on Sunday Jacqui turned up. Its always a joy to see her face AND she had bought me two delicious pieces of jewellery which I love.
This young woman came into my life sometime in November 2006. My husband was having radio therapy after being diagnosed with cancer in the spring and after some very severe chemotherapy which hadn’t cleaned out the tumor. This whole period had left us both drained, in total shock and completely lost like thousands of others who have been through the experience or are now just starting the journey that is hell on earth. Through one of those throw away remarks I’d been put in touch with an advisor who dealt with benefits. I really had no idea what it was all about but nothing really mattered very much except my darling husband and me being strong and trying to cope with everything. The new language that accompanies serious illness is frightening and most of the time you really don’t know what people are talking about. ‘Well, just question’, I hear you say. But what questions? All you hear is cancer and its a rare one and its in his brain. Where do you start? You just trust the experts know the language and will do their best. But for them its routine. For the punters however its like being shoved inside a tumble drier and thrown round and round never really understanding anything that relates to the life they understand. That is their previous life.
So here we are Colin and I clinging to each other after months of treatment. Grateful that we could still be together. And in comes Jacqui.
Jacqui was part of the Macmillan Benefit team or something like that. She was neat quite small with short flicky hair and a real smiley face. A funky dresser. I liked her style. I recognized or felt a breath of fresh air. But she was carrying a huge brief case so she was official.
From that initial meeting which was memorable because I understood the questions and she seemed quite satisfied with the answers we slowly became friends. Everything she said she would do, with no fuss and no bother to us. I could actually talk to her about what was happening to Colin and my role in this drama. The word carer was now applied to me and Jacqui helped me understand what that really meant. All day everyday forever into the unknown future. Jacqui was always there either on the end of a demented ‘e’ mail from me or a delightful visit from her.
By March 2007 our hospital visits had finished and a new dilemma loomed. Our business was failing seriously and bankruptcy was facing us. I was overwhelmed with paperwork, with caring for Colin and a very frightening future. And here is where Jacqui for all her neat frame, stood very tall and strong and just calmly held my hand and said ‘You can do it, there is a way through”.
And she was absolutely right we hung in their and by January 2008 we had cleared the debts, sold the business and kept our home. The part Jacqui played in all this was monumental. When I was struggling she would come over and we’d go over the problems and find a solution, She would take on certain difficult areas so we never got clogged up. All the time being thoughtful, sensitive and kind and every now and then we even found time to laugh. Jacqui was/is always smiley but never sentimental, always positive but never strident, always thoughtful but never judgmental, always caring but never controlling.
Last year February 23 2012 my beloved Colin died. He was at home and my son and I had be able to care for him ourselves which was exhausting but incredibly rewarding. Through all the years between 2008 and his death Jacqui was a very welcome visitor, helping me keep an open mind on life and its vagaries. I would have lost my way so many, many times without knowing Jacqui was there to gently nudge me onwards.
And now it is Just Me floundering around in my little world. But Colin left me very upright, full of his love and strength. My walls are covered in his fabulous artwork and there is much for me to achieve through the inspiration of his work. So I am lucky. AND I have come to know and care deeply for Jacqui who has so many qualities and abilities that she shared so generously with Colin and I. I know we are not the only ones touched by her caring work but I feel very grateful that I can now count her as a real friend.
Jacqui picked me up and dusted me down so many times I now know what that big brief case really held – her instinct, her heart ,her humour plus a lot of intelligence used positively. She is person to cherish and I do.