It's a typical Friday, except I'm on holiday in Manchester. My Step-Mum has picked me up, and is currently driving me back to her house when, unexpectedly, she breaks the news:
My Nan is dying.
Now, her timing may well have been unexpected, but the news itself is not. Just last week I saw Nan, and she was surviving off oxygen tanks, at her side at all times. It was the most ill I'd ever seen her, and her mood was horrible because of it. I think it was quite apparent that her condition had degraded considerably since the last time I'd seen her (December last year) and afterwards me and Dad had a discussion about her, and her sickness.
We agreed that she probably didn't have long left to go.
Since that conversation Nan has been visited by Doctors, and they have made it official - telling Nan that she is now in the final stages of her illness, and has just weeks or months to live. The worst part of their prognosis being the harsh reality of when, or how, she will die: "Just like that" they said. She'll catch a cold, or another ordinary virus, and because her breathing system is now so week, the added stress caused will mean her breathing fails, and she will die.
Dad hasn't been told the news yet. He's a right old attention seeker, and when he is told he will probably twist it around so that it's him who comes off worse (not Nan, ha!) - so I think I'm dreading his reactions just as much as I am what will happen to Nan.
As for me? I can't say the news comes as any surprise, but after years of Nan being ill, you do fall into the trap of thinking that because she's still around, the same old Nan as before, she's invincible in a way. The shock comes from realising that she's actually not at all; and it emphasises that for all of us, every life ends, and one day we too will die.
It's now Saturday, and I text Mum last night to let her know about Nan. Even though Dad & Mum split years ago, in a way Mum likes to remain within the gossip-circle of my Dad's side of the family. Mum, naturally enough, told my sisters - and this morning we're all gathered in Mum's living room; not really talking about the news, but it remaining surface level of all of our conscious thoughts.
Overnight, Dad has been informed of everything.
Later it's my niece's 1st birthday party, and so me and my sisters venture around to my step-broter's house for the party. Dad is there, and he's moping. There's no immediate signs of him using this horrible news to his advantage... yet. I've no doubt it'll come. Again, nobody is talking about it. We're all pretending that life is normal, and we haven't heard the news.
Except we have.
My Dad complained last week that my sister's don't take their sons around to see my Nan very often. It's true, they don't. They probably have their reasons, and it's not my place to judge. Today, mind, we took a family trip out to Nan with Dad; and it offered the girls a chance to see their grandmother, and in turn Nan got to see Donna's little boy Tyler (Sarah's son Jamie has the cold, and so can't visit.)
Nan's spirits are better today than they were this time last week when I saw her. Perhaps because one of her baby great-grandchildren was visiting, or perhaps because it's official now, and she's determined to spend the rest of her time 'happy', I don't know?
There's an inevitable part three to this story - the story of the next few weeks, or months, where Nan is looked after, made comfortable, as the end approaches.
Then there's a final part of the story to be told - her end, and what happens next.
It's unavoidable now, and there's no more hiding to be done.