Wednesday, 27 April 2011


After mum died I needed time off from work.  I couldn't manage my job on top of the grief I was experiencing.  So I took two months off.  But as the two months of leave slowly grew to a close I found myself dreading going back to work more and more. 

Before my mother passed away I was already disliking a number of things about my job.  Like the 1 1/2 hours it takes me to get there and the 1 1/2 hours it takes me to get back.  Like the fact that all my good friends have now left and gone elsewhere.  Like the fact that my workload is enormous because most of the staff who are left do not support each other and don't share work. 

I could go on.  But the point is I was already disliking my job and I was already looking for work closer to home that I would hopefully enjoy more.

I've been in my current job for six years now and despite what I just said, it has actually been the best job I've had to date.  But it is a tough job and others haven't lasted as long.  A lot of people I know have left the industry altogether or sought jobs elsewhere.

And now my strength is gone. 

I have always felt that I needed another job lined up in order to leave my current job.  And it is scary to leave something without a backup in place. 

But I needed to leave.  So I decided to quit.

When I rang my manager to quit, she said "Please consider taking leave instead, that way you can keep your job.  You can take leave for twelve months.  Then another twelve months is available after that.  So all up you can have a leave of absence for up to two years."

"But I want to be able to look for other work", I said.

"You can still look for other work and do other jobs but keep your job secure and keep all your entitlements for two years", she said.

"So I can keep my job secure for two years, keep all my entitlements secure during that time, work where ever I want during that time and decide to return or quit within two years?"


"Well OK then"

So that's what I did.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Maya "reading".

Also known as... telling a story from memory ("Dear Zoo" by Rod Campbell).

She is mumbling a lot so it's hard to understand what she is saying, but most of the time she is repeating the same thing over and over.

"I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me a pet. [Insert animal here].   It was too big I sent him back."

It's not quite the right words.  But she does obviously remember some lines from the story.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Funeral Blues.

There's a part of me that still can't believe my mother is gone.  I have moments were I think I might pop over to see her.  Or maybe I'll give her a call. 

And then it hits me. 

I can't.

My mother was not just my mother.  She was also my best friend.  And it really is as though I have lost two people in one.

I know I am lucky to have been so close to my mother.  I could talk to her about anything and everything.  And I did.

I could be myself with her.  I always felt completely at home and comfortable in her home and I felt the same way when she visited me. She knew me well.  She knew what to say.

There's a huge hole in my life now and it can ever be filled.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Circle of life.

Someone mentioned the circle of life to me recently, in regards to my mother's passing.  And yes in the circle of life parents are supposed to pass before their children.

But my grandmother, my mother's mother, is still alive.  She just buried her eldest daughter.

I can't even begin to imagine what she must be feeling.  I know she feels it should have been her dying instead.  And if she could have traded places with her daughter, she would have.

As I sat with my mother in her final moments, I'll admit I looked across her bed at my grandmother and thought, "It should be you lying here instead of my mother".

Sometimes the circle of life does not work as it is supposed to.

I've been listening to The Editors a lot lately, whose lyrics seem to resonate with me right now. And in the song "Push Your Head Towards the Air":
Now don't drown in your tears, babe
Push your head towards the air.
Now don't drown in your tears, babe
I will always be there.
I thought my mother would always be there.  I thought she would always be there to save me from drowning.  I remember all the times I cried in her arms and her arms were the safest place in the world.  Nothing could hurt me there.

Now I am a mother and I keep Maya safe.  And I want to tell Maya that I will always be there for her.

But if the circle of life works as it is supposed to, one day I will leave Maya.  One day Maya will feel as I do now.  Her heart will ache for me.  And I wish I could save Maya from that experience.

Monday, 18 April 2011


In regards to my mother's passing I often hear: "At least she's not suffering any more". And while I don't want my mother to be suffering, I also don't want her to be dead.  And if the choice is suffering or death, well right now I would choose her suffering just to have her here with me.  Yes, it may be selfish but that's how I feel. 

In life there are things we suffer through.  Accidents.  Operations.  Loss.  Pushing ourselves to our limits.  And not all this suffering ends in death.  Some suffering comes before achieving a dream or before recovering from loss, an accident or an operation. 

So I guess what I really want is my mother's suffering to be towards recovery rather than towards death.  And I want my mother alive not dead.  And the fact that she is not suffering any more is no comfort to me.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Every little piece in your life...

From The Editors - "The Weight of the World":
Every little piece in your life
Will add up to one
Every little piece in your life 
Well it means something to someone

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Last week I organised to speak to a doctor about my mother's medical history because I found myself questioning over and over again what happened.  I never went to any medical appointments with my mother because I was told that her cancer was highly treatable.  How did it go so fast from treatable to terminal?

And last week I discovered the truth. 

It was never treatable. 

It was always terminal. 

And I was not told.

Doctors suspected, via scans, that my mother's cancer had spread beyond her bladder and this became clear when my mother had her cystectomy in October last year.  The surgeon could see that the cancer went beyond her bladder and knew in that moment that she was terminal.  A few days after her operation the surgeon revealed the news to my mother.  She was terminal.

From there we don't know and will never know what happened.  Did my mother not understand the prognosis?  She was on a lot of strong medications, perhaps she didn't even really hear what the surgeon said.  Maybe she was in denial?  She was a fighter and wanted desperately to beat the cancer.  And there are always wonderful stories of success where people beat illnesses that are 'unbeatable'.  Or maybe she hid it from us, her family,  to protect us.

There's just no way to tell how much my mother understood.  But other doctors who treated my mother say she seemed to have no understanding of the fact that she was terminal.  And we had no way to know because no one told us.

And here we come to the part that really gets to me.  My mother's surgeon told us, her family, after surgery that the cancer had been removed and had been contained within the bladder.  Which is an outright lie.  If my mother had asked her surgeon not to pass on the fact that she was terminal to anyone, which she had every right to do, then surely he should have said nothing to us.  He should have said that due to my mother's wishes he could not talk to us about the surgery or outcomes.  Surely he should not have been able to lie about a patient's prognosis under any circumstances?

So doctors knew and thought mum knew that her cancer was terminal back in October.  But I did not find out until February 10th this year.  And 6 days later she was gone.  Rather than months to come to terms with things, to say my goodbyes, to say all there was to say, I had six days.  And those six days my mother was mostly asleep or delirious.  It was not enough.

I know we should always make the most of every moment.  And I was visiting her often.  But I would have visited a lot more often had I known she was terminal.  I would have organised for her to come see our home that we had just purchased.  Perhaps have some parties with Maya.  Mum could have written letters to Maya for her to read in the future.  And all of that was taken away from me, from mum, from all of us while we gave my mother space and time to heal from her surgeries.

But I also discovered last week that there was nothing that could have been done to save my mother, which has stopped all the 'what ifs' running around my head.  By the time she had symptoms it was already too late.  And there was no way of knowing she had bladder cancer before the symptoms.  She was always headed to this point and there was nothing I or anyone could have done.