With the death of my mother Clare (Doreen) on 31st December 2015, my “annus horribilis” has drawn to a close. I have never experienced such a concentrated series of sad events. In summary:
June: the dear family dog Khymer had to be euthanised. Clare and I had been walking him on Takapuna Beach for eight years.
July: I learned that one of my closest friends in England had terminal cancer.
September: my husband Brian had a near-fatal heart attack and subsequently underwent major cardiac surgery, again almost dying from post-operative complications (as documented in earlier posts on this blog).
October: just a week after Brian was discharged from hospital, still in a weak state, my mother suffered a huge bowel prolapse. She too almost died, but survived an emergency operation which left her with an ileostomy.
December: my mother had a stroke which deprived her of speech and paralysed the right side of her body. After ten days in hospital she died peacefully with me at her side.
The decline in my own health over this period clearly shows how the repeated experience of stress – the long nights in emergency departments, the practical demands of caring for two sick family members, the continual worry about their welfare – can play havoc with the balance of body and mind.
The good things? My mother was able to live almost independently in her own home nearly till the end, retaining her sharp mental facilities – she still took an active interest in world affairs, enjoyed doing crosswords, and was able to read and comment on the novel that I completed shortly before she died. Acute medical and nursing services in the Auckland hospitals are first-rate. The kindness and helpfulness of family, friends and neighbours has been overwhelming. And my husband has made a splendid recovery.
Surely 2016 will be a happier year, though maybe not an “annus mirabilis”. I hope to recover my well-being enough to enjoy some outings and holidays with Brian, now that he has a new lease of life; to cope successfully with the task of managing my mother’s estate; and then maybe start writing again.