In 2009 I got married to my husband who I’ve been with since I was 18 years old. The year leading up to my marriage was the most exciting year of my life, with my family and friends. I had the best relationship with my mum, she was my best friend. We did everything together, shopped, drank, smoked, lazed about, went on holiday, text 20 times a day, called 10 times a day. After we got married I had everything to look forward to, a new house with my husband and the chance to start a family. Unbeknown to me life had a different plan.
The year following my wedding I suffered my first miscarriage which devastated my husband and I. Just after our first anniversary I found out I was pregnant again. I had my chance again to have a baby and life would be good. What I didn’t know was this was the beginning of my hell.
A few days later, August 2010 I visited my mum one morning, as she hadn’t been very well and was suffering with her mental health (well that’s what I thought) she didn’t answer the door. I sat and sobbed selfishly asking why. I rushed back to my house to get a spare key so I could check on her, only to be entering the beginning of the most traumatic thing I have ever been through. My mother was upstairs(she looked as though she was sleeping) I tried to wake her up, I couldn’t, I knew something was wrong. I called an ambulance and I called my dad. He was in London, as well as my husband, and all my family were in Spain on holiday. I waited for the ambulance and when they got there, I began to panic. I held my mums hand in the ambulance and they blue lighted us to the William Harvey. I went numb, and to be honest, I find it hard to remember.
I was put into a room by myself and waited there for ages. My dad finally arrived, followed by my best friend and husband. After the agonising wait of the unknown , my distraught dad broke the news to me. My mum had suffered a massive stroke due to a huge brain tumour. Shocked, drowning, is the only way I can describe how I felt. The doctor said it was very unlikely my mum would wake up and there was very little they could do. My world crashed around me and I felt like I couldn’t breath.
I’m not overly religious but I prayed and prayed, I begged the doctors and nurses to do something and finally they made a call to London, she was rushed to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, they found a surgeon who was prepared to operate . She was only 47, fit, healthy, and young. If only we knew how ill she was!
They operated on my mum that night and we waited for three days for her to wake up. I knew she would, I prayed for her to wake up, and I would look after her, anything but lose her. Me and my poor brother, (who was on holiday at the time when we told him, he got a flight back straightaway) would sit next to her bed and sing all of her favourite songs in the hope she would wake.
When she finally woke up, she was brain-damaged and would need rehabilitation. Luckily she knew who we all were, but struggled to communicate verbally, just the odd few words here and there and she couldn’t do anything for herself, she was wheelchair bound. The next few days were an up and down rollercoaster and it was my mum’s 48th birthday. We returned from London to the William Harvey and the doctors told us, she had terminal stage four brain tumour, although they had removed a part of it she wasn’t well enough for chemo, they gave us 5 months.
I lost the baby during this time, and although it was like another hole in my heart, another loss, I was surrounded by it, the pain was just masked by the complete shock I was already in.
The following months were weirdly horrific and wonderful at the same time. The support we witnessed when we returned home was incredible. I took time off from my job (a dance teacher- something I loved) I just couldn’t continue and wanted to bring her home and care for her there. My dad, brother, my nan (mum’s mum), myself and husband lived at my mum’s house, and looked after her day and night. Our family and friends were unbelievably amazing. The hospice helped and Macmillan. But watching someone you love dearly, die, slowly, has no return. My mum was a fighter and fit as you like, so she fought that cancer but the stroke/tumour left her cruelly, a different version of herself.
My mum was so glamorous, young at heart, had all the energy and love in the world. She was so brave and, although she didn’t say much, I believed she knew exactly what was going on. I didn’t leave her side. In November we had a house fire in the loft, caused by a down lighter. Luckily no one was hurt, although stressful for us and mum as she had to be evacuated, and my dad had to arrange for the insurance to pay for a new roof, we lost all of our childhood things and memories. Just felt like the worse film I had ever watched and we couldn’t believe what was happening. Everything was being taken away from me, shredded of all my comforts and my foundations ripped away.
We tried to enjoy Christmas but in the run up, mum had seizures, strokes and blood clots. Mum fought so hard and died January 21st 2011. It had ended, my mum was free of the pain, but mine had only just begun.
The year following was the lowest year of my life and I’m not quite sure how I made it through. I had lost a considerable amount of weight and weighed just 6 stone, I couldn’t work, and the relationships around me fell apart as the grief took its toll (on all of us). My husband and I decided to go travelling for a few months to see if it would help. Bless my husband, he was so worried about me and felt so helpless. I went to the doctors to get the jabs for travelling, and she asked me if I could be pregnant. Always possible but unlikely, due to my weight and utterly sad heart and body. She thought it was best to check, and she was right. I got an urgent scan as we were due to fly in 18 days. Thank god I had that scan, as they found it was eptopic and I was rushed to surgery straightaway.
When I woke the numbness took a whole new level and I wasn’t even sure if I was there anymore. I lost a Fallopian tube, but emotionally I had lost any hope I had left. The doctor reluctantly wrote me a letter and allowed me to fly. I went to Asia for two months. I went on a spiritual, religious, angry, love adventure and when I returned I had lost more weight and was determined to try and get better.
I wanted to get back to work and start to rebuild my life again. In 2012, I did that, with help. Things started to get better. I had grief counselling, my husband was amazing, I had some incredible friends and I was my mum’s daughter, and had my mums love in my heart. I got a job as head of dance, and it felt amazing. Later that year I fell pregnant and we went on to have our first beautiful daughter Bluebell Heather on the 18th January 2014(middle name is my mum’s name) I gained six stone but I was so happy.
I had a traumatic birth and had pre eclampsia, but I recovered and six months later I started to lose the weight again. 15 months later we found out we were having baby number 2. Blossom Isadora arrived 17th January 2016 . I got a DVT and a PE after blossom, and had to inject for 6 months, (so I shouldn’t have any more really) but I was so so happy to have my little family and they are my life.
The shock only wore off a few years ago. Some days/weeks/months are better than others and the pain still hits me, and the effects of what happened are still evident, but I still have counselling sessions from time to time, and earlier this year I faced the fact that I had an eating disorder and now work very hard to not fall back into that. I think about my mum everyday, but I live with it. The girls bring me so much joy, love and motivation. They keep me going and drive me to make every second count.
I hope one day, and I think soon, I will be able to help other people. I want to go back to uni to train to be a play therapist and work with children who care for their parents, or have lost a parent. But that doesn’t have to be now, the girls are still young and I don’t want to miss a thing. My journey is far from over and I’m not under any illusion that I will be completely in control of the future, but at least now there is a future. Thank you for reading Cara x