“Bye-bye, dear, bye-bye”

Two weeks ago, the day after my auntie had been admitted to hospital with failing health due to metastatic breast cancer, I visited her with my parents and my brother.

We were pleased to find her sitting up in a chair next to her bed. Her eyes sparkled and she found the energy to laugh, smile and talk.

Following my breast cancer diagnosis, my auntie and I got to know each other in a different and new way, we developed a depth of relationship we didn’t have before, a new understanding. We didn’t see each other very often but when we did there was something special there. She thanked me for helping her talk and think about things she’d been too scared to talk and think about before. When she was first diagnosed (de novo metastatic breast cancer), her specialist nurse talked about palliative care at the hospice which had scared her, it was only when I chatted with her about the support she could have that she realised that palliative care is about living.

In hospital she talked about her children and grandchildren and about their plans for the future. A future without her.

When the time came to leave and I went to say my goodbyes my auntie looked up at me and held my gaze. There was no need to say that we probably wouldn’t see each other again.

“Now look after yourself ” she said.

“I’ll try” I replied

“Good. Love you”

“Love you. Thank you for everything and God bless you”

“And you dear, and you”.

We kissed before I turned and started to walk out. I glanced back and she smiled.

“Bye-bye, dear, bye-bye …”