The People You Love …

ghostsThe Teenager went to Manchester at the weekend to visit a close relative who is severely ill with Parkinson’s and now living in a nursing home.

I picked him up from the train station yesterday evening and could clearly see the slump in his shoulders, his troubled face.

On the drive home, we chatted about this and that but he was mostly occupied with his phone and glugging back the drink I had brought with me.

Until, ‘Mum? Can I ask you something?’

‘Of course!’

‘Will, um, do you think, well, you could ever get like that? You know, with MS?’

I took a deep breath. ‘I really don’t think so, sweets. Look at the treatment I’ve had! It was hard this weekend?’

‘Uh huh. It was really nice to see him, but really sad. I’m scared you’ll be like that when I’m older.’

‘C’mon kiddo, you know how tough I am. Tough as a toffee!’

‘So was he.’

‘Oh, I know sweets. A really strong person and what happened to him is just awful. But he’s been ill a really long time.’

‘I’d look after you, you know.’

‘That’s so lovely of you, thank you. But you know what the most important thing is? That you get on with your life. Everything is opening up for you. I’m doing just fine, sweets. I’m working, I’ve got Uni, everything’s great. You know I don’t need to ask you for help with anything. I like looking after you.’

‘Yeah, I know, but sometimes I wish you would ask me. I feel really helpless when you’re tired or your legs are sore. I’d like to make you a cup of coffee or a glass of squash. Or something.’

My heart broke into a thousand pieces.

‘Ok, let’s make a deal. Next time I’m really, really tired and have to go to sleep in the afternoon, you can wake me up after an hour with a cup of coffee? That would help me a lot.’


After growing up with ill parents, I’ve always been determined never to turn my son into some sort of carer. The thought horrifies me. But have I gone too far the other way? Am I somehow blocking him out?

And not only this fear, but also a dear friend of his, one of his close group of friends from school, passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 17. The Teenager is struggling with appalling grief from both ends of the spectrum, at the beginning of life, and towards the end.

It is even more vital now, that I support him. But how best to do this when his thoughts are clouded by my MS?

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24 thoughts on “The People You Love …

  1. incognito says:

    I don’t really know what to write but I wanted to leave you a reply. That post just touched my heart, you sounded so worried about The Teenager and yourself. From here, it sounds like you’re doing such a great job, both with him and for yourself, and I love reading your blog.
    See, ineffectual words, so you may as well have an ineffectual hug too. You’re doing a great job!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much, it means the world to us.
      He’s getting ready to attend a special assembly at school. Luckily I have the day off work after an MRI early this morning so have had the chance to chat with him a little more. He’s been showing me photos of him and his friend and talking about his feelings.
      A strange time and I’m heartbroken for his parents.

  2. David says:

    I know how valuable a good support can be. I also know how much it can weigh on a persons conscience. It’s one of those things that we will need looking after at some point and so having someone say they want to take that load on is great so bravo the teenager!
    Nothing worse than living in the dark and then realising those close to us are suffering in silence. I constantly have to tell my partner and family that just because I’m ill it doesn’t mean that they can’t be. They never wanna tell me they are struggling with something but don’t wanna tell me as “you’re dealing with what you’ve got and my problems cannot be as bad as yours so I don’t wanna moan!”. My advice would be to let him in. Maybe don’t tell him about every twinge that comes up, not enough hours in the day lol, but the things that really stop you in your tracks I think would help him. That way it won’t be a total surprise if things were to go downhill somewhat. I really hope it doesn’t come to that though! Take care x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much – true words of wisdom! I think you are absolutely right – there’s a time where I should really let him know some things rather than soldiering on and leaving him bewildered.

  3. David says:

    I loved reading this, I think you are doing very well with the teenager, and I’m sure that he could google anything about MS if he so wanted to.
    It’s hard enough for us adults going through emotional turmoil let alone youngsters, from your posts he sounds a very intelligent young man.
    Don’t worry and don’t be afraid to ask him for help.

  4. Judy Epstein says:

    I love your writing. Today’s really touched my heart… I’m sending cyberhugs to you both.
    Be well

  5. toni says:

    Tough one, even for a tough toffee!. It will be hard, but I guess you talk to him, and agree to put MS tucked away in the corner – just for the time being. Besides, I have a funny feeling MS wont like to be tucked away for too long!. :). But, whilst it is tucked up, all comfy and cozy, the teenager and yourself could then fight through the grieving process together? The teenager could always talk to the parents of his friend if he feels comfortable? They will probably find comfort in each other. The delicate issue of the illness of said relative? It seems as though it may just have to be baby steps for each heartbreaking topic at the moment. As adults, well, its not any easier, but we sort of get it, dont we?. We’ve had loved ones pass, and myself and my partner are going through the same with a relative with Parkinson’s, and the husband of said relative is suffering with Alzheimer’s. But, we get it. Its horrible and heartbreaking, but we what can we do?. As a teenager, well, its just so unreal and unfair, and yep, I guess, for us adults also. I dont know if I am helping much, but, I literally feel all your pain. You sound as if you are a great Mum, doing your best and more. I dont want to come across as if I know all the answers, just trying to help. Keep doing what you are doing, and re-assure him, and be honest as best as you find comfortable with him ..Lots of healing vibes to you all.x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Such a lovely comment, thank you so much!
      I guess for adults, what The Teenager is going through would be pretty tough. As well as all the usual stresses and strains of being a teenager.
      I think him and his friends will be going to the funeral and I hope that will help them all a little, his parents especially. I just cannot begin to even imagine what they are going through right now.
      The charity donation page set up in his memory has surpassed the target by almost 50%, raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is fantastic news.

  6. It’s sometimes hard to recognise the difference though so good luck ?
    I know for me I just don’t want to be constantly moaning brings them and me down. Sometimes it is appropriate though and is good to get it off your chest. Take care x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      It really is, and I really don’t want to burden him with what’s going on with me and MS.
      It’s so tricky to strike the absolutely best balance.

  7. Kirsty says:

    You should be (and I know you are) so proud of your boy. He’s going through a rough time with thoughts and emotions. He has spoken to you about his thoughts and I agree that letting him in a bit is a good idea. He’s growing into a fine young man and he can deal with things with your support.
    Sounds like things have all happened at once, which we all know normally does. Both of you stay strong. Sending love and hugs. Xx

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much! I really am; considering everything he’s been through these last few years, he’s doing amazingly well!
      As for letting him in – bit by bit 🙂 We’ll get there!

  8. Karen Schlotter says:

    My Dearest Stumbling,

    The sad fact is that your son’s vision will always be “clouded by your MS”. It’s part of this horrible disease, it touches everyone in its’ reach. What you can do, and what it seems like you’ve been doing, is be his Mom, love him like you do, and be as present as you can. By reading your blog you seem to be doing this every single day.

    He has been exposed to great sadness at a young age, but he’s also been exposed to great strength and determination. He’s watching his Mom, who’s a great example of both.

    I truly enjoy your blog and continue to be inspired. Wishing you all the best.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      What a lovely, kind comment, thank you so much!
      It’s a great way to look at things – that through the sadness in his life, he will find strength and determination and I really think that’s true in his case.

  9. Annie says:

    Aw bless him. He sounds like a really good kid. But I know what you mean. I definitely hold back from my teenage girls if I’m feeling bad …. don’t want them to be worried. But I think they are all stronger than we think. You guys take care xx

    • stumbling in flats says:

      It’s really hard to find and strike the right balance, isn’t it? You don’t want to burden them, but you don’t want to exclude them.
      Not easy.

  10. Kerri says:

    What tender and teachable moments you are sharing. No person can adequately explain pain, suffering and death without addressing spiritual issues. There is a loving God and there is an enemy, and it’s crucial not to get the two confused. Hope you and God use this time to further shape the man The Teenager is becoming. Be real enough to have an honest relationship and strengthen the bond you have without crippling his life goals As a mother of grown sons, I encourage you to use whatever opportunities you have to talk about the kind of woman he will marry one day because in many lasting marriages, one partner ends up caring for the other and/or their parents. May God use this sad time to bless you in some good way.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so very much for your kind words, I really do appreciate them.
      I’d like think he’ll be with a woman as fabulous as he is! We’ve actually spoken about this a few times and I think he’s on the ‘right’ track.
      I think in some ways, because of MS, we’ve been able to have more honest and open conversations than perhaps we would otherwise. I treasure these moments. I try to be ‘there’ for him and let him come to me, with very subtle nudging. So far, so good …

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