Loss amongst the biggest year of loss

Loss amongst the biggest year of loss
Name: Kirsty Hallam
Pronouns: She/Her
Instagram: ha11am

I didn’t ever see myself writing something that would be shared with the world, now I think this may be my 3rd or 4th time doing it on Only Human? So thank you for creating a place I feel safe to say what is on my mind and hopefully writing something that someone can relate to.

This whole thing is still really raw, but I feel like I need to get it out and what is a better place than this? It feels really selfish of me to talk about loss when this has been one of the biggest years of loss for everyone and I feel like my Aunty deserves more than this year and everything. People have lost their jobs, their family members and their freedom to this current pandemic and it feels all kinds of wrong to be hurting so much and feeling like no one can relate.

My Aunty was a bad ass! She got cancer, lymphoma to be specific, 10 years ago and it was touch and go. But she kicked cancer’s arse and made it through. A year ago my Uncle was lost to a horrible, horrible brain tumour and it tore my Aunty apart. She had left home at 18 and never returned, she fell in love with my Uncle and they were married for over 40 years. He was her soul mate. When he died, a big part of her died too. She didn’t have any kids, but she was my mum’s best friend. My mum would ring her every day to see how she was and just to catch up on their days. She lived on the other side of the country. Although England is small, a 4/5 hour drive seems intense to us.

In August of this year, she went to the doctor with stomach pains. About a month later, she was told that she had cancer of the womb. Obviously we were devastated, how could one person be put through this amount of stuff in one lifetime? But we were determined to be there with her to fight it. I had spoken to work and said I would need to take annual leave and it could be on short notice, I got this approved by my manager and it was a waiting game of when this was going to happen. In October they told her that she had to go for more tests as it may of spread. Again we were hopeful, we never let the thought cross our mind that anything but a fight would pursue. In the middle of November she was told that it had spread and that they thought that her lymphoma had returned. She became more weak as the days passed. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t drink, but she was told that she needed to isolate so that when surgery would happen she would be good to go without the covid aspect coming into play. So she did. She did everything that was asked of her, she did everything right, she told my mum not to come down as she was in isolation, she told her neighbours not to come to the house, and she told family that she wouldn’t budge or relax on these rules.

I came home from work on the Sunday after not sleeping the night before worrying about my Aunty and worrying about the kids I am currently working with. I went to my room to lie down when I heard my mum crying. She never cries! I jumped up out of bed and asked her what was wrong. She was on the phone to my Aunty’s doctor and put him on speaker. He told her that she may not make it through the night, he said that her kidneys had begun to fail and he could not give her a timeline. I immediately threw clothes in a bag, threw clothes in for my mum, got her in the car and drove the 4/5 hours from Liverpool to Bournemouth. Tears were streaming down my face the entire way. How could this happen? How had we gone from planning which of us would go down for treatments first and who would swap out to being told we might not make it before she passed away? We got to the hospital in record time and she was still there, thank god, I thought! Thank god my mum gets to say goodbye to her best friend, to her sister. Thank god I get to say bye to my Aunty. We spoke to her for a while, I was cracking jokes as its the only thing I know how to do regardless of the situation. My Aunty whispered to my mum “I’m dying”. She then asked about what the score was for her favourite football team, Everton, and got the biggest grin on her face when she found out they had won for her.

We sat by her bedside for hours upon hours. At some point in the night, the pain became too much and she was screaming out to the room “let me go, let me go”. Those words will haunt me for the rest of time. To hear the pain in her voice, to see the pain etched on my mum’s face to hear her sister say that, I don’t think I will ever get rid of the feelings I felt for all of that. She didn’t leave without a fight, from the doctor saying she may not make it for the 4 hours it will take you to get down she kept fighting. She passed away at 3pm the next day. Before this moment I had never seen a dead body, never-mind watch someone die. This again will haunt me for the rest of my life. I had my first ever panic attack watching my Aunty take her last breath. I can’t explain the feeling of watching someone you love slip away and not being able to do anything but hold her hand and wait for the moment when she would no longer be there.

This time for me feels very different to if it happened any other year to this one. I would not feel guilty about talking about the immense loss I feel every day now that she has gone. I would openly talk to my friends and family about how much watching her go shocked me to my core and caused an unbelievable amount of pain. But it is 2020, it is the year that everyone has lost something. It is the year that families across the world have watched and will continue to watch members succumb to the horrible virus that is Covid. And so, I don’t speak about it, I don’t reach out to my friends and tell them I am really struggling to come to terms with it, I don’t create post after post about how much I will miss her and how hurt I am for my mum trying to navigate through this. Everyone has lost something or someone this year, so how can I? How can I be selfish enough to think that my pain is worse than theres? I can’t. So this is the closest I have and probably will come to talking about it.

I miss her everyday, and I feel bad for it. But at least she is back with my Uncle G and I can hold that for all that it is worth.