Just Say Yes

I’m running out of ways to make you see
I want you to stay here beside me
I won’t be ok and I won’t pretend I am
So just tell me today and take my hand
Please take my hand
Please take my hand
Please take my hand
Please take my handJust say yes, just say there’s nothing holding you back
It’s not a test, nor a trick of the mind
Only loveIt’s so simple and you know it is
You know it is
We can’t be to and fro like this
All our lives
You’re the only way to me
The path is clear
What do I have to say to you
For Gods sake, dear
For Gods sake, dear
For Gods sake, dear
For Gods sake, dear
For Gods sake, dearJust say yes, just say there’s nothing holding you back
It’s not a test, nor a trick of the mind
Only loveJust say yes, ’cause I’m aching and I know you are too
For the touch of your warm skin
As I breathe you inI can feel your heart beat through my shirt
This was all I wanted, all I want
It’s all I want
It’s all I want
It’s all I want
It’s all I wantJust say yes, just say there’s nothing holding you back
It’s not a test, nor a trick of the mind
Only loveJust say yes, ’cause I’m aching and I know you are too
For the touch of your warm skin
As I breathe you in

Just Say Yes – Snow Patrol

I never intended my next post to be something dramatic, or sad. And yet here we are.

I found myself introspective at a time in my life when things were forging ahead despite the odds.

I found myself getting fitter from rowing, and looking at opportunities to move to Spain in the next few years, far sooner than our planned retirement age.

Then life throws you a curveball.

Many people don’t get pets and why they are meaningful in our lives. They think they are just animals and nothing to be emotional about. I don’t get those people. Chances are if you don’t understand the intuitive bond of a pet and lasting impact they can elicit, then I’m not a friend of yours.

I’ve grown up with cats my entire life, never had a day without one being present bar the time I was in the UK for the first time and living vicariously from dorm room to YMCA with the future husband. Saying that when we were in our first studio flat in London we couldn’t have had a cat, so I delete that from my history.

The moment we bought our first flat I told Marco that cats were happening. He was not as thrilled at the prospect being a dog person.

I assured him that THESE cats were not ordinary cats. They were very dog-like and had tons of personality. He wasn’t moved. But he soon became the Cat Dad of all Cat Dads and loved them like a champ. He won’t ever look back on a cat-less household either!

I forged ahead and located a breeder and within three months we had a pair of Tonkinese kittens, Mika and Tilo.

They both departed, 2016 and 2013 respectively. But when we lost Tilo, we got another pair of hooligans, Luther and Pelayo. We were aiming for a long and healthy life from this pair, and they were beyond our wildest dreams in terms of temperament and character.

When someone tells you about ‘The Big C’, it’s never a good day. Cancer is something that everyone has had in their lives. It’s certainly not unique to us or to anyone else we know. It’s ubiquity is what makes it all the more sinister.

We’ve all heard the statistics and know that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with it, so look around you.

Many cases are treatable now and that is what is inspiring. Even a decade ago, people would be in a far less positive space than they would be now with the same diagnosis.

Since everyone has been touched by it either themselves or knowing someone who has had it, this seemed like the right time to write about it.

My own cancer story goes something like this.

My mother-in-law Maria-José got ill and was diagnosed with lymphoma that was treated by the Spanish healthcare system. We visited Spain to see her when we were able to, and she had the most amazing wig that looked unbelievably like her own hair. I was baffled at the realistic recreation! If you hadn’t known she was sick, you would never have known.

When we had news afterwards that her treatment had rendered everything all clear, my father in law bought a Methusela of champagne to celebrate. Everyone was over the moon and thrilled at the news.

However, the result was short-lived. It never was clear on a second opinion and on that news my father in law Luciano returned that bottle to the shop. It was never going to be a bottle that was ever going to be popped for any reason.

She passed away quietly after everyone was able to be together with her one last time. With Marco being the most distant it was amazing that she waited until he was able to take that flight and be there.

My next encounter was with an amazing friend, Damien, who after having weeks of headaches (and a particularly bad episode on our arrival to their BBQ), was hauled into ER in an ambulance. Marco was with his partner Paula trailing the ambulance and then we got news that same day after a rapid CT scan that he had a golf-ball sized tumour behind his eye.

It was operable, which happened the same day, but not treatable in the sense that there was no possibility of it not growing back. That was inevitable and time was in the months timeframe.

Being a couple of their closest friends in the UK, we flew to Perth, Australia to be at their wedding while the tumour was out and nothing had regenerated as of yet. Our best friends here were with us as we were a triad of couples who hung out all the time and it was truly the trip of a lifetime.

Sadly, it was only a year later when Tanna and I returned to Perth but for a drastically different reason. Damien was turning for the worse after the tumour regrew and there wasn’t a lot of time left. Keeping to our promise to be with Paula in this horrific time, we flew back with three days notice and spent a week in the palliative care home nurturing and just ‘being there’ for friends who are like family in need.

It was a pretty difficult experience. There were a lot of tears and laughter but overall, a draining time. While driving one day between the hospital and the house, Tanna and I happened upon some Australian construction workers wearing those hats with the corks around the brim.

We were also tasked with thinking of something to supply to his funeral ceremony which would not be far off. The song ‘Just Say Yes’ by Snow Patrol came on as we were driving past those construction workers and I’ll never forget it, with us two just listening to the lyrics on the radio, we started crying simultaneously.

Those lyrics, for us anyhow, were about letting go, letting someone breathe in the last moments of happiness, and saying it was okay to leave. That we were okay and ready for it.

After saying our goodbyes, we took our return flight via Singapore. And for anyone who knows Singapore airlines, yes, we spotted Red Leader.

On our transfer flight we got news that Damien passed shortly after we left, and it was an overwhelming feeling of both relief and gratitude that he felt ready to go after all of the goodbyes. Being present for something like that changes you.

When my father in law himself was diagnosed with stomach cancer, we all knew it was not a good prognosis.

What we did do is spend as much time as we could with him in Spain, including bringing my parents there for a visit on their trip to the UK to see him for only the second time in their lives besides our wedding.

He was a magnetic, charming person to have as a father in law who wrote to his departed wife, his beloved Maria-Jose, day after day in a diary filling his book with details of the day and his thoughts and feelings.

I’ll never forget our last goodbye in the hospital on our last trip to see him. Jokes were made that whole time because I forgot to pack underwear and we had to buy some in Spain. That made him laugh a lot despite his pain. When we had to leave, fully knowing it would be the last time we saw him, I told him I wouldn’t forget to pack my knickers on the next trip while smiling, crying and kissing him goodbye.

My own father had prostate cancer. That freaked me out, but I also knew that the prognosis for that type was quite positive. After the operation, everything was back to normal and I sometimes even forget that this blip occurred in my immediate family.

I’ve had numerous friends at work or their loved ones with devastating cases of cancer, and the journey is never easy. So far they are all thriving or have beat it, but it doesn’t disappear off my radar. I’m always worried about ‘that text’ or ‘that email’ that will tell me something isn’t quite right again.

What hit us last Friday was my own cat Pelayo being diagnosed with Lymphoma. It’s in his stomach, intestines, likely his kidneys, liver, and bladder. So it’s been quite hellish around here.

All we can do is give him his steroids as prescribed and hope that we have more than a few weeks or months with him. We’ll do everything we can to make his life happy while we have him for as long as we have him.

He’s only nearly 8 years old. I was expecting to have him for many more years with his brother Luther, who I am worried about coping in the aftermath.

For now, we will just resonate with the lyrics of Just Say Yes, and breathe him in every day, enjoying the time we have and letting him have his best life.

I’ll let out the tears when I need to, curse the disease wantonly, and love him as much as I can.

Ultimately we will be able to Just Say Yes when the time comes, and do right by him. No suffering and no pain.

3 thoughts on “Just Say Yes

  1. Oh Cruise. If ever I needed a crying “hug” emoji…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow, you have really had your share of cancer diagnoses. I am so very sorry to hear of your cat’s diagnosis of Lymphoma. Sadly, Tonkinese, like Siamese cats, are predisposed to Lymphoma. He is such a beautiful cat. He is blessed to have such a caring and loving owner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Currently dripping in empathetic snot after reading this, my friend. So wishing you as much joy as is possible right now despite this truly heartbreaking news. Pelayo is a lucky cat to have y’all as parents. He knows it
    And yes I still cry every time I hear (and sing loudly to) that song!

    Liked by 1 person

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