I’m 44 years young (Ssshhh!) and became a widow on the 13th October (yes, the 13th, never a lucky day according to superstition and certainly not good for some) last year when the other half’s heart decided that it couldn’t cope with anymore chemo or cancer and gave out at a very inconvenient 7:20am. I say inconvenient as the 8 year old (then 7 as her birthday wasn’t for a few days longer) was obviously here and it’s not really a great start to the morning to see someone struggling to breathe, almost being almost knocked over by ambulance crews thundering down the hallway and Mummy frantically throwing something on that doesn’t let a boob escape or have coffee stains down the front of it . Forever thankful to my friend and neighbour for taking her so I could concentrate on the horror happening in my living room. So, she’s now happily munching chocolate brioche with my neighbour and her son and, to her, this is a normal occurrence as we had to ship him off with blue lights flashing on more occasions than I care to remember. Meanwhile I’m back home and by this time we have 2 other neighbours in the living room as well as 8 paramedics. 1 of the neighbours happens to be an anaesthetist so she’s busy pumping adrenalin into him, the paddles are all a go go and it’s like a surreal scene from ER but without George Clooney to help make things better, although I always preferred Dr Carter. By now it’s pretty obvious that he’s dead, he’s a weird grey colour and he’s gone but they still carry on whilst I stand peering over their shoulders and holding a bag of saline up that they’ve put on drip feed too……..really, saline, what’s the point of that, he’s dead not dehydrated. Finally, after nearly 2 hours they come to the realisation that was glaringly obvious to a non medic such as myself and pronounce time of death.
I’ve never seen a dead person before but now have one laying across the living room floor and it’s pretty horrible as he’s a very odd shade of grey, random thoughts of spray tanning him to look good for the funeral come to mind, it’s weird how the brain functions in times of crisis. 4 cups of tea arrive at the same time, I don’t feel like I want tea, gin or brandy would be better but worry I might look like an alcoholic as it’s not even 8am. Surely a stiff body requires a stiff drink but don’t imagine they’ll appreciate my sarcasm or odd sense of humour at a time like this so drink the tea instead.
Leave them all there and dash to see small person, she has running club (does not take after me, I only run if I’m being chased). I don’t tell her much other than “the ambulance men are still with him” so I’ve not lied to her and she goes off with a friend to club and school.
Meanwhile back in the living room yet more cups of tea have arrived, one more would be fine, I really do not need 7. They’ve covered him with the throws from the sofa but left his big toe sticking out which my brain now tells me would look a better colour with some pinky coloured nail varnish on it as it would look healthier. I told you my brain works in weird ways.
Leave them all to it and vacate to the garden with a cigarette or 6 to call his parents. I’ll write more about them at a later date as they are a very strange species of plant/vegetable matter. Knowing what to say and how to put it was tricky so just came out with “sorry but ……….”. They said they would come over immediately as they wanted to see him before the coroners whisked him away, fair enough but they only live 20 minutes away and 2 hours later …………the body is still on the floor, the coroners are waiting, yet more blessed cups of tea have been made (will get shares in PG Tips soon!), the toe is still sticking out and bothering me and no sign of the cabbage couple. Wonder if perhaps they’ve dropped dead too but sadly not, they just “had things to do” before they came over, really?? Your first born has just taken his final wheeze and you have “things to do”?!
Meanwhile the coroners are concerned that they won’t fit him through the hallway, I tell them he’ll fit if they hold him upright but they won’t go for that idea as he’s a big bloke. So, I have to clear it, yeah thanks. Think about pointing out that we usually get the Christmas tree out each year by throwing it over the balcony but guess it’s more respectful for him to leave by the front door. Really need gin or brandy at this point. Throw the contents of the book shelf into the bathroom along with all the coats and boots and feel the urge to barricade myself in with the bookshelf and just hide but there’s no gin or brandy in the bathroom and my cigarettes are in the kitchen, dammit.
The outlaws finally arrive, looking like they’ve not washed for a month and apologise for being so late but “they’ve had so much to do this morning”, I think about asking them how long it takes to chuck some clothes on but think better of it seeing as it looks like they’ve raided the bottom of the laundry basket as it is. At this point I leave them with the body and pour wine into a mug (a few clean ones left still, his mother is forever buying me mugs, just for once this has been a good thing) whilst making yet more tea, this time for them as it’s officially wine o’clock for me even though it’s only about 10:30am. Lot’s of kissing the body and “we’re so sorry we didn’t visit you enough (they visited once in the 7 hospital stays and various, sometimes life threatening operations he had). I take them down to the gardens to mooch about whilst the body bag and contents are loaded into the black taxi thing that comes, it’s like the grim reaper on wheels. We see them off and then go back up, another wine for me and further blinkin tea made for them. Not much is said as they take it upon themselves to wash up the remnants of the curry I’d made the previous night. Now, when I wash up I run one sink full of hot water and do it, his father required 3. The first to rinse the majority off, another to wash them and a third to “ensure” they were clean. I stand in a sort of gobsmacked level never felt before as I’m both in shock from the death and stunned that the most unhygienic people I’ve ever encountered wash things up 3 times.
This was the start of my new chapter which I’ll continue with soon…………….