My Story

I wrote this post a while ago, yet I never gathered the courage to publish it. It's something that is so personal, yet I feel that it's a story that needs to be shared. The truth is, I've met a few new people recently, and there's always this growing sense of anxiousness of 'when will they start asking questions about my family?' and 'how am I supposed to tell them?'. Regardless of how it may seem on here, this is something that I really don't like talking about - after every post regarding this subject matter, I have to force myself to press the 'publish' button. The sheer thought that talking about it may help people always drives me to do it, no matter how against it I am.

Let’s start from the beginning then, shall we? I was born on the 7th April 1999, at whatever time - does that really matter? I was a tiny little thing, 3lbs 11oz, and was the last one to be delivered. Notice the ‘last one’ bit? See that’s the thing, this wasn’t just my day to shine; I shared it with my brother and sister. I am one of three, with one minute between one baby and the next. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I realised being a triplet wasn’t a very ordinary thing, yet I obviously didn’t know any different. It makes me laugh, because one of the most vivid memories of my child is me watching a documentary of a set of quadruplets, and sitting on the seesaw in the garden thinking 'Aw, I’m not special anymore’. 

I always knew I was a little different, yet for most of my adolescence I tried my very best to blend in with the crowd - which is considerably difficult when you have hair the colour of a tangerine. My family were a little quirky - we did things that not many other families did like bake bread, call poppadoms ‘pompadoms’ and instead of jetting abroad for 2 weeks in the summer, we would be just as happy nipping up to Wales with a 4 man tent, which we later upgraded to a trailer tent - how posh!

However, 2014 is the year that everything changed. After attending a Ben Howard concert in October, my brother had his first seizure. At first we blamed it on the vodka that he had sipped moments before he went into the O2 apollo, yet I began to be faced with what would later become daily emotions of mine - dread and fear. Luke began to undergo a series of scans and tests at the hospital, and we later discovered that he had a growth on his brain.

He went for his operation 2 days after we were told the news and, if I shut my eyes, I can still remember exactly how I felt on that very day. I still remember trying to do up his hospital gown before he went into theatre, yet my shaking hand was fumbling too much for me to do it. I still remember saying ‘goodbye’ and wondering if that was going to be my last one. I still remember sitting on the hospital chair and crying for what felt like years. I still remember nearly fainting when they told us the operation had gone as planned, and that Luke was just sleeping off the anaesthetic. 

Everything had gone smoothly, and I truly believed that this was the end of this heart wrenching scare. I was proved wrong when the dreaded C word was attached to my darling brother, and the first time I set foot in The Christie hospital to watch him undergo radiotherapy. I will never forget the day that everyone found out, how I walked into a classroom full of people who had just been told the news about something which seemed so personal. I remember thinking, ‘It’s real now, everybody knows’ and I knew that I could no longer live in my bubble where I blocked off reality. 

Time passed, and it seemed as if the treatment was going well. We had the occasional scare - Luke underwent another operation, and we constantly received bad news, good news, bad news, bad news, good news and then bad news again. The last set of bad news was the worst news you could ever ever EVER imagine. The cancer was no longer just in Luke’s brain, it had reached his spine too. It had spread everywhere, and there wasn’t a chance that it was going to be cured. My darling brother, who I had spent every single day of my life with, was now a ticking time bomb - and we had no idea of how much longer he had left. 

I’m still completely uncertain as to how I got through this stage, but I guess it’s true what they say - your strength always shines throughout the hardest of situations. I’m sure you’ll have guessed how this story ends - Luke was taken away from us on 2nd March 2016, and we have just passed the q year anniversary. The thing is, nothing can ever prepare you for losing a loved one - no matter how many self help books you read, how many counselling sessions you undergo or how many times you tell yourself ‘I will get through this’. When you lose someone you love that much, you lose part of yourself too - a part that you will never get back. 

It’s the afterwards which is the hardest part. It’s the stares of people as you walk into school the first time after the funeral, who are so unsure as to what to say - because what can you say? No words, no amounts of ‘I’m so sorry’ can fix anything - and there’s the constant feeling of anger that was unleashed from every sad smile I got in the corridors. Something I struggled with the most was the feeling of guilt - which I still feel today. It’s the constant questioning of ‘why him, why wasn’t it me?’ which I find myself asking at the darkest of times. My brother was, and still is, loved by everybody, and I honestly do mean everybody. He had this infectious smile which you couldn’t help but replicate whenever he was around, and he could have you laughing even at times where you couldn’t ever imagine smiling again. And now, when we need that more than ever, he’s not here. When you lose someone, you begin to start idealising how certain situations would be if they were still here. You begin to think that if they were here, they’d be able to fix everything for you - even though you know deep in your heart that that just isn't the case.

The truth is, there’s an art to losing yourself, and it’s so easy to pretend like you’re completely fine - even at times when you’re anything but that. I’m flawed in the sense that I put so much pressure on myself to be happy, mainly because I think that it helps people around me. Even when I get upset and I desperately need comfort and consolation, I hide away from everyone because I’m so scared of them seeing me this way. I’m terrified to let people in, because then they might see me as broken, and I know it’ll scare them away. Because, at the end of the day, nobody wants a misery guts. Everybody loves having happy people surrounding them, even when we all know that it’s impossible to be happy all of the time.  

If we hide away when we’re sad, then it’s like it never happened. Instead of crying, screaming and doing the most stupid things when I’m sad, I have learnt to turn to writing. It truly is such a cathartic sensation putting the pen to paper and releasing emotions that have built up over an infinite amount of time. Writing allows me to figure out how I’m truly feeling, and I am sometimes left in shock over the words which litter the page - I had no idea previously that I felt this way. 

When people praise me for my writing, it truly means the world to me. The words I write are words which come directly from my heart, and are so personal and dear to me. I struggle so much with vocally expressing how I am feeling, and my writing gives me a platform to be able to do that. Whether I’m happy, sad, angry or tired - the first thing I want to do is write. The moment that my pen touches the paper, or my fingers reach the keys, I know that I am about to be taken on a self induced journey - and it offers me a thrill that other people may find in rollercoasters, cliff diving or bungee jumping. 

And that’s it, that’s my story. Well, a bit of it anyway. The worst thing imaginable happened, and in the aftermath I’m learning to heal through the words that I write. I have experienced things at such a young age, that people will perhaps never experience in their lifetime - and to them, I hope they don’t take it for granted. I would do anything in my power to turn back time, but unfortunately the concept of a time machine only exists in the fictional side of popular culture. All I can do now is live my life, figure out who I am and what I want, and hope that one day everything turns out okay. I have goals and ambitions that I know I can so easily achieve once I set my mind to them, and whilst my life hasn’t turned out so great so far, I’m excited to see what the future brings.

See you next week,
Grace x


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