A very wise friend told me back in the summer, 'life goes on' and it is only lately that I have properly understood what she meant. She is much more experienced at the being ill thing than I am but now that we have been at this for five months, I realise what she was trying to tell me. Life does go on... just not for me. I am like the pooh stick in the stream that gets stuck under the bridge as all the other pooh sticks, like my friends, go rushing on towards the sea. Leaving me, well, stuck.
The last couple of weeks have left me exhausted and although I should be dancing around - perhaps to Agadoo in my white dressing gown (only my children and the Barnsley lodger will understand that reference - sorry, but there was alcohol involved!) - because I have now had five out of six chemo sessions, the reality is that just getting through the day is as much as I can do. But I am buoyed along by some of the extraordinarily kind and sometimes very unlikely things that my friends have brought to my door and this week has been particularly wonderful on this front.
My brilliant friend, Toni Storey (name in full so you can google her) is an artist of amazing talent and if you have been in my conservatory you will have seen the mural she lovingly painted for me many years ago. During the summer and autumn whilst things were going particularly pear-shaped here, Toni was working on a painting called Lavender Skies, the inspiration for which was drawn from the lavender fields at Snowshill in Warwickshire (my home county). As she painted, she sent me regular updates of the picture so I could monitor its progress whilst she monitored mine. The painting is now perfect and complete and we saw it a few weeks ago in Warwick at the Mitchell Gallery. And on Monday, she arrived in Harrogate with a magnificent print of Lavender Skies just for me. It is wonderful and her generosity has moved me beyond words. I will look at the painting and always remember her extraordinary kindness.
The second thing, though not chronologically, was waiting for me today in a large parcel when I returned exhausted from a client meeting. (One of my clients gently asked me today when were my good days - this is it, I replied. Hmmm...). I have been a bit of a demon on the internet shopping of late so the parcel could have been any number of things. What I was not expecting were nine hand-knitted hats from Budleigh Salterton in an eclectic range of colours! Thank you, Doris, you've blown me away!
And the third thing was a phone call from my hilarious writer friend from Blackpool, Four Chairs. It would take too long to explain why she is called Four Chairs (though it features in an early blog if you really want to know) but we met on the terrifying writing course a few years ago and have stayed in touch - why? because we make each other laugh. Anyway we mostly keep in touch by email but as soon as I heard her London East End tones and the seagulls in the background, I knew. As we have only met for one week in Hebden Bridge on the writing course, what we know about each other's lives is only what we have told each other. I know that she has a partner/husband/significant other who "doesn't let me f****** smoke in my own f******* house" - hence she rang me when she was in her garden having a fag.
Over the years, I have pictured the aforementioned partner/husband/significant other whose name she has not seen fit to tell me, thus giving me free rein to make up an entire character. He is, in my head, in his fifties, perhaps a one-time pugilist and as hirsuitically-challenged as I am currently. Anyway, Four Chairs tells me that he has got a new job as a pizza wrangler. 'Pardon?' At this point, I am thinking the following (any attempt at reining in my imagination is long gone): Four Chair's p/h/s-o is on a horse in chaps (of course) attempting to lasso big margaritas with very short legs. Disappointingly, pizza wranglers turn out to be pizza delivery persons but as we live so far from any such sophistication I shall probably never know whether they wear chaps.