The chapel was filled with the deafening silence of the families, friends and colleagues from what would have been their wedding guests list.. This black,cruel hand of poker played by the Universe was loaded against them from the start. They did not have a chance in hell! But how could they have known? We take the natural order of things in this world for granted. We expect to have healthy children, we expect to watch them grow up and to for them to have full and fruitful lives and we certainly do not expect our children to die before we do!
Abbi was laying in the cold, pink, silk cladded white coffin… and everybody was totally broken with grief. How could faith have been so unkind to this beautiful, kind ,generous and loving couple? Life had promised them so much…They had endless possibilities but it had delivered them into the precipice of hell!! Richard was totally dead inside and he could not hear anything and he did not even register the presents of the 250 people who crammed into the tiny ,sterile chapel at the cemetery to pay their respects to an exceptional human being who had been taken away from this world far too soon. He was just an empty vessel now and his mind,body and soul was with Abbi. He could not imagine life without her kind, encouraging eyes and her magical smile which always made him feel like he was the only person in the world.
They were childhood sweethearts and they attended the same school, they had the same friends and they like the same things. They were opposite sides of the same coin. They were totally devoted to each other and she was his life… She was all he ever wanted and she was his everything. His heart was broken in millions of little pieces that could not ever be put together again..He was crying but no tears was running down his cheeks.!
The humanist representative was reading from the sheet that Abbi’s mother had given her but Richard did not hear a word.
“Abbigail Alexandra Walker came into this world on February 12,1987 and departed from us on January 17, 2015. She is mourned by her parents Jean and Peter, fiance Richard and all her family ,friends and colleagues…………” Everybody was in floods of tears. Abbi’s mum and dad could not be comforted and they were not even able to stand unaided. She was all they had and she was their life and the most beautiful , kind and loving daughter any parent could have ever hope to be blessed with. Parents are not suppose to bury their children! Why did this happen to their little ray of sunshine? They did not believe in the father , the son and the holy ghost but they thought that they had really been blessed with Abbi. She was perfect in every way. Peter had never prayed in his life and he did not know how but today he looked up to the heavens and asked two questions.
- What wicked act did I commit in my past life why me and my girls should be punished like this?
- Why did’nt you take me instead?
Eleven months ago almost to the day, Abbi and Richard were the envy of all their friends. They were the golden couple because they had it all…great jobs,lots of friends,love, beauty and most of all the success that everybody wanted. Richard was an investment banker earning a six figure salary and Abbi was a very successful television presenter. A couple months earlier, Richard had proposed to Abbi and they decided that they would get married and start a family very soon afterwards. With this in mind, they started to plan their wedding. They also made the decision to take some time out to travel before they finally settled down.
Since Abbi was an only child, she was very close to her parents and so she would speak to them at least two or three times weekly and visit once or twice per month. They absolutely adored Richard and they treated him like a son. However, when Peter called last February to say the results of the mammogram had confirmed their worst fears, they were devastated. Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer and she needed to have chemotherapy straight away to shrink the tumour. Abbi and Richard knew they had to cancel their travel plans and put their wedding plans on hold. Although her father was a neurologist and was accustomed to dealing with patients, this was different. He would need their support both physically and emotionally. Her mother was really the strong one and her father would not be able to cope.
Peter was very happy that Richard and Abbi had cancelled their travel plans because he needed the calm strength that Abbi always display. Sometimes, she was like the parent and they were the children! The hilarity of the role reversal was really comical at times. Since Abbi was always so optimistic, Jean made a conscious effort to be positive because she did not want to worry her unnecessarily. However, the first cycle of chemotherapy left her feeling drained and really unwell. The steroids tablets they had given her to boost her energy levels did not seem to work quick enough because she could hardly get out of bed. She really wanted to put on a brave face because she did not want Abbi to realise how worried she was. Her prognosis was not great but she had not revealed this to Abbi.
Jean, like Abbi, had the most beautiful,bouncy, blonde hair and she was absolutely petrified of loosing all her hair and so she opted to have the cold cap treatment although the results were not guaranteed. Saving her hair would just be a little bit of light along the treacherous journey of darkness. The next 6-9 months would be absolute hell on earth!
As Jean was a registrar at the local hospital,she knew what to expect and she had decided to have her treatment in the hospital where she worked. She felt that if she had friends and colleagues around her, it would aid her recovery. Peter and Abbi wanted her to go to one of the London teaching hospitals like the Royal Marsden where they had cutting edge research and amazing clinicians too.However, she would not changed her mind and so they had to go along with her decision.
Abbi was advised to have a mammogram and some other tests because it was discovered that her mother had the BRCA1/2 gene mutations. As far as they were concerned, this was just the protocol… Three weeks after that dreadful phone call which turned their world inside out and upside down, the family was dealt another blow! Abbi’s results came back positive for BRCA1/2 gene mutation and she also had breast cancer….
Richard’s parents, siblings, Jean, Peter and all their friends and family were devastated to have more bad news. How unlucky can one family be? Abbi was only 28 years old and although Jean had just finished her first cycle of chemotherapy she was more worried about her daughter. She also knew that the younger you are … the more aggressive the cancer will be. Peter and Jean felt that their entire world was crumbling and they could not do anything to change the outcome. They were totally powerless! The news sent shockwaves through their whole community of friends and family.
However, Abbi took the news of her diagnosis in her usual pragmatic and philosophical manner. She decided to have chemotherapy with her mother because they could support each other. Each cycle was worse than the one before and when Jean’s hair began to fall out, Abbi knew it was only a matter of time before she would have the same experience. Richard and Peter would sit in the waiting room while the girls had their chemotherapy.. Jean and Abbi were getting progressively weaker with each cycle.
Nevertheless, although Abbi was really struggling, she was always the eternal optimist. She never complained about the pain, the discomfort the nausea or her hair falling out. She just shaved off her hair and told her friends that she was starting a new trend! When Jean had her final treatment, Abbi knew that she only had one to go and then she could start planning her life again. She was filled with excitement just thinking about her marriage to Richard. She could not wait for the next cycle of of Chemotherapy.
The end of the Chemotherapy was followed by 25 session of radiotherapy for both mother and daughter. But for Abbi, something changed once she started the this part of the treatment. She became weaker with each week that passed but she never complained. She would try to smile and joke with friends and family who visited her at home. After all, it was the final bit of treatment before she had her mastectomy and reconstruction. Her friends were telling her to have a DD cup!
AT the end of radiotherapy treatment, her girlfriends organised a girly spa weekend to celebrate. She was a bit fragile but she did no want to disappoint them and so she made the effort to go. Richard could see the change in her and he was really getting worried. He wanted to cheer her up and thought that a total change of environment may also be good for her. Paris was her favourite city and so he booked a romantic week away to pamper and celebrate the end of her treatment.
Christmas came and both families celebrated together and Richard and Abbi began to look forward and started to organise the list for their wedding. They both came to the realisation that when you are faced with your own mortality, your priorities change. Now all he wants is to love and care for her. He gazed across the room at her fragile, slender frame and thought,
“I love you so much- I want to spend the rest of my life just loving you. I cannot wait to call you my wife.” He smiled at her tenderly and she smiled back at him and stretched out her small,beautifully manicured hand to touch his gently. He closed his eyes and fast forwarded their lives four years and imagined their little family. She came over to him and kissed his lips and he opened his eyes and pulled her close to him.
Two weeks later, Abbi was rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulties. She developed a chest infection and could not seem to get rid of it. Each day, she got weaker and nothing was helping her.. She was still trying to smile and trying to calm her mum and dad down. However, on day five, they all realised that the spark had disappeared and something was dreadfully wrong.
Abbi told her mother-in-law to take care of Richard for her. She knew then , that she was not going to be around for much longer. At the end of day five, Abbi slipped away peacefully to join the angels. A few months after Abbi’s death, Richard’s youngest sister who was Abbi’s best friend gave him a letter from Abbi. She told Sarah to give him the letter when the time was right…
Richard could not believe his eyes… he did not know what to do. He had not slept for months because he could not sleep without her. He did not want to live this life anymore. His parents,Abbi’s parents, all his siblings and all their friends were very worried about him. They could not deal with another tragedy. However, Abbi had anticipated this! She knew that Richard would press the self destruct button if she did not intervene.
Letter from Abbi:
Darling, our love was pure, our love was beautiful,our love was my life. Our love was magical, our love was the reason for my existence, our love was truly eternal. Darling, you made me the happiest woman in the world and for that I am truly thankful and although our forever was shorter than anticipated, it is the one I would want again and again.
Darling, you know more than anyone how much I love life! Please do not give up on life because you would be giving up on me. You would be giving up on all our hopes and dreams! Darling, please live for me and I will live through you.
Love is eternal, you must love again for us my love. Have that perfect family we always dream of and do not let the dream die with me. I will be watching over you and as always I remain your number one fan on the touch line! I wish I had more time my darling but until death do us part has come too soon…….
Now , I will go happily because you have made our 14 blissful years , the happiest and most magical any girl could have ever hoped for. Thank you for loving me so completely- Now ,you must live- This is the last bit of sensible advice you you are going to get from me! Life is for living, it is not a rehearsal! Love completely,laugh lots,have fun, be kind and we will meet again not too soon.
NB You know how I hate sad faces!!!Dry the tears and celebrate. Have a glass of champagne for me!