That was the week that was May 11th
4th May was exchange day on our house in 22 Cliff Close and Simon and Ed moved our stuff into the Sea House (23) next door. Completion on May 21st – hooray one thing will be settled in all this mess.
The estate agent assured us that the buyers, who made the offer in January, were safe and keen and it would be done by the end of the day. But by 5 pm no news and our solicitor emailed theirs and said the agent must be a liar.
So Mark and I had packed up one house and moved into the airbnb one that already had enough furniture and stuff, but smaller wardrobes and a kitchen designed for a mouse to cook in.
Mark decided that his hundreds of spirit books would go to Amsterdam for training bartenders.
I decided that any books that could be bought back from Amazon for 1p should go to the charity shop. But gradually the garages in Seaford and Lewes fill up. And in my absence, Simon carts stuff to the dump before I could squeak.
Bank holiday Monday and my wonderful niece Mimi came with Daniel her American boyfriend and we sat on the Sea House balcony as the sun sparkled on the sea. Simon, Tamsin, Daisy and Charlie arrived. Such a hot day and they took the canoes out onto the sea and paddled round to Splash point. Constant eating and drinking as I found when taking the beer and wine bottles to the recycling bin next day.
Tuesday morning early, we hear that our buyers have dropped out. Four months of correspondence with our solicitor and some lame excuse about family matters. Despair does not cover it.
‘Bring it on’ I silently curse to the sky. What else could happen?
Well it did. My alcoholic younger brother Roger is reaching final stage of his addiction and his daughter Mimi has to watch in frustration while he pickles himself to death, all the time in denial that he needs help. I realise I have protected myself from the pain of someone ten years younger than me throwing his life away for his boxes of wine that he drinks for breakfast. And now his body is festering with sores but again I am protected from images arriving on my phone. I’ve sent a card and messages but he is too disconnected to care and will think I am nagging.
Mark decides that he wants to go away and I feel sick at the stress of travelling with him. ‘I know my body’ he shouts when I question how we will deal with his ailments.
‘Then did you know if you had cancer!’ is my sharp and unnecessary reply. I tell him I won’t go without travel insurance and he spends the morning ringing round the brokers listing his five cancers – bowel, lung, liver, lymph and bone. I feel his despair as each one refuses, then one offers £10,000 with limitations. ‘I’ll go without insurance’ he decides. My stomach churns at the thought of emergency medical helicopters bringing us home.
I set off to stay with my sister Isobel and my niece Polly with her delightful one year old daughter Velvet. And walk in the bluebell woods and spy a cluster of maroon wild orchids. Beautiful.
Home the next day, I agree to go to Cornwall after his May Fayre on May 20th. It’s the only plan I’ve put in the diary since February. Well, there were plans such as the trip to Uzbekistan but they have all been cancelled.
Friday 11th Mark gets a reply from his oncology nurse that he should not fly after chemo as there is a risk of infection and thrombosis. But we have non refundable tickets. And he’s prepared to take the risk. One of my friends, no name mentioned, says what have I got to lose if it goes badly wrong. And we laugh. She’s right. This journey is heading in one direction and we can speed or go the slow route.
Just listening to the inspiring Abi Morgan on Desert Island Discs ‘Enjoy the beauty of the moment’ she says. I must pay attention.
Went to see Barry, my counsellor. We chat like old friends but he leaves me with skills that I need to engage. Last week I tried to build a ring of steel around me to not get hurt by the daggers of cancer symptoms, so that I could lessen the pain of these times. But moving house raised rows and fears and the challenge of sorting stuff. It reminded me of watching Michael Landy’s Breakdown in 2001 where he destroyed all his stuff in an assembly line in the old V&A store in Oxford Street. I wish he would visit me and free me from my things, that I think are heirloom treasures, but they are not.
This week I need to learn to live for the moment more, engage in more courage by going away and confront angry shouting by walking away from it. Mark may be full of cancer but it is unkind to accuse me of selfishness at this time. I read a list to Barry of the week’s events and he says I am in need of respite care. The list is too serious and I am running on empty and will crack unless I look after myself.
Mark and I are used to spending time apart, and the cancer has thrown us together in a place, Seaford, that I have come to hate. So time away is going to be important.
Key words – courage, more of it, respite, enjoy, barriers, get out and about, laugh a bit.