Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Unsung Heroes

I've been wanting to talk about this for a long time now. I have debated over and over on how to approach it or whether I should approach it. Ironically, I am quite reserved when it comes to talking about my personal life on my blog. Yes I will tell you the ins and outs of my student life and my non existent love life but I hold back on family and friendship. I feel because it involves other people it isn't my story to tell. However as it has been playing on my mind for so long I feel it's time to talk. Not to inform you all of my life but to show tribute, to show how inspired I am. For all I know I may write this post and never press publish.

At the end of October 2013 I lost my Great Auntie Lilian to cancer. I reread that sentence and it stings and brings a lump to the back of my throat. The 'C' word is a word you hear every single day. It affects everyone in some way whether it's someone you know close or from afar or you yourself, it's inescapable. Loss is another word you hear every single day. Loss is something we all face in our life and it is also inescapable. I was told grieving can last for 6-24 months. For me it's been 5 months and I'm still grieving. I can get through a week and manage to keep it at the back of my mind, to not dwell shall we say. However every now and then when I'm alone in my room, a song will come on shuffle or I'll see the letters and cards from her on my shelf and it'll hit me that she's gone, and then I sit and cry. Not for long, just enough to let it out.

That's when it hits me - I don't want to remember my Auntie because of the C word. I want to remember her because of the impact she had on my life. She lived in Wales and we lived in Manchester. She was my godmother but she was also like a grandparent to me. We didn't see her often due to the distance but I have a childhood full of memories of Saturdays or Sundays driving to Wales, playing on the grey drizzly beaches with my brothers and spending the afternoon drying off whilst having scones and tea in her conservatory. She'd always present us with toys we were too old for or clothing we'd never wear. We'd thank her politely and giggle about it on the way home. As I got older she'd present me with more useful things such as items for uni like storage bags, an electric blanket and letter writing sets and occasionally a treasured piece of jewelry from her past. When I left for uni she wrote to me every term, filling me in on the weather in Wales and the things she'd been doing. She'd always ask about my housemates and myself, ask about the weather in York and about how my cooking was coming along. I never get post so it was nice to walk through the door to see her elegant writing graced across a white envelope.

My favourite thing she'd given me as a child was for my 10th Birthday, she gave me a beautiful handcrafted wooden dolls house. For many birthdays after that she gave me little pieces of furniture and porcelain dolls to fill it. In my late teens I was stroppy and wanted the dolls house in the attic to clear space in my room. When I got to the age of 18 I began to cherish it again. I now want to ensure it stays in my life and is passed down for generations.

Now I am 3 months away from finishing uni and 4 months from graduation. I always assumed my Auntie Lilian would be around at this point and it is now that I feel sadder then ever. I know she'd be so proud of me for getting this far and I use her as my inspiration. She was the bravest women I knew. She laughed in the face of cancer and filled her life with colour, adventure, cats and love. Whenever I feel defeated by uni I sit for a few minutes and think of her. I want to make her proud so I suck it up and continue fighting. I dedicate my degree to my family because they support me so much and I wouldn't have gotten this far without them. I also dedicate it to my Auntie Lilian for inspiring me, supporting me and for doing more then I could ever ask nor thank her for.

Now before I close this post I want to point out two important players that had a role in this journey. Those are NHS Give Blood and Macmillan Cancer trust. Macmillan were the ones who cared for my Auntie in her final days. I couldn't do what their nurses do and therefore admire their strength and the work they do. As a student I can't regularly donate to them but whenever I see their box by a till I drop in what change I have from my purse. I also bake as much as I can for their coffee mornings. When I have my first job once I graduate I plan to regularly donate.

NHS Give Blood supply blood and save lives on a daily basis. I know my Auntie had blood transfusions and to know that there is an everyday ordinary person out there walking around who made that possible, I want to thank you. I have been donating blood as much as I can since I was 19 and I couldn't urge you enough, yes you reading this, to do it. Get past your fear of needles (I did), get past your fear of nurses (I did) and know that by donating one pint of blood you are saving a life.

Those who have donated blood, who work for NHS Give Blood and for Macmillan Cancer Trust, they are the unsung heroes in life's daily battle with terminal illness. I dedicate this post to those who fight when others can't.

So here it is. The post I didn't want to write but felt I needed to. I'm glad I have done it as I want you all to now the person who inspires me everyday.

Thank you for reading

L.Bel xoxo


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