Sucker punched by a phone.

Usually, as bereaved Mums, we manage to muddle through.

I’m a member of several groups and we agree that some days we tread water, on others we wade through treacle and, on yet others, we just disappear beneath duvets or blankets.

Last weekend, I’d eventually thrown myself into much-needed decorating of our living room whilst Gary was away and was feeling rather productive when my phone rang. It was a lovely lady who had helped organise some fundraising for Henry’s charity. I used the call as an opportunity to make a cuppa and sit to chat. She told me that she has a friend whose nephew had just been diagnosed with what “sounds like one of your cancers” (a Primary Bone Cancer) and wondered if she could pass my number on. With warnings of not raising hopes I agreed.

A while later Henry’s favourite ringtone sang out of my phone and I picked it up. A strained voice began to tell me about a nephew who was in hospital, had hardly been home since diagnosis, who had had chemotherapy and (at this point the voice disintegrated into tearful sobs) his leg had been amputated.

Everything flooded back. This was us in 2009 (though without the amputation, rather an implant which caused more problems with mobility than amputation would have done). I struggled to contain my own sorrow. This poor woman needed reassurance, not an equally wobbly voice at the other end of the line. I did all I could to buoy her up and asked what the diagnosis had been. Osteosarcoma. I asked how old he was. 11. Exactly the same as Henry.

I told her how to go about obtaining funds from Henry Dancer Days via CLIC Sargent (we do this so that any referrals are checked) and empathised, insisting that she let the family know that they’re not alone. I then spent time pointing her to the support networks which can help, knowing that I was at the limit of what I could do personally (and literally). I’m not a medical or counselling professional so it’s best that those affected contact people who are.

We ended our conversation with her thanking me and breaking down again before saying goodbye. I hung up then gave up on the idea of decorating: the fleecy blanket on the sofa appeared far more appealing.

I didn’t know that a phone could punch you in the gut…… I do now.

* Some Mums are no longer with us as the road was just too tough for them. I don’t judge anyone for this and can understand it, but Henry couldn’t choose his time to go so I won’t. I’m stubborn like that.

Bereaved mothers in the UK and Wales are four times higher at risk of early death themselves. (Harper, University of York, BMJ -2011) I’m eternally grateful to my husband Gary for putting up with my frequently bizarre behaviour, my very supportive family and friends and Henry’s wonderful friends and their families. I’m staying put, thank you.

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