Today life is in perspective, the hail has stopped and the sun is out.
The run up to the new decade had highs and lows. Family highs, when we got together, and family lows when relatives had to return home. Dad’s funeral was over, it had been a cracking send off and he’d have been proud. There was about a month between the funeral and Christmas so it was back to work and start a new normal – I was a single parent person now.
The run up to Christmas in school is wearisome if you are in your mid 50s, grieving and trying to pretend everything is fine. There is the excitement about the forthcoming holiday, the anticipation of getting the right or best presents for everyone, ensuring the feast is suitably festive and ensuring that lessons are still being taught, students are engaged, colleagues are well. It is exhausting and everyone looks and feels a bit run down by the end of term. I was running on empty, trying to be the most efficient woman at school, attempting to fit in pilates and spin, busy, busy, busy… not time to think, no time to process. The human body can take a lot… mine had had enough as I had a huge cold sore and looked ghastly. I’d also had my second annual mammogram care of the Primrose Breast Care Centre… always a time of unease, not the mammogram itself but waiting for the results. The clinic was not too busy, it was efficient, the radiographer friendly and recognised me as a trustee. It was all perfunctory and the right boob was in place soon enough, the radiographer wasn’t happy with the first set of images and so we repeated the process… better to be safe than sorry. I chatted away about the Primrose charity, the ball, la la la la la la… not about being squished and wondered… if breast cancer comes back where will the make a new boob from.. nothing left on my tummy! (I’ve decided it won’t come back… if it does it will be a secondary form and it won’t manifest it self in my right boob… but it won’t… come on, cut me some slack… it won’t – despite that little voice at 3am saying “actually it is just lying in wait and when you’ve finished the drugs in 7.5 years it will pounce”. It had better not or I really will be cross.
However, there was a lot to look forward to as my eldest son Marcus and his wife, Marie were flying in on the last day of term and they were going to be here for a week to ten days. Our Aussie friends – my great “fiend” Antonia, were going to be over for Christmas with their family and down here for New Year. Usually, I would have said “stay with us” but I didn’t know how long the kids were going to be home for and other friends had offered to have them to stay and do New Year’s Eve.
The 20th December was the end of term, it was Christmas Jumper day at my school and I was resplendent in a completely hideous, polyester red jacket with Santa plastered all over it. Most of the staff and many of the students also dressed up and the feeling was festive. The deal was that lessons were to be taught as usual for most of the morning and then the final period was spent with tutors. Whist Christmas is a time of celebration for most it is also a time of high anxiety for other students. School offers sanctuary, it ensures there is a meal and warmth, friendship, someone to talk to if there is a problem who might be able to solve that issue and make going home just a bit better. The students finished at lunchtime and we had a staff get together to say farewell to those leaving, to say “we’ve made it” to the end of term. This was a bit rich from me as I’d only been back at school since 1st November so had done less than 50% compared to my colleagues – I didn’t have the right to be as run down as them.
As soon as decent I packed up and rushed home… the house was empty, this was not right as Marcus and Marie should have been there. Their bags were here but they had gone for a walk to get a breath of air after their overnight flight from Seattle and journey from Heathrow. I was a bit disappointed but got over myself when I saw them. Phoebe was home too and later that afternoon mum was coming round so that we could go to the Primrose Carol Service.
The year before I had been one of the speakers at the service and this year I was part of the congregation or audience. Just as well as we arrived late due to my inability to read the time on the web site. Parking was an interesting experience and we snuck into the back of the church. This comes from the Primrose Facebook site “The Stanborough Chorus and both the choirs from Holy Cross & The Cathedral school who brought the Christmas magic to the Cathedral and made the whole evening a truly festive and beautiful event. In total we raised over £1,000”. It was lovely and made Christmas seem real. Mr X was one of the readers, my lovely friend Joy who now works at the Primrose Breast Care Centre also read, the school choirs were great, the Stanborough Choir amazing, the church was beautiful (and the heating was on!) and mum, Phoebe and I sang with great gusto – we are on the right of the photo on the back row. The holiday had begun.