Transformation

There’s a custard cream in the pocket of my hoody. Though still in its packet, it’s getting very crumbly,  disintegrating as the weeks roll on. I’m not sure for how long I can keep it there, though it brings a sad kind of comfort each time I find it. She loved a custard cream, Our Cleo. She liked to dunk them in her tea, in anyone’s tea. This one was the last in the packet, there in my pocket in case she fancied one when out and about. It’s been there a while.

You see, the shift to the past tense is one of the aspects of ‘all this’ that’s hurting the most. One minute, there, with us. Another minute later, her life suddenly became located in the past. ‘Cleo loves custard creams’ versus ‘Cleo loved custard creams’. That’s really bloody hard.

Cleo died.

We didn’t ‘lose’ her, she didn’t ‘pass away’. She didn’t go to sleep to join the angels or whatever, she died. I feel harsh and bitter, but simultaneously soft and glad that the way in which she died was as beautiful as it was. Cleo died at home with us, her mummy and daddy, holding her gently, lovingly. She knew nothing, suffered no pain. She clung on so hard, so hard… Her wonderful fit healthy body just wanted to live so much.

 

 

 

 

I will miss you so much, forever. Forever. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t fix this for you.

 

 

 

 

It’s taken me what feels like a long time to write this. I really wanted to write. I wanted to tell it all. No pictures though, not this time. After Cleo died, I lay with her for hours. Family came in to see her and went again. I stayed, stroking her hair, her silky chestnut hair. The sense of freedom I felt was unexpected; freedom from slowly slowly slowly witnessing her slip away from us. Later, before the funeral directors had to come and take her away, I washed her. I washed Cleo’s lovely little body with the stuff from the ‘Body Shop’ (ha! I just realised that’s quite funny) that she really liked the smell of. What an extraordinary experience.

The last time her daddy saw Cleo was after so carefully carrying her little body downstairs, with all the strength and tenderness of a father’s love.

I went to see Cleo at the funeral directors a few days later. I wasn’t going to, I felt strongly so. She was dead, gone. I knew from losing my dad a few years ago that the last vision you have really will stay with you: did I want that? could I bear that? But a strange compulsion overrode my otherwise rational position. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I went with it and arranged to see her body, gently arranged in its casket. I made myself look, with care, and just take her in.

Glitter in her hair… unicorn nails… a rainbow of coloured sequins on her new yellow jumper… her shiny metallic pink earrings. So tiny… it’s so tiny… white, with silver handles that almost resemble little hands holding on, just like you held my hand. Just like you held on.

My beautiful girl. My treacle pudding. My precious. We’ll get a pug and we’ll call her Barbara. I’ll tend your cactus family, Bob, Jeff and Norman.

I knew when enough was enough. I even remember smiling, and feeling so definitively ‘she’s gone. She’s gone’. The experience of me being there with her was powerfully reminiscent of the nine months spent carrying her on the inside, time with her at the end of her life that was once again so deeply personal and intimate, as at the beginning. That’s what it was, the compulsion. To be with her once again in a way that could only be known consciously to me alone. I felt a sense of peace afterwards.

Let me tell you this: there is a baseline of pain that simply underpins everything. A constant, unending undercurrent of deepest pain. I believe that it will always be there and that I will grow to live with it. The pain does not exclude happiness – we have already tentatively gone back out into the world as my family slowly, carefully explores new ways of being and we have had happy times. We will have many more, I believe it, and I also believe that everything we do from now on will be underpinned by a sense of missing Cleo so much. It is terrible now, to go on with life, but not impossible. I hope that there will be a time in the future when I don’t cry multiple times a day. I don’t break down sobbing and wailing. It’s hot, silent tears that just overflow. Paraphrasing the wonderful Kurt Vonnegut, I much prefer laughter over tears; it’s a lot less messy.

As with the custard cream, I wonder sometimes about Cleo’s possessions. Her cosy bright pink jacket hangs by the back door. It seems to fit being there right now, but for how long will it stay? As her siblings grow up and fly our nest, will the jacket still hang there? Will it become an anachronistic symbol of a time long past? The accessible van has gone already, her wheelchair, her Blue Badge, that can all go. Symbols of her illness.  Leave me with her trainers, her teddies, her drawings, her writings. I guess we just go with the flow, slowly, gently.

Now, without Cleo, we are transforming. Changing state, both as a family and as individuals, from one way of being to a new one. Like Mike Teevee, floating up in the air, fragments of what we were, ready to re-form into something new. I am so sad that Ella and Oscar have had to go through this. Though I am proud of how we have all handled the myriad events of the last year, I am vigilant and fearful of the potential impact on them both. Ella was Cleo’s idol – one of her first words was “Awaaaaaaa!”, called out as she excitedly waited for her big sister to come home from school. In the last few months Cleo was just the same again, asking “when’s Ella back?” all afternoon and perking up noticeably once her mentor had returned. This love was by no means all one-way; Cleo was Ella’s best friend too. Not so much chalk and cheese as one being a big slice of smoked Applewood and the other a chunk of tangy feta; kind of the same, but so different. Equally delicious. The extraordinary compassion that Ella showed her little sister over the last year was just… stunningly lovely. I hope that she feels pride and comfort now and in the future. Fortunate are those who are blessed with a sprinkle of Ella.

It’s only been three weeks since Cleo died. I feel her everywhere, in the blue skies, in lines from a song, in the rebellious seeds of yellow and green which have escaped the farmers’ fields to settle contentedly in the hedgerow, growing tall to face the sun. They remind me of the warmth of her love.

In psychology, ‘transformation’ is where something changes so profoundly that it can never again be experienced as it once was. Reading this post has transformed custard creams for you; dunked surreptitiously in someone else’s mug or kept nice and crisp, you will eat them and you will think of Cleo. My gift to you.

One final gift, for now. Some words sent to us by a dear friend; author, alas, unknown.

A butterfly lights beside us, like a sunbeam…
and for a brief moment its glory
and beauty belong to our world…
but then it flies on again, and although
we wish it could have stayed,
we are so thankful to have seen it at all.

#TeamCleo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost and found

The first day of Spring has passed; I wanted us to get here so much. True to form, my psyche has been singing to me – it has lurked for a while, but now it is looping around in my head. The end of Act III of La Bohème, set in Winterwhere the protagonists Mimi, a florist, and the rather jealous poet Rodolfo sing about parting, then decide to wait and stay together until Spring comes: ‘Ci lascerem alla stagion dei fior!‘ (we’ll part when the flowers bloom). It’s made all the more poignant because, by this point in the opera, we’ve fallen in love with all the characters, not least because of their flaws. While the lovers consider the unbearableness of parting, the other couple in the piece (Marcello and Musetta) are simultaneously pelting one another with a full-blooded, insult-peppered separation of their own. It’s poignant, funny and thoroughly human. And it’s all about parting in Spring.

Sunshine beamed into Cleo’s room yesterday, where she has now taken up almost permanent residence. It was glorious to have the windows open. I felt heartened when a humongous bee drifted into her room; gladder still when the buzzing beast glided back out from whence it came. Later in the afternoon, confident that Cleo was safe and comfortable, I briefly went outside and found myself resentfully cursing all the signs of Spring. Thankfully, I have maintained my skill at batting away unhelpful thoughts; thoughts such as her never again being able to go out to see the blossom, or look for catkins, or pick daffodils, or forage together for the first fresh dandelion leaves of the season to feed her guinea piggy. Unhelpful. Bat, bat, bat. The problem is, to be able to push them away, you have to have noticed them, and by then the thoughts have already left their wretched shadow on your heart.

There have been moments this week and last where the sense around us was that we were losing Cleo. She was slipping away from us. And then… somehow… she found us again. Incredible girl! Long, long periods without communication, of sleep without words, then… a squeeze of our hand… the raising of a finger… the slow blink of her eyes to say ‘yes’. A few mouthfuls of food, a few sips of water and a fleeting smile, sustaining both Cleo and us. Occasionally, words.

We spend long periods every day keeping our beloved girl comfortable,  warm and safe. When her baby brother snoozes, we gently insert him into his sister’s arms, where he sleeps blissfully in her warmth. Making sure she has all her medicine, dressing her, chatting to her, putting CBBC on for her to watch, finding something she might like and be able to eat – often through a syringe, these days, as chewing and swallowing is not so easy. I gladly attend to every need – a mother’s privilege. She trusts us to care for her, just as she always has. Though it is truly intense, emotionally and physically wearing, it’s an honour to do this for her.

There are bits and pieces of medical equipment all around Cleo’s bedroom, but I squirrel them largely out of sight. This is her room, a child’s safe space, and I want it to stay that way as best we can. Here’s her view:

2019-03-21 14.40.21

From left to right: a photo of Cleo with one of her besties, in better times. A tile Cleo designed and painted; a shiny pink Eiffel Tower (what else?!) from our trip to Paris last November. A pineapple picture frame with a print reading “You are a Magical Goddess Unicorn Queen”. A llama, a chocolate bunny, some emergency medicine in case of seizures – I sanction that being in view because we need to know where is it, should we need it. A bookmark; her ‘Most Courageous Pupil’ award from school. Poems and cards from dear friends, a photo of toddler Ella with Cleo as a baby. A strange stone with seaweed poking out of it that she found at the beach. Pickle, her little fuzzy toy that she’s so fond of. Balloons spelling out ‘OLEC’ (a nod to her true Royal identity; HRH Princess Olec Woollybum). Symbols of love, affection, warmth, humour and good times.

I’m fighting with a pull to write about the horrors of our life as it really is, but, as with that delightful scene from La Bohème, it’s all so much more complex than a simple dichotomy of good and bad can express. There’s pain in feeding Cleo with a syringe; elation when she enjoys a drink of apple juice and looks at you with her giant blue eyes. Doing a happy dance when she eats something. Such sadness when her sister asks her a question and gets long seconds of empty silence in return… then, a characteristic eye-roll; Ella mutters sardonically: “so rude”. The kind of banter only a loving sister can get away with. Oscar hasn’t quite worked out how best to cuddle Cleo goodnight. Just all so confusing and difficult to understand.

Cleo is safely at home with us. She’s lovely and comfy in her own room, where we all camp out through the day. When we’re feeling strong, we find ways to take her out and breathe in the springtime air with us. We successfully challenge the sense that it’s otherwise time to climb into our bunker, bed down and huddle away until it is all over. No. Not yet. This girl has much more living to do.

 

Sleeping tonight

I’m sleeping in Cleo’s room tonight. I hear her soft snore, like a cat’s purr. It brings memories of sleepovers in the living room to mind; watching a mutually acceptable movie all together, snuggled under duvets strewn across the floor. The nagging sense that I should be getting them all to sleep at some point but, what the heck, this is fun! Picking up bits of lost popcorn for days later. The children may not remember such times consciously, but experiences such as these are internalized as happiness, abandon; as love.

I’m sleeping in Cleo’s room tonight because I’m worried about her. My precious. She’s sleeping gently now, as she always has done. It’s lovely, rhythmical, comforting. Beautiful child.

I’m sleeping in Cleo’s room tonight. She’s not been right today, or yesterday. We can see and feel her decline. There’s a change in the family atmosphere. We’re silently hysterical, searching for glimpses of something daft to lighten the mood and sustain us. We’re on a kind of lockdown. It’s our time now,  our time with our girl, our sister, our daughter, our baby, our child.

I’m sleeping in Cleo’s room tonight; I’m breathing her in so that part of me is formed from her breath. We’re so lucky to have her, to have the whole gang. At times when I wobble, I stop and think of all my children. I hear them chatter and banter and gurgle (perhaps just one of them gurgles 😂) and I hold on to the sense of there being a future. Of vitality, potential and energy.

I’m sleeping in Cleo’s room tonight, beside her, and because of that,  I am the most fortunate person alive.

Onwards

What an honour. I mean, what an absolute joy it is to spend time with this child. It always has been; I haven’t developed a sudden appreciation for her. She’s been a most marvellous creature since her entry into the world. Long adored.

She keeps going. I’ve no idea how she manages to still be ‘Cleo’. Her marvellous quirks, her dry take-downs of her brother (Oscar; Tristan is as-yet immune), her warm affection. Her ‘alright, you’ve got me’ side-smile. I know her so well.

All change

‘Team Cleo’ had a rough week last week. The clinical trial is finished with. When it came down to a choice of having a drug pumped into your child’s arm that just isn’t going to make the blindest bit of difference to their quality of existence and going for Cake and Tea, there was no longer any question. The cake and tea tasted great; the cuddles which accompanied were soft and warm. We tried, so hard, but the latest and last ever MRI scan told us no, no more. Enough.

I feel a huge amount of frustrated regret about leaving the clinical study, but it is the right thing. We furtively hoped, almost beyond reason, but this was not the ‘magic bullet’ that makes sensationalist headlines and sticks in people’s minds as offering a curative possibility. We have long said that we wanted Cleo’s experiences of having a brain tumour to have a meaningful impact, to contribute whatever we could, so giving something constructive through research felt like the right thing to do. But when time is unequivocally confirmed as being short, spending it richly well is the most important thing. A non-essential day a week in hospital became too costly.

We made the decision to tell the children where all this is heading. We had to give them the chance to notice and appreciate and begin to process and understand. I thought, with all my professional training and the preparatory thinking I’d done about what needed to be said and how to say it, that I was just about ready now to steer this conversation. That I’d hold it together and offer some maternal wisdom and clear-minded emotional support to my children (later dissolving into a glass of wine or three once they’d all gone to bed). The reality was that, in the moment, having gathered Ella and Oscar together, I crumbled into tearful pieces. Alex stepped forward with a gentle, child-sensitive, in-the-moment delivery of something so big and so grave but so kind and warm that I just listened in awe. His words said all that was needed while also keeping the children safe. He is a wonderful man.

They’ve been ok since, Ella and Oz, amazing individuals that they are. After giving them the news we all went out for dinner and then the cinema. It was almost normal. They know the door is open to answer any questions they have, any time. I’m not going to betray the privacy of their relationships with Cleo any further, only to say that the way in which the goodnight hugs at bedtime have been held, just a little longer, has been noticed. Oscar bought Cleo a new cactus. She named him Cedric. I adore this bunch.

Just the same

The last few days have been blissful. Steroids and luck have meant Cleo has felt well, so we have capitalised. Nothing elaborate,  just good quality fun happy time spent with friends and family. It’s been as close to ‘typical’, for us, as we could get. Totally glorious and sustaining. It’s been a relief to get together and be in the company of people who simply know us, who we can swear heartily with about the total unfair bloody awfulness of it all, who notice the tear that escapes and don’t probe for explanation, or offer undesired advice. And to drink beer and laugh, talk about how they’ve grown, about music; anecdotes.

Sitting around the table having breakfast together; Daddy’s homemade bread with multicoloured dippy eggs from our friend’s happy chickens (as well as the inevitable bowls of sugary hoop cereals).  I breathe it all in, try to take photographs with my eyes. Remember this, remember this.

Moments

I slept beside Cleo again last night, in case she needs anything through the night. It was completely lovely. Listening to her breathe, feeling her warmth. She rolls over, slowly opens her eyes, finds me there and smiles a smile of love, safety, gladness, before closing her eyes and dozing again. She entwines her fingers with mine and we both sleep contentedly. Early in the morning, I wake first and watch her as she snoozes while I breastfeed her baby brother. Her flawless cream skin, freckles sprinkled across her dainty nose and raspberry-sorbet cheeks. Long, long lashes. She’s divinely pretty.

Looking at photos from a year or so ago I reflect on how much Cleo’s grown up, physically. Her face and body have begun the process of at-first subtle change, but she is undoubtedly on the way to becoming a marvellous young woman. An automatic process beyond conscious control, beyond the reaches of the fat jellyfish. Also very hard to dwell on for long without slipping into the unhelpful realms of self pity. It’s so bloody cruel. But she’s still here beside me so there’s no room for the past tense, not now. Not yet.

We’re still here, together. We’re still living, soaking up togetherness. Devastatingly happy 😊

 

 

Not Knowing

We’re having an outing to our local theatre, just me and my girls. After Cleo’s ‘wibbly-wobble’ and her run-in with the A&E department a few weekends ago, I booked us some tickets in a fear-driven frenzy of needing to Do Stuff Now. So here we are; Cleo opts to sit with me while her sister takes up the single seat I’d intended for myself. I sense that she’s not really sure what’s happening or why we’re here, she feels vulnerable and prefers the safety of having her mum in close proximity to the fun and giggles of being next to her sister. El doesn’t mind – she gets priority over the box of Maltesers. Cleo takes off her glasses and hands them to me.

“Can you look after these for me, please?”

“Of course my darling”. I take Cleo’s specs, put them on myself and turn to her.

“Cor, Cleo, these are really good, I can see so much better with these on!”

She looks back at me, tilts her head, then says

“Oo, please can I borrow them? I’ve no idea where my glasses are!”

This adorable creature! I feel like we’re momentarily living in a Morecambe and Wise sketch. I mean, it’s a really funny moment, one I won’t forget, but as with all memorable comedy it is underpinned by pathos; sadness, even. Cleo’s memory has been somewhat iffy since her bigger seizure. It’s not possible to be definitive about the cause – drugs, tumour, another form of as-yet-unknown damage – but what we do know is that there’s no evident rhyme or reason to what Cleo remembers and what she can’t recall. It varies; sometimes she’s lost and confused, other times she’s more lucid and ‘with it’. The way she currently presents has been likened to dementia. I find that a helpful model for understanding her. She doesn’t really recognise her friends any more. She doesn’t remember ever having been at school. Films we’ve watched together, she no longer recalls. Yet, down the pub last weekend,  watching the rugby, surrounded by her loving family, Cleo happily joins in with a tipsy rendition of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’. I am brimming with love and compassion for my beautiful child. I will guide her.

There’s much I want to say. If I don’t tell you what having a child with a brain tumour is like, how will you know? I am not going to lay it all out in a blog such as this. I’ve said it before, much should and will remain private within our family. But, since you’re reading this, you have officially now been touched by childhood cancer. If you’re moved by our experiences, whether you know us or not, childhood cancer has already put its nasty, cold little hand on your shoulder.

No it hasn’t,  that’s ridiculous. I actively resist the personification of an organic, mindless organism because I might then waste my time getting angry with it. I’ve no wish for anger. 

The point is, I want to share a little of our life with you so that you know. And then when you reach for wallet/phone/laptop and donate to the Team Cleo Fund (hint hint, ho ho) you have real people in your mind and your heart; real lived experience. You will want to spare others from going through the same heartbreak.

There’ll be more. It helps me to process what’s happening. Steel yourselves for a challenging ride, but do come with us. Help us bear the knowing and the not-knowing.

So sorry

Then…

January 6th, 2019. We’re watching the New Year’s Day episode of ‘Doctor Who’ on catch up. Oscar is snuggled under his TARDIS blanket, playing with one of the rats. I doubt he’s listening to the telly, but then he comments on the action and I remember his claim that he’s ‘really good at multitasking’. I smile to myself. Ella is curled up in the corner;  I see the blue glow of her mobile phone reflected in her face. She’s not much of a DW fan. Tristan softly wriggles and chunters as he lies on my chest, wrapped in a snuggly blanket. Cleo is beside me. She turns on her side and guides my hand to her back, hitching up her top. I know this request well; time for some tickles AKA ‘do the Feels’. She loves a back rub. Cleo keeps chit-chatting over the DW dialogue but no-one minds. We’re just glad she’s back home, safe and enjoying home comforts. The scene is so warm and familiar. Normal.

Is it? Alas, 2019 didn’t quite begin in the quiet fashion we hoped for. Everything kind of looks the same but… it’s not. I wish I could capture this moment and just live it forever.

I don’t know how to play poker but I’m thinking of taking it up. Alex and I are currently doing a very convincing  job of covering up our mutual despair. I feel dissociated from my body, like I’m outside looking in, consciously controlling my movements, my choices of words, my facial expressions. I definitely still function – the children have been fed and watered, as has the menagerie of pets. But I’m not really there. Just a hollowed-out human in automatic mode.

The fat jellyfish is back. I’ve dropped the capitals; the bastard thing doesn’t deserve a proper name.

I can’t adequately express what news of this new development feels like, but it would be too simple to conclude ‘there aren’t words’. I keep fishing around for them, searching for a way.

I feel both numb and wired. Resigned but fighting. Both resilient and crumbling. I wonder whether these binaries are just the component elements of profound, quiet sadness. I’ve no anger, no wish to shout. I’m just desperately sad.

‘We are going to lose her’. It’s easy to stay busy with Tristan around, but if I’m left alone for a moment,  unoccupied, that’s where my mind instantly takes me. I bat the intrusion away but not quickly enough to prevent fear from leaving its indelible trace. Hope? – of course I hope. I hope we’ll have a long, long time with our glorious girl in our lives, shining her light, spreading her rainbows. I hope there’s a relevant, promising clinical trial that she is eligible to take part in. Beyond symptom management, that’s about all we have. No more radiotherapy. No more chemo. Treatment options have fizzled out. We knew they would one day, but this was a cruelly abrupt gear change.

This week we learned about focal seizures. One urgent MRI later and we were having one of ‘those’ conversations with Cleo’s medical team. One where your heart starts to sink as you are led towards a private room. Without Cleo. This is not for her ears.

I start to cry before anything is even said.

“You’re going to tell us something bad” I sob, annoyed at myself for the child-like words which puncture my efforts at dignified control.

“I’m so sorry, Jane. We’re so sorry.”

So sorry.

…Now

January 29th, 2019. Cleo is snuggled on the sofa, dozing. She’s successfully ousted the cat from Cleo Corner. We’ve been in hospital all weekend after another longer seizure and we are all so glad that she is home in peace. She doesn’t remember a thing about the weekend – well, she doesn’t really remember anything at all. She asks “where’s Ella?” and I softly remind her that it’s a school day. A few minutes later, with her sweetly quizzical look: “where’s Ella?”

“She’s at school my sweetheart.”

“Oh yeah” Cleo replies. I’m not convinced she’s understood.

In the absence of any other reasonable treatment options, we enrolled Cleo on a clinical trial. She had her first treatment last week. It isn’t going to cure her and could be seen as a waste of a precious day once a week for however many weeks we have. But, the truth is, we have fun wherever we go and so, while there’s the faintest wisp of a cloud of a chance that she might gain some benefit from being on the trial, we have to try. Turns out we’re not all that altruistic after all when it comes to our child.

I’m not angry, though anyone who wants to be on my behalf is welcome to. A brain tumour is not sentient,  it bears us no malice. Anger won’t help us defeat it, or take care of Cleo, or cope. The human capacity for experiencing complex emotion is so extraordinary; I am able to feel this desperate aching sadness at the same time as love,  gratitude and pure, simple happiness. We don’t have to be angry. It means that the power to write this story, the story of an ending, is in our hands. We can create a positive narrative for Cleo, for her, for us and for the children. Celebrate a most wonderful life. We can do that.

No reflections

NYE 2018 – a time for reflection on Things Past and making eager plans for the coming year. On the latter, I’m exercising significant caution; never again will I allow myself the indulgence of believing I have even half a clue of what a new year might bring. I’m also choosing not to spend too much time on reflection this new year’s eve. It was a year, alright. The right number of days, weeks, months. Mercifully predictable. Other than that, our 2018 could not have been more unstable, more painful, more marvellous. Although part of me just wants to bin the lot of it, I can’t dismiss the whole year. Big events such as the arrival of baby Tristan or buying a house are fantastic things, but I’m thinking more about the importance of preserving the transient moments of joy that live among the awfulness. The tight hugs with no words needed. Sharing krispy kremes with Cleo on the morning of my birthday. Her vigorous dance moves. General daftness and giggles. Friendship, companionship. I don’t want to lose any of that.

Last Christmas looked so different. Though we were doing fine, on Christmas day I was still struggling with missing my dad. The day just felt so disconcertingly strange. Cleo wasn’t wonderfully well even then – I have often wondered if it was just a virus back then or was this the beginning of the fat jellyfish? Pointless musings. This year we refused to let cancer’s presence dictate to us. We successfully buried it under decorating the tree, playing cards and boards games, cracking nuts. We drowned it in ginger wine and mulled cider. Most successfully of all, we fended it off by being tightly surrounded by family, friends and the good wishes of those further away.

Over Christmas, now and again, I’ve enjoyed watching little video clips of the children from years ago, squirrelled away on my private You Tube channel for safekeeping. Autobiographical memories that take on a deeper significance these days. I’ve also caught myself several times taking more short video clips of the children, borne of the desire to preserve. I notice that I train the lens on Cleo more often than I otherwise might have. I talk the family into reluctant selfies, like the pic at the top taken at the pantomime today. I want to keep everything safe somewhere. I don’t want the loveliness of these days to ever be lost.

This festive period has been fully occupied by our sweet-natured baby, moving house and Cleo’s ongoing treatment. It’s not a big step to work out that the eagerness with which I bore all the madness of house-moving might relate to it being a fantastic distraction from the un-bearable. I know I’ll have to process it all sometime. But just because it’s the end of a calendar year doesn’t mean it has to be now. 2018 is, mercifully, ending on a stupendous high. It’s time to enjoy the warm fuzzies of togetherness. So, that’s what I’ll do. HNY, folks, with love. Cheers!  Go milk this life!