Sunday, 21 July 2019

Goodbye

Well dear readers it is time to say goodbye. As the title says, this was a blog about OUR journey with myeloma, there's no longer an US. This space was Mike's as much as mine, although he didn't actually post in the later years. Mike's journey with myeloma is over, so mine is too. With Mike's death I had to start a new journey, without a map, without a Sat Nav and without Mike's nose ('I'm following my nose' was often said in the car.)

I have started a new blog, one that chronicles that journey:
https://thegoodcheerpixiewentthatway.blogspot.com/
It is available by invitation only, so if you would like to read it, send me an email and I will add you:
goodcheerpixie@outlook.com 

Thank you all for the love and support you have shown over the last nine years. They have been some of the hardest and at the same time best years of my life. I wish you all well for the future. 

Lorna x x x



Tuesday, 25 June 2019

I miss you.

I miss you darling. I miss your voice, your laughter, your smile, your smell. I miss seeing your face when I wake up every morning, I miss you saying you love me when I go to sleep at night. 

I cling to the words you left for me on my birthday, the card you wrote just days before you died, you knew you wouldn't make it, but the gift you left with the words in that card is worth more than all the diamonds in the world. 

I miss the readers of the blog being able to comment. I miss conversation with people. I miss so much that I can never get back. 




Monday, 17 June 2019

Do it.

Do it, do it now! Write down the things you're loved ones say to you. Get them to write things down, not an impersonal email, but a proper handwritten letter. Capture their image, their voice, their essence on whatever means you can. Keep it safe for the future, but start doing it now. I know you have all heard it before, but please, start doing it now before it's too late and regrets set in.

I deeply regret not having a record of Mike singing to me, I couldn't listen right now I know, but it would have been nice to have it to look forward to. I regret not having his words written down, I have forgotten in my haze of grief all the things he told me before he died. 

Thursday, 13 June 2019

After Life.


It is a whole month since Mike passed away, nine days since his funeral. The pain of his loss seems sharper than ever. The adrenaline of the first few weeks has dried up and paralysis has set in. Every plant in the garden, every tin in the the pantry, the cups in the cupboard and stuff around the house all remind me he is no longer here. I have to wear dark glasses in the supermarket, as when I spot food he loved, the tears well up and trickle down my face. I can't bear to watch the TV programmes we once watched together and there seems to be very little else that is watchable.  

People are trying so hard to be kind, I know they mean to try and help, but I don't want to move forward, not even one step. I'm not ready to walk the world alone, it is far too scary and dangerous without Mike. Time and time again I am asked by people if I have a plan, have I set myself little targets? For now just being alive is all I can manage, and some days even that is touch and go. 

I am angry with the world, but unlike the character in After Life, you wouldn't know it. I keep my anger locked up inside, waiting until I can stand alone somewhere and scream. Why me? Why Us? Why Mike? There are so many bad people out there, why not them?

Tomorrow is / would have been our eighth wedding anniversary, I'm so ridiculously sad we didn't get longer. I want to celebrate the nearly eight years of marriage that we had, can I cheat and pretend we made it? Should I buy a bronze (the traditional gift for an eighth wedding anniversary), something that Mike would have loved, something that I can remember him by? 

Alas no one can answer my questions, not unless they are a friend elsewhere. I was forced to switch off comments when I put on the tributes, some people have no respect for the dead. 



Thursday, 6 June 2019

Tribute from a far.

We knew this time would come but were hoping for a miracle so that Mike would still be with us, but although he fought bravely it wasn’t to be. He was also praying for that miracle even though things looked pretty bleak, such was his zest for life.
Mike, what can I say? He was one in a million and it’s impossible for me to imagine a world without him in it.
We first met as young kids in 1962 when we lived a stone’s throw from each other in Great Barr and forged a lifelong friendship – one that meant more to me than any other I’ve had.
What you saw was what you got with Mike – he was warm, friendly, humorous, intensely loyal and he possessed these attributes both man and boy – he never changed at all.
I think the only time he and I had a minor disagreement was in those very early days when we were talking football and I asked him what football team he supported, and he said Manchester United.
After I picked myself up off the floor, I counselled him on the merits of switching to West Bromwich Albion and after going to a few matches together as well as training sessions, he was converted.
We went to many matches together in the 60’s – in fact we did everything together – whether it be kicking a ball at our beloved Recreation Ground (nicknamed the Rec), cricket at Edgbaston, fishing at Sutton Park, train spotting at New Street or Snow Hill, and I have fond memories of penny for the guy and carol singing at Christmas, where we would knock on doors and make up the words because we didn’t know them and we’d fall about laughing.
These memories have never left me, and I know they never left Mike either because we’d still talk about them.
I moved to Australia in the late 60’s and we kept in touch for some years and then lost contact until I looked him up on a trip to the UK with my family in the late 90’s. I knocked on the door of the house he lived at all of those years earlier and miraculously his mum answered and gave us his contact details.
Mike came over to see us that night and we had plenty to talk about. All of those years of no contact hadn’t affected our friendship at all – that spark still remained. Mike mentioned this himself when we spoke on the phone a few days before he passed away.
Lynne and I have made several trips to the UK since and one of the highlights has always been to spend as much time as possible with Mike and Lorna.
When we last came over, Mike was quite sick, and our aim was to spend as much quality time with them as we could. Whilst it was a struggle for him at times, he was keen to do whatever he could with us, and we had some great times in places like Liverpool and Blackpool. I found that if I threw him the car keys his eyes would light up – maybe his health was temporarily forgotten about. To say he was a car enthusiast is a major understatement.
Earlier this year we knew that Mike’s health was getting worse and then he confirmed it by phone, but amazingly, he was at peace – I would even say he sounded upbeat.
One of Mike’s passions over many years was to travel to Australia to see us. It never quite happened but in that phone call he said, ‘I’m coming to Australia’. Of course, I said ‘WHAT’ and then he explained that Lorna will be coming to stay with us and has been given permission to bring Mike’s ashes with her. He was excited in telling me about this.
We look forward to Lorna making that trip where no doubt we’ll spend much time talking about Mike over a glass of wine or 3. Lorna, your room is ready whenever you are.
Mike, I said what I felt in that phone call a few days before you passed, and I meant them mate. Thank you for your friendship - it was an absolute privilege to know you and rest assured I will never forget you and neither will Lynne. She also knows what an outstanding person you were.
For one last time, Up the Baggies, Mike.
Your old mate Dave XXXX


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

A friend's tribute


Mike and I were friends from before I can even remember.  Both of us called Mike.  I'm told we were friends from the age of three.  We grew up a few houses from each other in Great Barr.  We always looked odd together because he was so tall and I was so small.  To anyone who remembers 'Only Fools and Horses', we were like the Driscol Brothers.

We got up to some wild times together, including into our teens and I am very grateful that I just don't remember many of them.  Unfortunately, Mike had a perfect memory.  In recent years he would tell me about the things we did, and I would think 'how embarrassing' and 'please shut up Mike PLEASE'.  He remembered everybody, every place, every occasion in great detail. We were teenagers in the late 60's and early 70's and I cannot even remember going to some parties he talked about.  But we were there.

I remember his first car.  A 3-wheeler he could drive on L-plates.  I remember being scared as he went round corners.  He was never slow at that time.  He made me sit in the footwell because he wasn't allowed to carry passengers on an L-plate.  It just made me even more scared.  If I popped my head up to look, he would push me down again. Then he got his famous Moggie Minor.  Fantastic times when your mate gets a motor.  We loaded up one weekend and went to Lincoln Pop Festival to see Don McClean and Joe Cocker and Slade and Status Quo.   Exactly 47 years ago, and those were the new days of freedom and rebellion and we were there in full swing.  It’s a bit of a haze now, and to be honest it was a bit of a haze then as well.

It was at that time we both discovered girls.  And I am so glad we did.  Girls saved our lives.  Literally.  Mike worked in Birmingham centre and we would always meet with a strange lot of people on New Street in Birmingham, all great characters and so many of Mike's work friends.  They were great times, drinking in The Tavern In The Town, in New Street Birmingham.  We'd be there most nights, normally.  But girlfriends have a way of interfering with a guy's calendar, and so it happened to us, that night, November 21st 1974.  We weren't there in the pub the night it was blown up.  Mike was never a believer in divine intervention, perhaps he is a believer in female intervention instead.

The characters that Mike met throughout life he never forgot and would always mention fondly.  Mike only ever spoke well about people.  I don't know how many noticed that.  He would always talk about people's qualities and never seemed to moan.  You do tend to notice those ways in which close friends are different to yourself.  Me, I loved a moan.  Mike saw the positive.  And isn't that a much needed trait of a West Bromwich Albion fan?  Always looking for the positive.  I became a West Ham fan because I like a good moan.

We lost touch in the family years and getting on with life and careers.  When we caught up again it could have been with happier circumstances considering Mike’s diagnosis.  But the one thing that I saw once more was that same old female intervention.   Once more coming to Mike’s rescue.
Mike and Lorna were a team.  And I witnessed this over recent years.  Mike never ran away from any situation, he never hid.  If something had to be confronted, that’s what he did.  Lorna and Mike together built up their expertise on Mike’s health issues.  It would have been too much for anyone to cope with and it was certainly a challenge for two.  They both became experts in Mike’s needs and treatment.  In particular it has been Lorna’s strength and determination that allowed Mike to carry on for so long.  Year after year they were able to keep life as normal as possible, including their regular trips to see the Baggies lose.

Mike helped EVERYONE.  He never liked to see anyone having a problem if he could help.  I developed my own health issues at a time when Mike was in the midst of his own.  But he and Lorna took me in and took charge and control of the situation.  Mike even marched me to the hospital demanding I receive treatment.   What a great friend. Lorna and Mike helped me recover from my own problems, just as selfless is their nature.  How I wish I wasn’t so helpless in return.  But I’ll remember Mike the way he was.  Very kind, very caring, with great loyalty and immense honesty.  Lessons for us all.



Tuesday, 4 June 2019

My tribute to my soulmate.


My darling Micky

Today we are here to say goodbye and at the same time celebrate your life. We may have met a bit later than most, but from the second we started talking to each other, I knew that we would be friends for life, and we were. I never expected to meet someone who I felt would complete me the way you did, you were someone who I never had to explain myself to. You were the missing piece of my jigsaw, and I was yours. I couldn’t possibly count how many hours we spent talking in the garden until the early hours or the number of times that we laughed until our sides hurt. We had so much fun even during ill health.

Remember the time we were on our way back from our holiday in Italy, we didn’t want the holiday to end and so we drove to Broad Street in Birmingham and got our party clothes out of the suitcases. Off we went to Brannigan’s nightclub where you went into “play up” mode. You started talking to a hen party who all had Dick Emery vicar style teeth in. I came over and said, “don’t worry, I’m his care in the community nurse!” Everyone screamed with laughter, including you and me.

We went snorkelling in The Blue Lagoon in Turkey. We found a small octopus in the shallow water and followed it around until we were so cold, we could hardly move. When we got out, we discovered we had been in the water for four hours! You loved Turkey with its heat and people. You obviously made an impression as the staff remembered you, every time we went.

Even when you were going through your first round of chemotherapy you had the nursing staff in stitches. When your potassium was up, you dressed up as a tomato, a banana and potato (all high potassium foods). When Liz was promoted from staff nurse to sister, you got me to make you a nurse’s watch and I sewed white tape onto a navy-blue top to mimic the sister’s uniform. Of course, the best laugh of all was what you did on the day of your last treatment. You decided that rather than buy chocolates or a thank you card that you would sing “You’re simply the best” as Tina Turner. Fishnet tights, leopard print dress, blond wig and high-heeled shoes. The consultant saw you from afar and legged it off the ward!

Despite my devastation at your loss, I realise that I am so much richer for having known you. Your kindness and care for me extended so far, that you even made sure you had bought my birthday present and card before you left me. I will never forget you; I don’t think anyone could, you were always so colourful and larger than life.