Yesterday morning Fran and I said a ceremonial goodbye to the toothbrush she keeps at the castle. It was the only red one in the pot of 8 brushes, mine and one for each of my regular night-time support workers. I’d pestered Fran into getting a red one to brighten up all the other green and blue ones.
Fran binned her brush because it was the last time she’ll be providing regular support for me. For almost two years she’s helped me twice a week, once during the day at work as my Access To Work support worker and once overnight at the castle. She’s leaving so she’ll have more time to write her medical anthropology MA dissertation.
Fran and I have shared both lovely and difficult moments. Over the last two years we’ve done all sorts of things together – mundane and exceptional. We’ve danced, sworn at hailstones, endured training courses and watched a lot of murder mysteries. I’ll miss our days and evenings together but I don’t feel too sad because we’ll still see each other regularly and hang out as friends.
Saying goodbye to Fran got me thinking about the amazing friendships that have evolved around my support needs. I sometimes feel frustrated that I can’t spend more time on my own but I also realise how lucky I am to be able to get to know such lovely people.
I didn’t really know Fran, Bunny, Zoë or Will very well before they started supporting me, but I now consider them close friends. Providing sensitive support for someone is a skilled job and it’s not always easy. The degree of help I need and the frustration I sometimes feel can put pressure on these relationships. As my needs change I’ve had to learn how to live and work with constant help from other people.
The help I’ve received has hugely enriched my life and it isn’t just because it’s allowed me to carry on working and enjoy a good quality of life. Just as much, it’s because of the personalities, humour and friendship of the individuals who accompany me on the journey.
I wish Fran lots of luck and love, and look forward to more good times with her in the future. I’m also looking forward to getting to know new support workers and sharing times of challenge, triumph and friendship yet to come.
I’m even optimistic that I can persuade Olive, my new Wednesday night support worker, to get a brightly coloured toothbrush for the pot.