On 19th October 2015 my lovely nephew Keith passed away. 13 months after realising he had a tumour on his right temple and getting emergency surgery, through many long months of chemotherapy & radiotherapy, through many gallons of tears and words of hope his bravery & tolerance was tested to the limits. His beautiful little daughter often climbed up onto his bed to 'snuggle' up to him, sometimes saying he needed a 'Power-Hug'. Through hundreds of hospital tests & visits, clinic's and therapeutic courses we all took a part in this young mans journey. Often the sadness & tears inside me got pretty close to drowning me in emotional trauma.
Just over a month ago I sat with his little girl as we watched millions of stars twinkle in a black night sky, her daddy was being bathed by two wonderful carers. We tried, with lots of laughter, to count all of the stars before our gaze. Almost in an adult calm voice she said, "Grandma is a big shiny~star, just over there near the very top of the sky near heaven." I watched her gorgeous hazel eyes scanning the stars, wondering just how much she actually knew about her fathers situation and inevitable passing. Just before we came back indoors her face glanced back up at the stars and she said quietly "Night-night Nanny Lorraine, save a cosy space next to you for daddy!"
Two weeks ago my wife and I went for an almost ritualistic visit to the hospice to see Keith. The earlier visit just 20 hours previous had shown he was beginning to sleep more and begin to loose control of many of his bodily functions, an undignified trauma indeed. We walked steadily but calmly towards his bed, he lay cushioned amongst many pillows and patterned shawls & bedrugs. His bloated face soon began to light with a smile, he recognized us there, I sat close by his head and spoke quietly to him. My words were personal, to him alone, I saw his eyes twinkle and a slight smile briefly went across his face. He mumbled very slowly but clearly, "It was good mostly, my girl is my treasure, the love you have given is my reward, I love you unk." He went into a sleep. We waited a while and just watched his calmness as he slept. Each of us allowed a few tears to escape and roll down saddened cheeks. After about 25 minutes Keith woke and smiled, he moved his head very slightly, he whispered quietly to me "Stars, beautiful can you see, there's a space there!"
My old body was wracked with a grief I haven't known in many a long year. October 19th at 6:35am my wonderful nephew slipped away, in his dads arms and with just one slight gasp. I will see that star, it will shine ever brighter and more amazing than any other… except slightly less than it's mother!
One moment, one life, all too soon gone, never take your days for granted, they are just borrowed.