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Looking at Things Differently

4 June 2024
Picture of a sunrise or sunset, sea and beach

My wonderful friend, who I met over 10 years ago when I enrolled in an NCT class, very sadly, died recently.  I joined the NCT course desperate to prepare myself for the terrifying prospect of impending childbirth whilst also keen to be as ‘natural’ as possible (ignorant to the REAL reason that most people join NCT, which was succinctly expressed by one of our lovely group in session 1’s first break, “we’re just here for each other’s phone numbers right?”) Our respective realities of childbirth soon made me realise how outrageous society’s insistence that women, when going through some of the most physically traumatic experiences of our lives, should pretend that modern healthcare doesn’t exist …. but anyway, I got those phone numbers, and made some important friends for life.

Kerry had been battling Acute Myeloid Leukaemia for 18 months when finally some kind of virus or bacteria took hold and took her from us.

The magical ‘nibs’ drugs worked wonders for a time, but the cruel genetic mutation hellbent on claiming our beloved friend, was just too fiercely determined. (As an aside, this episode from Cardiff Business School friend Jamie Hayes and co of the fabulous Aural Apothecary podcast explains the discovery of the first ‘nib’. Listen from 35:30 for a simply amazing story told by the eloquent Professor Neal Maskrey).

As miraculous a collection of drugs as the ‘nibs’ are, the mutation returned.

A bone marrow transplant from a brilliant, selfless, woman in Germany brought our Kerry back to us for a while, rosy cheeks and Prosecco meet ups resumed, but then, three months later, the absolute git reared his horrendous face again.

Kerry was a truly beautiful person, exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful, wise, and she had an immense passion for social justice coursing through her veins. Something she dedicated her research to at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies at Cardiff University (I’ve just checked, her Media representations of black young men and boys report is STILL in the top ten of Cardiff University downloads – it’s been there for years! How delighted she was when I told her she was number 1!)  She was helpful, enthusiastic and kind, even helping me with a blog about the Pomodoro writing technique. I recorded our interview as part of the piece and I’m now so pleased to have this miniscule time capsule of her where you can all see how clever and considerate she was.  I look at this video now when I feel the need to see her smiley face.

Best of all, she was the most wonderful mother. Never someone to say to their child on the train back from London after the traumas of visiting Wembley’s “Bubble Planet” “Err play on your iPad will you and give Mummy a break (whilst I listen to Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department AGAIN)” as I did recently 🫤.

I know she wouldn’t have. She would have played with her son and shown him things out of the window, sharing with him all the things she knew and loved.

She would regularly post pictures on Facebook of the homemade pizza faces that she would cook for him – asparagus eyebrows, red pepper cheeks, carrot noses.  The faces were funny, wildly different every time AND full of vegetables.  They were posted with absolutely zero intention of showing off her immense mumskills, more just as a little snapshot into their lives, how happy she was, and how much she loved being a mum.

I commented on a few and, as Facebook does, it seeks my interaction by showing me memories of these pizza face exchanges. And I absolutely love seeing them. I had no idea about how powerful Facebook could be as a wonderful reminder of the people who you have loved and lost.  I had no appreciation of one important element of its value until I had a need for it.

So, whilst I’ve been desperately sad about how she’s not here anymore and I wanted to tell as many people as I could about how lovely she was, I did also have a small ‘business’ point about how sneaky, changeable and unknown value can be.  I had stopped bothering with Facebook really, but seeing how much I value seeing my little chats with Kerry, my little chats with my Uncle John (CANCER IS THE WORST), I’ve suddenly appreciated how valuable its role as a recordkeeper of ‘beautiful small details of important people’s lives’ is. So I’ve started posting again.

Conversely, I used to be furious at Cardiff University’s webpages that were full of the profiles of people who had left to work for someone else 3 years ago and yes, of people who had died.  When trawling through our pages to check how they look from an “External Engagement” perspective I’d think “argh how are THEY still up there?! *sends email to the webteam to remove*” so when a new system was introduced which linked Staff web profiles to our Core HR system, I did a little ‘lean win wiggle’ “YES! They leave the organisation, they leave our webpages automatically! Genius!” How cold and clinical that way of thinking was. How my heart hurt when I googled ‘Dr Kerry Moore’ to find her Cardiff University staff webpage so I could remind myself of her achievements, to find that it had automatically been removed, just days after her death. I thought of efficiency before value.

I had no appreciation of how important digital memories were until I needed them.

Value can change at the drop of a hat and we need to keep all of our senses and feelings open and at their most empathetic, to truly understand it.

That’s the only business point I had to share really.

I mostly just wanted to say that I miss my friend terribly.