This photo tells why it is so long since I last wrote. The photo was taken on the occasion of a party held at my place for the combined celebrations of my 53rd, and my Mother's 87th birthdays. It was a few days after the mad purchasing of the Peugeot. A happy time.
This photo shows L -R, myself 5th out of 7 siblings, Chris, the eldest sibling of our 7, Gill, 2nd eldest, William, the 6th, our mother, Betty Chapman, Sally (Sarah) the 3rd sibling, Andrew the 4th. Our youngest sister Gerry, the 7th sibling chooses to absent herself from family gatherings. The reason this photo is important to me is because it is the last `whole' photo, in my records, the last happy one.
Now the photo marks a milestone along the grieving path. Chris died on April 6th, 2010. Like many families death snuck up. We knew Chris was struggling with his health, and as a family we were both frustrated and concerned. I had turfed him out of my place earlier in the year when I found his need for care was more than I could deal with. At that time I thought he was just being lazy, after all he was still cycling 24 k to and from work in all weather. Our sister Gill took him in and within a month, like me was frustrated by his seeming inability to participate in meeting his own daily personal health and care needs. In December a month after my birthday, he was in severe pain. He had fallen out of bed one night, we think from a hypoglycaemic episode, and lay on the cold floor until our sister Sally found him the next morning. Then began the hospital visits, initially suspecting spinal fractures and bruising, eventually just prior to his birthday on the 19th of December, a diagnosis of Liver cancer. We had a birthday party for him at Gill's place and he said in his birthday speech of thanks to his hosts and family, that it was special for him because he wasn't sure that he would be there for the next one, but he said it in such a self-deprecating manner that it didn't register with me until some time later, when Sally told me to research Liver cancer on the internet.
Chris had his first bout of chemo just before Christmas. We thought he might not be allowed out of hospital for Christmas, but he was, and he spent the day lying on the couch at Sally's. Slowly, slowly after Christmas, he improved, so much so, that he was able to come up on our annual cycling pilgrimage to the Audax Alpine Classic and we had a few precious happy days. Chris continued working and cycling, although he tended to cycle to the station then catch the train more often. In March he had his second bout of chemo and it went horribly wrong, leaking from the lesions into what good parts of his liver were left. We spent 4 weeks with him as he slowly died. We had the most extraordinary funeral for him, with hundreds of friends attending and a awake that overflowed from Gill & Micks large house, into the street. So many people whose lives he had touched with his steady as you go approach to life and his non-complaining daily management of his illnesses.
This 54th birthday of mine is a marker along the 12 month road to Chris's first anniversary.