Tag Archives: loss

“The Shy Butterfly” is Published

In August 2009 I reblogged an entry from Reconstructing Christina called “ You said “, possibly one of the best things I have ever read.

Click here to read You Said……

Christina’s story, her loss, and her struggle to rebuild her and her families life reached out and touched me.
Now Christina’s Mum, Penny, has published this book in Duane’s memory.

As Penny says, all the monies she receives will go to Christina’s family for now and in the future.
I’ve already bought it from Amazon, will you do the same ?

For Christina and Duane and their lovely brilliant family xxx

The Why About This


The Shy Butterfly

The Shy Butterfly is published. Now available at Amazon.com. As I write this announcement there are tears running down my face. When I first wrote this story six years ago, the inspiration for the story (which I shared with him at the time) was Duane Brownlee. My daughter’s husband.

the brownlee familyA man endowed with an amazingly happy outlook on life and people. His, a gentle positive attitude about living each day to the fullest. This then was Duane. Three years ago on the weekend of his son’s tenth birthday, Duane was struck and killed by a drug using motorist, just several blocks from his home. I was there, a tragic traumatic event, his family’s lifeDad with children changed forever.

They’ve carried on. Filled with the memories of his loving and happy nature living within each of them.

This book is dedicated to Duane and all my monies received from the sale…

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Hours to minutes – how soon is now?

And so began  the worst 24 hours of my life.


We woke up early as we had to pack, and also because I had received a message from home.


14/07/2011 06:59

mum had stable night, heart rate up to 70-80, responding a bit when you talk to her, still in pain so had more pain relief. Doesn’t mean she’s out of the woods tho

14/07/2011 07:02

Thanks Al, that sounds quite good. I’ll take no news as good news. Have you managed to get any sleep yet ? X

14/07/2011 07:04

We bogged off to a hotel last night and got a good 6 hours. We were not functioning at all yesterday.

14/07/2011 07:08

Thats good news too, also that mum was well enough to be left 🙂 are the doctors giving her a better chance now or is it still the same outlook but just with a longer time span? X

14/07/2011 07:10

We left because we could no longer function and they told us to go sleep. Not seen doctor yet so don’t know the answer to your question.

14/07/2011 07:13

Ok Al, just grabbing at straws

14/07/2011 07:15

So are we. Dont read too much into my brusqueness, it’s just text language 😉

14/07/2011 07:17

;-)Okey dokey thanks for telling me. I was a bit concerned 😦


50 years ago


Again the untold story of the texts is that talking to my sister on the phone elicited the information that the doctors had said they were thinking about a chest drain ( more below) and if this was successful, then Mum  would have to have it done every 3-4 days depending on how well they cleared up the infection…


EVERY 3-4 DAYS.. that’s what they said, every 3 – 4 days….

I told you mum was a fighter, but this was close on a miracle.


I thought about the email I had sent to my boss the night before.. “ I’m going to look a proper twat – I’ve just told my boss that my mum is dying,she’s got 48 hours to live, and here we are looking at a minimum of 3- 4 days but not only that , an ongoing EVERY 3 or 4 days.

This implied more than one op, and I was ecstatic..

Hope at last!

We finished packing and went to the beach barbecue relatively happy. Happy enough to enjoy it , and not be as miserable as sin.

I had forgotten those words No positive outcome


Stiil on the beach later that afternoon, more messages,

 14/07/2011 11:38

Doctors have decided that that mum is sufficiently stable for her to have a small op later this afternoon to put a drain in her chest to get the rest of the pus out. They think benefits outweigh risks as anti-bs will never clear infection on own and should also make her more comfy.

14/07/2011 11:43

That’s got to be good news .when will they do op? Good Luck to her , fingers crossed . I’ll wait for news love to all x

14/07/2011 11:44

They dont know the time yet, but hopefully this afternoon

14/07/2011 11:47

Okey dokey Ali hugs to everyone especially mum xxx


We said our goodbyes to our friends on the beach,and went back to our room.

Showered and dressed , we were just about to go for something to eat before we went home, when a message arrived.

14/07/2011 16:01

No news re op time, may be last thing tonight or if surgeon too tired may be tomorrow. We will probably go back to mums tonight if there is no change. I would suggest you go home from flight rather than straight here and then come over in the morning.

14/07/2011 16:09

Okey Ali, we were just discussing what to do. Do you want me to come to mums first or shall I go to the q.e in the morning.? Also what ward / floor is she on? I gather she is stable now ( good) have the docs said any more about her long term prospects ( or am I grabbing at straws again ) see you tomorrow x

14/07/2011 16:12

Suggest you come here, area d of critical care, opening visiting, ring the bell and say you’re mrs lords family. Stable is neutral, neither good nor bad, a plateau from which things will either get better or worse and there’s no guide as to which as this point.

14/07/2011 16:14

Ok thanks Ali, keeping it real 😉 see you tomorrow morning x


We went to our usual restaurant, had our meal, and were just finishing when the phone rang. It was my sister.

 “ The doctors have told us that Mum is dying. All her organs have failed and she is in a coma.  She’s definitely not going to make it through the night, and you are not going to make it here before she dies.”


My whole world collapsed in front of me. I could hardly speak for crying. It hurts now to write about that night


“ Poor old Mum “ I kept saying.” Please tell her I love her, and I’m going to miss her “

“ I’ll try , but she’s not conscious and she’s in a coma. Do you want to stay where you are? “


I considered this for a few seconds.. part of going home was to see Mum before she died. That wasn’t going to happen now, so what was the point.

 My family that was the point, my brothers and sisters who had stood guard over my mums bed for 4 days, waiting for me, their older brother to come back.

I suddenly felt the need to be with them, for their comfort and mine so I told my sister we were definitely coming back on the same flight and we would see them later.

Ok she said, and started to say something else, when she interrupted herself “ We’ve got to go now, I’ll phone you back straight away.


10 minutes later I was just sending


14/07/2011 20:16

Ali please tell her I love her, I’m going to miss so much & I’m sorry I wasn’t there when she needed me 😥 love to everyone I love you,alla

When I received


14/07/2011 20:16

Shes gone x


14/07/2011 20:18

Oh my god !!!!!! 😥


That was it. The rest of the evening was a blur.

I went and sat on the beach, the sea crashing on to the sand, tears streaming from my eyes, rolling down my cheeks and dropping into the dark blue mass of the sea.

For a minute I thought about throwing myself in there too, but I pulled myself together enough to walk back up to the restaurant and announced

 “ She’s dead… Mum’s dead! “

We said our goodbyes in a river of tears, I don’t know how we got to the airport, I drove apparently but I don’t remember any of it.


72 years ago

When we got to the airport,  my wife told the rep what had happened and asked him to help us check in, which to his credit he did

We then had a nightmare of a check in, with the check in girls demanding that we open the cases up to show them what was in there

“ It’s all fucking dive stuff “ I exploded, tears rolling down my cheeks.

“ ‘I’m sorry “ she said “ I’m really sorry, I have to do this, I have to check, I’m sorry I’m sorry “

She could see what a state I was in, and to be fair it wasn’t her fault, but right then, out of all the times and all the flights I’ve taken in my life, I really didn’t need all this hassle.

We finally checked in and boarded the flight.

I had missed her by just a few hours.


If only’s were running my head then and are running through my head even now.

If only we had got an earlier plane, if only we hadn’t gone on holiday if only if only if only.


Mum was gone and my life was about to change.

Time to go home now and face the future.


24 Hours.. just 24 hours

1 Day left- 24-HOURS – Wednesday 13th July 2011

With Mum being transferred to another hospital in the early hours of Wednesday 13th   , sleep that night was out of the question.We should have gone out with our Greek friends for something to eat (an occasion that we had been planning for a year) but because of the uncertainty of Mum’s condition and her imminent move, we pulled out.

It wouldn’t have been fair on everyone there, and also I felt like I was doing the dirty on my family, who were still at the hospital, and had been since Monday.

I tossed and turned until the early hours of the morning worrying about Mum, still undecided of the best thing to do, do we stay or come home, waiting for my phone to ring…which it did at 2.17 am UK time 4.17 am Greek Time.

It was just getting light.,…

 13/07/2011 02:17

Phone recharged tho signal shite. We have all made it to the QE alive, mum included! She’s hanging on in there.


Go girl ! She’s a fighter & no mistake 🙂 good luck to her, all our love xxx


Hi All, I’m so so sorry that I’m not there with you all. Thank you all so much for everything that you have been doing, I love you all so much. Hold her hand for us please, give it a squeeze & tell her we love her & are going to miss her so much it hurts. God knows what is must be like for you all there, it’s not good here 😥 xxx


That was it; my mind had been made up.

Against all the odds Mum had survived the journey, unbelievable..

God I was so proud of her.

 My brothers and sisters were exhausted, I was exhausted and I needed to be there, be in the hospital with them and Mum.

We were going home on Thursday, whatever the cost.


I called the dive centre, and told them that Mum was dying and we were going home.

We would come and pick all our gear up before they left harbour. They were very understanding and sympathetic, and said they would have it ready, which it was.

I don’t remember driving those 45 kms toKostown, I do remember crying my eyes out so much on the way that we had to stop for 10 minutes for it to stop.

When we got to the centre, our friend who owns it gave me a big hug, and I just burst in to tears again. I couldn’t stop, in front of everyone, the tears rolling down my face and in to the harbour water.

We said our goodbyes, and wished each other good luck, the tears running  down both our faces now.


13/07/2011 08:52

Hi Al, we are coming home either tonight or tomorrow, should be back Friday at the latest. Can’t hack it here, can’t stop crying.Paradise isn’t so nice anymore. Will call you when I have a definite time/ flight. How is the poor old girl & how is everyone else? X


She’s hanging on in there, so are we. Doctors to update shortly. No Positive Outcome, just a matter of time and making her comfortable.


The stress was on the no positive outcome and this confirmation of how ill Mum was didn’t help at all, causing another outbreak of distraught tears. When I had recovered I phoned my sister up for more news… and got a stressed out woman, who had had very little sleep for the last 72 hours, not too much to eat, and was at the end of her tether.

After a short conversation I put the phone down, feeling like I had been given a proper flea in the ear.



Sorry I got a bit shirty earlier, need a glass of wine and a weeks sleep;-) I know you’re just trying to make it through. Same for all of us.


Al no worries at all. You are coping with this so much better than I could even think of, & I will be forever grateful to you, to you all. I’ve been in the 24 hours hospital pressure pot) tho not for as long) & I know what its like. We can all just do our best, when I said earlier about seeing everybody it was because I just want to hug you all. See you soon, fingers crossed for the next update xxx


Hi, how did the 4 o’clock update go? How is mum? X


No change, for better or worse. No immediate danger. Just wait and see.


Sorry Al, will do 😦 just worried about her as we all are x


No I mean they’re saying we just need to wait and see…


That was it…

It was now as my sister had said a matter of waiting. The Q.E. had run a load of tests on Mum, and had managed to remove some of the pus from her chest, Mum was responding to the anti biotics at last, but the outlook was still not good..


I still had another week of holiday left after we got back, which I could see was going to be spent at the hospital all the time,supporting Mum and my siblings, so I thought it only fair to let my boss know what was happening as although the prognosis wasn’t good, the time scales for poor old Mum were changing by the minute.




Hi Ed, / Karen.

 I have had some very bad news from home about my mum and we are coming home  this Friday as the hospital has given her 48 hours to live.


 She had a fall while we were here, and was on the floor for at least 24 hours- the carer found her on Monday- she didn’t use the phone or the careline.. I don’t know why?

 But we didn’t find out here until Saturday evening, as my family didn’t want to worry me  & the prognosis wasn’t too bad.

 As the weekend has progressed her condition has worsened, she has  developed a severe case of blood poisoning, and abscesses in her chest from the operation. Her chest apparently has never healed up properly, so the infection is very severe.

 This has got worse over the last 24 hours , she has been transferred to the Q.E. for assssment,which was a risk in itself, where the specialist has told my brothers & sisters that she has got no chance of recovery, the infection is too deep rooted, and that basically there is nothing they can do… just managing her pain until she dies, which could be anytime from now.

 She’s a fighter though & giving it her best shot, which might prolong it for the 48 hours, so we might get back in time , though it isn’t likely.

 They aren’t going to put her onto a ventilator or life support as all this would do is prolong her suffering,.


 I’m sorry to send this terrible news by email, but I can’t talk at the moment, & I’m finding it very hard to keep myself together right now.

 It’s not fair on our friends here, or the other holiday makers, so we have brought the flight forward a week.

 I won’t be in next week as arranged, but I know that K is off for a week after that. I’ll try my best to get in but I’m not sure right now how long for  / when that will be.

 It might be a good idea to refresh other people with cashing up

 Sorry both, I’ll call you when we get back. I though you should know, it’s a bombshell 😦

 Hope your last 2 weeks have been better than mine, Ed you were right, what have we done???




The rest of the night finished in a bit of a haze with lots of tears. Tears of sorrow, tears of hope. We found some more Jack and finished that off  – not as much as the last time though,  I needed to be able to wake up if anything happened .

The next day, Thursday 14th,  we were due to go to a beach barbecue with our friends.

A lot depended on the news about Mum, if any, that night.

Mum was a fighter and would give it her best shot, whether she was unconscious or not, but at the back of my mind all the time were three words…


No Positive Outcome.


Days to hours – 48 to go

This gallery contains 3 photos.

And God WAS willing. Mum made it through the night.. told you she was a fighter!   Plans made were plans changed, and they were changing by the minute. We were supposed to be going scuba diving that morning ( … Continue reading

4 Days

4 days of living left… less than 100 hours…

My Mum

Sunday 10th July 2011, and Mums struggle to live was intensifying.

I have been reading through her hospital notes for this time and I have to say, some of it makes for a hard read. It details her ailments upon admission, the tests they did when she came in, and as her condition deteriorated, what steps they took to treat her.

I’m not going to go into fine detail now, the contents of the report are and will remain confidential, but I will disclose that even as late as the 9th they were arranging  appointments for 4 weeks later…

4 weeks.. so if they didn’t know at the hospital, where Mum was receiving 24 hours care, just how ill she really was ( dying ),  how could we?

My  sister went to see her in hospital that day, where she noticed a dramatic improvement in Mums care ( mainly because of 2 complaint letters detailing lack of care ), but she also noticed that mums condition had worsened from the day before.

Mum had been coughing and  very breathless, and  the scar from her heart operation had become  swollen and imflamed.  She was very weak, barely conscious, and slept all the way through the afternoon and evening visiting hours.

Clearly there was a problem, Mum was getting worse, not better, and this problem was not going to go away by itself, so suspecting some kind of chest infection, the Doctor prescribed Mum some  intravenous antibiotics, and sent her for a chest x ray, the results of which would be discussed later.

It turned out she HAD got a chest infection, that this infection had got in to her chest bones and chest cavity, and that the swelling of her scar was actually her body trying to rid itself on the poison that was eating its way through the bones in her chest.

The poor old lady was really very ill indeed, though at this stage we still didn’t know that in reality Mum was in fact dying, and arrangements were made for the doctor to discuss Mums condition and future care with my brother the next morning- please note  – future care

Meanwhile we were in Kos, in the sun, enjoying  what was to be the last full day of our holiday, we had been to the beach, been on a boat ride, enjoying all the good things that a holiday gives you, but all the time thinking of Mum, and waiting for news to come through on my mobile phone… There’s an old saying that no news is good news.. not this time I’m afraid.

I thought I would share some of the texts that were exchanged at that time and over the next few days, just to give an idea of what it was like. It was about to become a rollercoaster ride of good and bad news for us, of hope and despair.

Text from my sister Sunday 10th July 2011

“Latest update to all; been in to see mum, fast asleep all visit (her not me!) as recently had morphine for pain relief (T, q for doc tomorrow is plan to treat rheumatoid so they don’t need to give morphine, C may be able to assist with additional info). Fluid build up in arms, doctor coming to review. No brace on knee (of either kind). Yesterdays letter of complaint clearly reaping dividends as mum looks much more comfy, swanky pressure relieving air mattress switched on, loads more assessment forms in folder (tho some not filled in recently) table within easy reach and staff nurse hovered all visit! Agreed she will refer mum to dietician re weight loss and build up drinks. T, over to you tomorrow to get full coherent picture of status and treatment plan when you see the consultant 😉

“Thanks, whats this letter of complaint all about? X”

“Them being shite at telling us what’s going on, not handing over info between different shifts and not paying her enough attention. All over her like a rash now!”

At the time, all the family was very concerned about this lack of  basic care for Mum, and were worried that her condition was being worsened because of this, but in hindsight, that Sunday 10th July was the beginning of the end, the defining moment when things really went down hill, and Mum started to lose her fight to live as the infections ravaged her frail frame.

It breaks my heart to think of her there, drifting in and out of consciousness, doing her utmost best to win this final battle. She had always been a fighter, and an incredibly strong willed woman, there was no way she was going to give up without a fight, even if the odds were stacked massively against her.


The Last Time Ever I Saw Her Face

I finished off my last entry with these words ” I’ll never forget our last words and sights of her… we were leaving her house about 10pm on 28th June last year. We had taken some food round for her, … Continue reading


Months To Weeks – Weeks To Days

   As July approaches we are coming up to the first anniversaries of when it all started to go wrong, and my world collapsed…. actually this time last year it HAD already gone wrong, but nobody knew…. Mum only had … Continue reading