I’ve just got back from being hugged half to death by 18 four and five year olds. It was definitely one of the highlights of the past fortnight.
The theme for this half term at DD’s school is Countries Near and Far. There’s bunting made from painted flags and maps all over the place, and every day DD comes home with a new Fact! about somewhere in the world. Her misheard rendition of the National Anthem is hilarious. Anyway, as a half Pole, her teachers asked if I could pop in and talk about something to do with Poland.
This got mutated, Chinese whispers-style, into me running a two hour cooking and tasting session this morning. There was much excitement about Doing Something Different, and about Someone’s Mummy Being The Visitor. We all made Polish Apple Cake together (messy and fun, especially the egg cracking…), then while it was in the over we tasted One I’d Made Earlier (it was a late night but I was taking no chances on being shown up with an unfamiliar oven, and sure enough the one the kiddies made turned out a little bit burnt). We also sampled a Polish sausage called wiejska and Krakus-brand gherkins and sauerkraut.
Then I taught them the Polish lullaby I sing DD and DS every night (or they sing to me), which was super-cute, as well as teaching them the Polish for please (prosze) and thank you (dziekuje). And at the end of the session, they all spontaneously ran over, hugged me and shouted ‘DZIEKUJE!’. I walked out into the sunny playground smiling from ear to ear.
As I said, it was one of the highlights of the past couple of weeks, which have been full of blessings, including eventually recovering from my last chemo (I have my final chemo-related consultant appointment this afternoon and then he hands me over to the surgical team). And I can tell you Hallmark are definitely missing a trick not selling ‘You Survived Chemo!’ cards, because my postbox has been full of them. My mummy and Pops bought me an amazing handtied bouquet with flowers chosen for their meaning, including roses for love and irises for inspiration, my lovely friend J sent my favourite white lilies, and my wonderful sister sent me the most beautiful pendant from Merci Maman with three gold hearts engraved with DH, DD and DS’s names so they hang next to my heart. All of which prompted tears, of course.
The big downside of the past couple of weeks happened last Friday, though, when Charlie Cat, he of the weirdly coincidental colon cancer, left us for good. He did test positive for pancreatitis, but the medicine didn’t work because that condition, nasty in itself, was masking something even more horrible. He deteriorated rapidly last week, was obviously in pain, losing even more weight, refusing his prescription food and throwing up anything else I gave him. So last Thursday we went to the vet and made the painful decision to stop his suffering. After his Last Supper of his favourite prawns, DH volunteered to take him in on Friday morning, thank God, as I don’t think I could have done it, and stayed with him while the vet did the injection to check he died peacefully. DH came back in tears, having dispatched Chaz to the cat crematorium. He had recovered sufficiently by that afternoon to announce he was planning a 10 mile run ‘for cat chemo’, though…
I was dreading telling the children. After school, I sat them down and said I had something very sad to tell them, along the lines of: Charlie was very unwell and hurting a lot, and the vet couldn’t make him better, and this morning he died. DD stood there open mouthed for a number of seconds and I was bracing myself for her reaction. Which was ‘Hurray, we can get two kittens,’ shouted gleefully. Wasn’t quite expecting that. DS, on the other hand burst into inconsolable tears, which I also wasn’t expecting given that he is only two and a half.
The black comedy continued at bathtime, when I heard DD composing a song with the lyrics ‘Chaz is gone, he is DEAD,’ with accompaniment on toy pink flute. DS keeps asking where Charlie is, but seems to have grasped now that he’s gone (‘up sky wiv angels’). I am missing Charlie terribly – you really don’t realise until a pet has gone how much they are in your peripheral field of vision.
So it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster couple of weeks, and two weeks tomorrow I have my first op. My tastebuds have almost recovered now (although daily nose bleeds and twitching eye muscles persist, as does low energy). So I’m off out this evening for tapas and a glass or three of cava for one of a number of celebrations of the end of a particularly shitty bit of my life. Not sure what the next region of Cancerland looks like, but it’s gotta be prettier than that last place. Enjoy the sunshine. Count your blessings. And f%ck caancer!