Not a great week.
Certainly not conducive to producing posts of scintillating literary value. So finally I have an excuse for not doing so.
First off, my best friend's mother died suddenly last Sunday. I don't have all the details yet as Dave is understandably maintaining radio silence but I can imagine the immense emotional run-a-round he and his family are currently going through. Dave's mum played quite a major role in my life in my twenties and early thirties. I was at her house most Saturday evening's visiting Dave and have fond memories of firework's nights that seemed to last forever and watching cable TV before it was quite so commonplace. I was geeky and awkward when I was younger (much more so than I am now) but Dave's mum had an easy laugh and a constantly sunny disposition. To meet someone who laughs at all your feeble jokes at a time when you are desperate to build up your confidence is a real boon. I was made to feel part of the family and was ribbed as such - but in a way that made me feel safe and included. That she is gone now seems unnatural and impossible. She always seemed larger than life and irrepressibly vibrant. My thoughts are with Dave and his family for their huge loss.
Second, Karen and I seem to be heading into the above territory for ourselves. Karen's mother, a long time sufferer of Lupus, after strokes and other debilitating side-effects, announced on Wednesday that she's finally had enough and "cut her peg". Basically, after living the last couple of years taking only liquid food by tube, being unable to walk and talk, she has now decided - quite understandably - that enough is enough. She is refusing all medication, all food and as much water as she can comfortably do without. She's made up her mind that this is the end and there is little anyone can do about it. I believe she has been psychiatrically assessed though don't think the results have been announced yet. However, having seen her yesterday it is evident she is very clear about what she is doing. She is after all a qualified doctor herself and very intelligent. She is aware more than anyone around her of the direct consequences of this course of action.
The visit was hard going. Karen's relationship with her mother is difficult to say the least and not my place to detail here. Her mother is frustrated by her inability to communicate as fluently as she'd like, she's uncomfortable, in pain, tired and not entirely satisfied with the nursing home they moved her into on Friday - but she's aware that, after her shock announcement, remaining at home was going to be an impossibility.
Anyway, the visit went better than Karen and I had thought it would - she was in better condition than we imagined but, of course, this will deteriorate as the lack of food and medication begin to bite. Nobody likes to ask "how long" but that is the question that is never far away. We took the boys and they coped admirably with, what must be to them, quite a scary sight: a very old human being who looks both human and not, who frequently groans out loud, not from pain, but from anger and frustration and who is unable to reassure them about what she is going through. It is a scary situation for anybody - and I worked 10 years in a nursing home for the elderly so am reasonably used to it. We said our goodbyes - unsure if they were final or not; unsure of how many more we could reasonably expect - and then tried to make the best of the trip down to Cookham by taking the kids for a walk along the Thames before getting fish and chips and heading home. Karen and I will try and head back down in the week unless events demand a more immediate response.
So that was the week that was but that I wish was wasn't. And why I haven't been so alacritous with updating this blog. Bear with me, people, this is a bumpy ride.