Anyway, talk soon turned to the funeral of a neighbour yesterday, which my friend had attended. I had only met J twice before she became ill and very soon, I was hearing about her being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which progressed quite rapidly, leading her to be bedridden within about a year. At the time I had first met her, she was travelling to Cambridge regularly as her husband, S, had been operated on for a brain tumour. This was followed by kidney failure and an unsuccessful kidney transplant, which means that he is now undergoing dialysis three times a week so for J also be seriously ill was definitely more than they needed.
J was nursed at home by a team of carers, including Macmillan nurses, and then nine months ago, she was given a place in our excellent local hospice, where she continued to receive wonderful care until her death on February 5th.
My friend told me a little about the funeral, how the church was packed with family and friends, including staff from the hospice, and about the bravery of J's daughter, who spoke at length about what a wonderful person her mother was. It seems that J had not had the easiest of lives, having been adopted at the age of eight, whilst her brother had been adopted elsewhere, so they had lost contact until she managed to find him only very recently.
So it was a sad conversation, but not entirely. During J's illness, her friends had constantly made sure that they visited regularly, using technology and sign language to communicate when she was no longer able to speak. They organised trips out for her and 'girls' nights in' and makeovers, which continued even when she moved into the hospice so, as well as the inevitable suffering with the progression of the disease, the last couple of years of her life were also filled with laughter, friendship and love and that has to be a good ending.