Apr. 29th, 2014 11:44 pm
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I managed to get to see my cousin both Sunday afternoon and this afternoon. It's fair to say that in one week he seems to have deteriorated more than I expected.

Sunday he said he felt a bit rubbish but he looked sleepy so it seemed he wasn't resting too well. Today he looked worse than Sunday and it turned out that he's really struggling to eat. He almost choked on his food this morning so they've put him on soft diet. His balance has been really bad and he hadn't been out of bed today. That exact time last week he'd been sat upright in a chair and even walked to the toilet.

I guess even though I've worked in end of life care it still threw me a bit to see him looking so ill and really, that much worse than last week. I'm not naive; I know people go into palliative care units for pretty much one reason only but I guess last Tuesday was one of his good days and the last two I've seen him on have been bad ones.

When I got there today his dad was there but he left when I arrived as he got an hour to go and run errands while I sat with my cousin. I had taken some old family photos with me so we looked through those a bit and talked about life as kids. We once had an epic battle - his bro and my bro on one side of the bedroom and me and him on the other - we had so many toys and stuff to play with but we built dens and then peppered each other with the pieces out of a Connect 4 game. Always a childhood memory that makes me smile.

We talked as much as he could manage. He told me he loved Inspector Gadget cartoons as a kid. He told me that his butt had gone numb, that he loved gravy and Hendersons relish. (On Sunday as I was leaving he told me that it was lovely to see me - there were tears later on that day). I plumped his pillows, did my best to make him more comfortable.

It was warm here today and when I arrived he was attempting to finish pudding after his lunch. He said he was hot and so I opened the door, letting a really nice spring breeze in. He was glad to feel it blowing across his feet where I'd pulled the sheets back. When I went round to move his table for him I stroked his arm. When I was leaving I gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek and then held his hand and rubbed it a while when the nurses came in to talk to him about how he'd been today.

We talked about his son and the picture of the Titanic that he had drawn and was on the pinboard at the end of the bed. He told me that Connor is a bright kid and I know where he gets that from. Ironically the mother of Connor - my cousin's ex/estranged wife, called to tell him off for not ringing to wish her a happy birthday. I was appalled that she could be so self absorbed. She put the phone down on him. I reassured him that he had bigger fish to fry at the moment and to take no notice. Just when I think people can't get much lower they go on and prove me wrong somehow.

I'm really rambling now but I tried to offer comfort. I wanted to say how much he had always meant to me, right from being kids, but I didn't want to make things awkward. Instead I fussed around and made sure he had smiles and was comfortable and wasn't alone.

I'm hurting so badly over this. It's naive to say that nobody understands, of course they do. My beloved is being as supportive as she can but I have to be sensitive to the fact that her dad died of cancer only 5 years ago. I'm trying not to make a deal out of how young my cousin is as I know dying as a result of a horrible disease is sad at whatever age it claims a life - her dad was only 53 or so. The thing is that my cousin has been a part of my life in so many different ways since he was born. Between the downright fucking injustice of it all to the sadness that's planted itself in my heart since I found out that it was definitely terminal I just can't seem to get my head around it fully.

My brother asked me to ring him to let him know how our cousin was but I couldn't get hold of him. He deals with these things pretty badly so I'm going to guess he was ducking my call. I sent him a text but we'll see if he calls me.

Finally, before I get off here and try not to rant in my own head any more, my cousin said today that he'd quite like to see my sister and brother in law (who me and my bro no longer speak to). I have no choice but to help him try and achieve that. It probably means trying to ring my sister which I don't want to and, in ordinary circumstances, would never do. I will do it but it makes me feel a bit strange. My brother wouldn't want to do it either but I guess I just wanted to bounce stuff off him a bit before doing anything.

Now, I'm going to take my sadness, sore throat and really irritating cough and play some 2048 to try and clear my head a bit. I was raised Catholic and although I'm long renounced this is something that's never left me:

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace."

In my head I can entirely accept he isn't going to beat this. In my heart I can't. For me, selfishly, it's head down and keep going. Do what I can and get through to the end when he is at peace, not in pain, and then I will grieve properly. If there is a heaven I know my parents are there and they'll take good care of him.


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