Just over four years ago, my mum died following a long illness.
That’s the traditional euphemism for cancer, but she was ill with it for seven years so I’m using it even if it’s a bit old fashioned nowadays.
This, as you might expect, was pretty fucking difficult for me.
It was made even more difficult by some family unpleasantness, which I won’t go into, but which increased my burdens considerably and also made it pretty damn hard for my brother and I to pay for the funeral.
(Mark taking most of the pain there, but I was left in a slightly precarious situation with bills and so forth once the funeral and associated expenses had been dealt with)
I’d been writing about my mum and her illness (and how I was / wasn’t dealing with it) on my Livejournal, and so I naturally wrote about this there, too; and because someone had specifically asked about donations – and because I was overdrawn and dangerously close to serious debt – I set up a PayPal account.
I didn’t exactly feel comfortable about doing it (whenever I’ve seen people do things like this before, I’ve always suspected bullshit), but as I didn’t expect much response – maybe a couple of quid to help keep the wolf from the door – I didn’t worry too much about it.
In actuality, the response was so massive, and so rapid, that I got a phonecall from PayPal – in the US – who wanted to know what the fuck was happening with my brand new account, and had some difficulty believing it was the kindness of a large number people on the internet, most of whom I’d never met.
It wasn’t a gargantuan amount of money in real terms – despite being much more than expected – but it was a huge amount of money in terms of what I was able to do with it, at a time when I desperately needed help.
It proved to be a genuine lifeline when I really wasn’t equipped to sort all the things out that I had to do (i.e. looking after myself rather than my mum) – and it gave me enough breathing space to do this as well as begin to grieve.
I’m not going to name any names, because most of those people donated anonymously – and they all know who they are. I hope they each know how important what they did was.
Anyone who was there at the time (or who followed that link!) will also note that I promised to donate the amount I received to charity once I was in a position to do so. Well, it’s taken a bit longer than I expected, but I’m finally able to do that.
The Christie Cancer Centre (and hospital where my mum received most of her treatment, as well as where she finally passed away) may think they’re thanking me there, but they’re not – they’re thanking all the people who donated money to me when I needed it. The people I knew and the people I didn’t.
I’m thanking those people as well.