I am sitting in peace and quiet for the first time in a very long time. This past weekend was full of wonderful people and lots of noise on Ben Nevis for our fourth Family Challenge weekend. Well, I did steal some quiet solitary moments, but not many. Today I need to just sit still, not just because my legs are aching but also because I need to take time to just think about Oscar.

It hit me this morning that not only is today eight years since Oscar died, it is also the third time I am sitting here on the anniversary of his death without Ian. Last year doesn’t really count, though, because I was lying in bed next to Milo who was slowly dying at the time. Death isn’t instant when it comes to brain tumours – it is slow and painful on so many levels for all involved. And loving my boys and Ian will forever be wonderful and painful. I laugh one minute at the memories and the next I cry – over the same memories. And I sit here and think about all the memories we didn’t get to create. Oscar, no doubt, would have achieved so much already.  He really was the glue that bound he and his brothers together and without him we are all perhaps so very differently bonded together than we would have otherwise been, both good and bad.

I wonder how much a body can take and how much a mind can take and how truly interlinked the two are. Walking up the mountain and at the tough points with Oscar’s “give it all you’ve got cause you’ve really got a lot, give it heart, give it mind, give it soul, don’t stop!” on repeat in my mind, I came a little closer to his determination and ability to conquer anything thrown at him. His mindset was all winning and all determining in how he got through the last year of his life and also in how he died at the end. The last few days before Oscar died I remember as a relentless passing of gruelling seconds and minutes I just wanted to put on pause knowing if time kept passing it would come to a stop much too early for Oscar. 

He had so much more to give this world, and his brothers and I try to keep that going for him. We have him with us in everything we do and emotionally that is both wonderful but may also sometimes be a burden, for his brothers at least. The expectations from me are perhaps not always fair. As an example, Lucas was so excited to walk up Ben Nevis – until we actually got high on the mountain and things got tough. At that point when you just need a moment to gather yourself and complain that your legs are hurting, hearing your mum tell you that hurting legs mean you are alive so keep walking may not at all be appropriate. You’d think I would know better.  But we did need to keep walking, and pain does mean at least you are still alive and also, I am not a perfect mother and I was tired, too. Of course Lucas kept walking and found his beautiful smile  again, but no doubt in some years to come there may be some repercussions from my ‘get on with it’ approach to life that creeps in. 

The truth is, it’s the only way I know how to continue. My body and mind are intertwined to a point where I sometimes don’t know when pain starts or stops – it feels rather irrelevant though as it doesn’t change anything. What I cannot control I must leave behind or live with. But what I can control, I guess I feel I must. Like making sure I do what I can for the memories of Oscar, Milo and Ian, making sure we do what we can for other children and families, making sure Seb and Lucas are living a good life, making sure we’re all working hard, staying true to how I feel and what I want – now these are things I can maybe not fully control but certainly things I can give my best try and have a shot at. 

Today I can’t walk for the pain, but tomorrow I will go for a run. No point telling my boys to keep going if I don’t show them that that’s what we do. And I will put on one of Oscar’s favourite songs Ian always played to him in the car on the way to his matches – Thunderstruck. Now that should get me going!