Updated: Feb 9
I didn’t really understand what cancer was when it first came into my life. At aged four my Grandma Sylvia spent her last Christmas with us aged just 53.
I remember her warm gaze as she watched me open my gifts as I sat on the floor beside her chair.
The soft, gentle touch of her hand when she passed me the tiny fairy that sat on a silver star; Grandad later lifted me up to place it on the tree and I watched the fairy sparkle amongst the Christmas tree lights.
The smell of her room when I kissed her one final goodbye on New Year’s Day morning. The photo of my mum as a teenager peeping through the green foliage, watching down over her on the wall beside her bed.
My small hand held in my mother’s as I wondered why cancer had chosen her when I wanted her with us.
We brought flowers to her ‘garden’ and danced round the war memorial steps as our mother arranged them over the two pots placed in memory of her. Sometimes if my brother and I found flowers with a little colour left in them on the cemetery compost heap, we would take them out and place them in the war memorial for the soldiers.
For many years I would dress up in her costume jewellery and twirl in front of the mirror.
When my rabbit died Grandma Sylvy would bring her back to sit and have tea parties with me by my open bedroom window in my dream; by sunrise I’d whisper See you soon. Those nights feel like they went on for many years.
Aged seven I would still laugh as mum and I recalled the day Rex the dog chased me up the stairs in Grandma and Grandad’s house and I had climbed into the cot to escape; I still smile as I remember the excitement I felt and the belly rumbles Rex’s playful leaps would bring my tiny brother and I.
Some nights when my mind was busy or my eyes were full of tears my mother would sit on my bed and turn my hand to face palm up; hold it open and you will feel her place her hand in yours so you can sleep.
Every new year we would light a candle and remember. Every summer her delicate pale blue, glass vase would hold hand picked flowers from the hedgerow or Sweet-peas that filled the air with their distinctive scent.
When Grandad passed away over 30 years later I read the poem she had written to him, folded in a little box all those years ago.
I wonder if I’ll ever have
another life like this
of days of torment, struggle, tears,
then days of utter bliss,
The sunny days are gorgeous
yet as we all do know,
it takes a time of raindrops,
to make the flowers grow,
so if there is another time,
a chance to live again,
I’ll search for you
so we can walk
together yet again
Tears rolled down my face as I read, my heart physically ached in my chest, but as I folded the poem back into my coat pocket I was strangely happy they were being laid to rest together again.
I ran many sponsored races in Grandma's memory but I always knew I would do something more hands on to keep her with me in some way; something for others who are affected by cancer.
I have completed my Level One in Cancer Awareness, my Post Graduate Diploma Advanced Cancer Awareness with Jennifer Young Training and am currently enrolled on her Oncology Massage course.
As part of my volunteer work I sit with those affected by cancer, in many ways, and actively listen.
One day there will be a place to come and pause as well as treatments available from the comfort of your own home.
Sylvy’s Pause will continue to grow.