Almost two weeks ago, on Sunday 20 May, my eldest sister Mandi went out for a jog. She didn’t come home. She collapsed by the side of the road, and was taken to hospital. She was pronounced dead from a heart attack on arrival.
I was woken up with this news on Monday at about 3am, as my dad was on his way back from the hospital with my brother-in-law, Andy, to wait for Mandi and Andy’s two sons (3yo and 5yo) to wake up so they could somehow break the news to them. I went down to see them that day, and stayed until yesterday to help arrange the funeral and help Andy look after the boys.
Today I woke up in my own bed, 200 miles from the rest of my family, and the last two weeks feels like a bad dream. There’s been so much to do, and we’ve all been so focused on supporting Andy and the boys, that I don’t think I’ve really processed the fact that I’ve lost my sister. It just isn’t real: it can’t be. Mandi was nearly a teenager when I and my other two sisters were born, so our whole lives she’s been a combination of big sister, third parent, and best friend. How can she be dead?
Some of you already knew this, and have sent wonderful messages of support. I want to thank everyone who’s been in touch, and apologise for not replying – I just haven’t had the headspace.
The last couple of weeks have been incredibly difficult, but I know that in some ways they were the easy part. When someone first dies there is so much to do: it gives you plenty to keep occupied with. Now I don’t have all that to keep busy, and I’m so far away from the rest of my family, this is going to get much harder. Right now I just feel numb, but sooner or later this loss is going to hit me. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do then.
If anyone is moved by this and wants to do anything to help, there is a wonderful local charity called Winston’s Wish that provides support for bereaved children. They have been enormously helpful in the past few weeks with helping us all to work out how on earth we explain to those two boys what’s happened to their mum, and how we can be there for them and make sure they know they are loved, and safe, and supported. For the funeral we asked that, instead of floral tributes, people make donations to Winston’s Wish in memory of Mandi Jones. I’m sure any further donations would be gratefully received.
I suspect this blog is going to be a bit quiet for a while, as I try to work out what reality is again. Also, apologies in advance if I am slow to reply to comments and messages. I feel absolutely exhausted at the moment, and writing this has taken the last of the energy I had.
Update 7 June 2012:
I mentioned above the charity Winston’s Wish, that has provided our family with invaluable support and advice in recent weeks. I recently found out that they do an annual sponsored 10-mile walk to fundraise, so I will be taking part in this in September. If anyone would like to sponsor me, the easiest way to do so is via my JustGiving page. Many thanks to all those kind people who have already done so.