writing to heal

Monday Morning Musings #3 – Writing Through Pain


If you’ve read our book then you will know that my father underwent tests for prostate cancer and dementia last autumn and that both tests came back borderline. In December he turned 90 and we celebrated in style with family and friends.

Eight weeks later everything changed. Cancer was confirmed. Vascular Dementia was confirmed. Pa started walking with a stick for the first time. He was fitted with a catheter: his first real need to visit a hospital for 70 years and it signalled the beginning of the end of his world and of ours.

Since then he has gone rapidly downhill. My trips to visit him and my mother have become more frequent and last longer. Two and a half weeks ago he went into hospital with delirium caused by a urine infection and soon turned yellow. Pancreatic cancer. So frail and confused they dare not send him home without carers in place. Now it seems he may be too frail to manage the steps in the house and so he stays in hospital, using a precious NHS bed. No longer able to read. No longer able to hold a conversation because his words come out skewed. No longer able to retain information.

“I’m not really ill, you know,” he said to nurse who was inserting yet another cannula yesterday ready for another investigative procedure.

She laughed fondly.

I am telling you this not because I want pity nor to wallow, but because now, more than maybe at any time in my life I need the solace that only writing can provide. Several times a day I think, I must write this to Terry Anne or I must write express this in a poem. Facebook is not the place to write these words. Confined to a small white rectangle of space nothing I could write could do justice to the love and pain I feel right now. Doing so would desecrate this experience.

Yesterday I met Carolyn for lunch and told her the news.

“You can write to me, Jo,” she said. “And I’ll reply.”

Even though she lives in the next town the value of this simple, now considered archaic act, would be ten times that of writing an email.

I’ll be back in England next time it’s my turn to write the next MMM so I am writing this in advance. But before then, I’m heading to the sofa with a coffee, a box of tissues and a pen and paper. She may only live next door but I’m going to write to Terry Anne.

16 thoughts on “Monday Morning Musings #3 – Writing Through Pain”

  1. As one who shares my soul with the page I can understand how difficult it was to write this but so necessary to release the feelings that only a pen and paper can sometimes release. Sending my thoughts and a hand on yours Nikki xx


  2. Writing is indeed cathartic. When I don’t write, I feel something is missing. In your case, it’s to prepare you for the future heartbreak. Sending you lots of love and strength to prepare you for the change….


  3. Jo I am so upset for you. Your dad was so inspiring and a lovely gentleman. I remember the wonderful fun times at yours in Dubai with him and the laughs we had. I am truly sorry for you and yours. I know how much you love and respect your wonderful parents … in this we were kindred spirits. Family words and funny stories are what make us the characters we are. I send my fondest love and best wishes. When I lost my Dad my world has never been as good. Lots of love Haze xxx (crying now … writing does that).


  4. I so understand Jo. Writing about the decline of my parents was a blessing. In the midst of pain I too felt incredible love and a sense of the sacredness of life. Something that is very difficult to explain until it is experienced and I am not sure that I ever found the words that could express it. You are in my thoughts and heart.


  5. If we’re lucky, very lucky, our parents provide us with stability in a life full of turbulence. You are clearly one of those and it matters not if you’re 8 years old, 25 or a grown up yourself. When they fade, when we need to be the parent and eventually when they leave us, it feels like part of yourself is being torn away. You have my deepest sympathy and congratulation for finding a way to express the pain.


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