The First Couple Months

I was 23 when I found out my mum was terminally ill, and was told that she could live a few months or maybe a year. Now, I understand that a lot of people deal with these kind of situations differently, but for me, one of the hardest things was that for me the world stopped, but for others it continued.

It’s not an easy thing to say, but I think it’s an important thing to say that I spent the first couple months just crying. Whenever I was alone, and there was nothing to distract me, I just cried. I felt so overwhelmed because my whole life I had lived believing that my parents would pass away when I’m already in my 40s, or maybe 50s. And now, suddenly I had to try to learn to live knowing that my mum could be dead the next week, or the next month.

I used to do morning shifts at work at the time, and a lot of the time I didn’t even feel like getting up. I just wanted to stay home, and just be miserable the whole day. But the problem is that once your world stops, the rest of the world keeps going. There’s still bills, and rent to pay, you still need to get money to eat. And so I continued going to work. I worked 50 hours a week. I went to work, and cried the first couple hours I was there by myself, and if I was long enough alone during the day, it was hard for me to not start crying. When I got home from work, I don’t really remember doing much apart from crying while watching some shows for the few hours before I needed to sleep. That continued pretty much every day for the first couple months.

I didn’t tell anyone at work about this. What could they have done or said to make it any better? This is something no one is talking about. No one talks about people losing their parents in their 20s. No one talks about how to deal with finding out your parent is terminally ill when you’re just a young adult. And because this is something no one talks about, it’s not something that had ever even crossed my mind, I didn’t think there was point in telling anyone. Because how in the world could they possibly understand the pain and ache I was going through? But, the truth is, I wish people knew about this, I wish people knew that this is something some people have to go through in their 20s. This is why I want to share about my story. I want someone else to be comfortable to tell people that they aren’t okay, and know that the people around them might understand the situation, and what they are going through, a little bit better.

– J


The Last Birthday

My birthdays have been always a bit strange since I found out my mum is terminally ill. Since 2014, I haven’t really known should I celebrate my birthdays or not. Should I be happy about a birthday when I know that it’s possibly the last birthday when my mum is alive?

Sometimes I wonder would I be more excited about my birthdays if my mum wasn’t ill. Would I want to celebrate them, invite people over, make a fuss about it? It’s something I will never know. And part of me is jealous of all those people, who can celebrate their birthdays without feeling guilty for being happy, who don’t have to worry about their loved one being dead before their next birthday.

But this post isn’t about just any birthday, it’s about my last birthday.

This year, my mum’s health has gone downhill a lot. She’s often confused, and she doesn’t even know what time it is, or what day it is. She might call in the middle of the night, because she doesn’t realise that it is night time. She thinks something happened a couple of weeks ago, when it happened just a few days ago. And she forgets things that she’s been told, and she thinks she’s somewhere where she’s not.

On my birthday, I was thinking she might not remember because I went to work without receiving a call from her in the morning. A lot of people easily forget birthdays because they are just once a year. A lot of people don’t remember my birthday. But, it is me. I am her child, surely she would remember my birthday, especially because it’s close to her own birthday, and she had a birthday party. So, if she had her birthday, that means my birthday is coming up. How could she forget that?

I came back home from work. Still no call from her. At this point, I figured, she probably forgot. But surely someone would think to remind her? Surely someone would call her, and just mention it during a conversation.

As I was messaging my sister, my mum called. I was surprised. I thought that she wouldn’t remember. I had been waiting the whole day for her to call me, I had even thought about calling her, in hopes that she would remember it’s my birthday. I answered the call. “Are you coming to visit with grandma tomorrow”, she asked. “No”, I answered, while being very confused because I don’t live near her, I couldn’t just go up and visit her. She explained that she wasn’t meant to call me, she was meant to call my aunt, and the phone call ended pretty quickly.

What broke my heart is that she didn’t even mean to call me. It was my birthday, and she called me by accident. Even talking to me didn’t remind her of my birthday. It never crossed her mind. It was most likely the last birthday I will have while having a mum who’s still alive, and she didn’t even remember it was my birthday. How could my own mum forget my birthday? She’s always remembered my birthday, always. And I think that’s what parents are meant to do, they are meant to remember your birthday, even if no one else does. And now I will have to live without hearing “Happy Birthday” from her ever again. I will have to live knowing that she didn’t even remember my last birthday.

It’s hard to explain the pain and ache this simple thing has caused. It might sound like a small thing that shouldn’t matter, but it does matter to me.
– J



How The Story Started

The first couple years seem a little bit blurred. I don’t remember them as clearly as the following years. But I think I was 22 when I found out my mum had breast cancer. I remember it being around Christmas when she told us. She went to the operation the beginning of the next year, I think, and everything seemed quite fine.

Then a year later, I was 23, I had heard that my mum hadn’t been all good. Just a few months prior to this, I had told my boyfriend that my mum had had breast cancer. I didn’t think that it was important, I just thought that it would be good for him to know, in case it ever came up somehow. Then, the morning before Mother’s Day in the UK, I got a phone call from my mum. She told me that the cancer had metastasized to the brain, and that the doctor said she could live a couple of months, or maybe a year.

That year, I spent every day, every month, knowing that my mum would be dead by the next Mother’s Day. And it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy knowing that every birthday, every day of celebration would be the last when my mum would still be alive.

But then, somehow, my mum lived past the dreaded next Mother’s Day. I still don’t know how. And somehow she’s still alive. Not doing very well, but still alive.

It was 2014 when I got the phone call, it’s 2017 when I’m writing this, over 3 years since I got that call. And it is still one of the few things I remember so clearly of that year, I don’t think I will ever forget receiving that phone call, and the moments that followed it.

– J

The Beginning

I’m not sure where to start, but I want this blog to be my story. My story about being in my 20s, and having a terminally ill parent.

I want to share my thoughts, and feelings, and hopefully reach other people who have lost their parent, or who have a terminally ill parent.

I want to talk about the pain, and ache. The daily struggles, the anxiety, the overwhelming feeling I get in the middle of the day.

It hasn’t been easy, being a young adult with a terminally ill parent, and I’m not sure it will ever get easy. But I hope my story will help someone, I hope someone else will feel less alone than I have felt during the years.

– J