I was 4, maybe 5 at the time. I squeezed myself into the trolley chair that was far too small, and no matter how much the metal bars bit into my skin, I was determined to stay. I loved to watch her face change and move as she wheeled me around the store.
She arrived every Friday night like clockwork; I remember standing in the window of our tiny living room watching her van pull up. I almost jumped up and down waiting for her get out. Sometimes Terry was with her, sometimes he wasn’t. She baked with me, Marble Cake was always my favourite. I loved to watch her draw, and so she copied all my Disney VHS boxes, unfortunately I have lost them all since and wish I had taken better care of them, knowing now how much I would love to look at them again.
And so she left like clockwork, every Sunday night. I cried uncontrollably hoping it would make her stay longer.
By this time I was around 7 years old so I wasn’t aware straight away that she was poorly. Only that I was supposed to be more careful than usual. But soon her hair fell out, and she started to smell unlike how she normally did, She seemed to be less fun, and then she began to stay less and less. It was explained to me by various people that she had something called cancer.
For a short time after that she seemed normal again, she seemed happy and bright and things seemed to be good. But then eventually she stopped coming at all, although we did go up to Scotland to see her once or twice, but it wasn’t the same. Of course, I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but I knew something wasn’t right. Now I am older I know that my beautiful, colourful Auntie Janis had secondary metastatic cancer, and her days where numbered.
This was never said to me, but something in a child’s heart knows when someone they love is about to leave them.
I walked in the door after my other auntie picking me up from school, which was relatively normal as she was around most of the time. My mum was leaning on the dinning room table, puffy eyed. Something in them was cold for a moment, numb and wanting… and then I knew. Janis would not be ok, as everyone had previously explained.
I loved her so much, and I was angry at her for leaving and at the heinous disease that took her away. But I cannot be angry with her anymore. She lives in my battle, and tells me every day
“Don’t you dare think like that… You’re not me!” and so I listen, to her wonderful voice, that thick Glaswegian accent that I crave and miss so significantly.