I am a flower, I am a tree, I am the sun.

The one no one wanted to write….

Hello, Emma here. Abigail’s big sister. If you’ve been following Abigail’s blog for some time then thank you. We hope it’s brought you insight, comfort and inspiration. We know it’s bought tears but Abigail’s brilliant writing and refusal to be downbeat also meant it brought smiles and even laughter.

We as a family could not be prouder of Abigail for everything she achieved with her awe inspiring writing. However, you’ll also know it was never going to be a blog with a happy ending.

Abigail sadly passed away on October 15th 2020 aged just 47.

A short time afterwards my dad said we should write one final blog. In September Abigail gave me her passwords and showed me how to use wordpress. She needed help to put together her final blog. I also hope it was also her way of giving me permission to do just this.

I wanted the chance to let you know what happened after she last wrote, and also to reflect on her life. At the end you’ll find the words I wrote for the Eulogy at her funeral. You’ll also finds words written by her ‘best girls’ (as she referred to them) – Belinda and Vicki. You’ll also find a brilliant poem written by my dad, in the week after she died. Abigail always used to like naming her blogs after a favourite song of hers. This time I’ve gone with the opening line to my dads poem:  ‘I am a flower, I am a tree, I am the sun.’  Which incidentally HAS been made into a song by my talented cousin Chris and his wife Annabelle.

You can hear that here…

I am a flower, I am a tree, I am the sun – By Chris and Annabelle South.

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WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE LAST BLOG

It’s incredible to think that between the last blog being published and her passing there was less than 3 weeks. As you can imagine it was the hardest few weeks of our lives.

That’s not to say there weren’t good times. There was also one last visit from Abigails ‘best girls’. Belinda and Vicki got to see Scooby –  the wonderful mobility scooter they’d helped research and choose. The 3 of them had some happy days chatting, test driving Scooby and one last memorable trip to lower town harbour when the sun shone and there was even a folk band practising amongst the boats.

Sadly, the permanent drain that Abigail mentioned in her last blog never happened. We had all pinned so much hope on it easing the discomfort of the fluid retention from her Ascites, but it wasn’t to be. In the end the doctors said there was simply too much risk of infection and instead gave her another temporary drain. Despite getting so much joy from both Scooby the scooter and Priscilla, Queen of the Preseli’s (the new wheelchair accessible vehicle), in the end she was so immobile she left for the hospital in an ambulance – at her own request. Mike and Mick from the Welsh ambulance service actually carried her out and were both incredible key workers who went above and beyond to help her. A day later they even gave up their break to go and find her in the hospital to say hello and check up on their ‘favourite patient’. That says a lot about them – but also about the effect my sister had on people.

Sadly, despite losing around 8 litres of fluid, the last drain didn’t seem to give the same benefits and Abigail was in hospital for another week recovering in ward 10 of Withybush. Her lack of mobility meant that my parents decided to install a stair lift at home and also convert the downstairs toilet into a shower room. As the house was a little like a building site I decided to rent a bungalow in a nearby village which would be easier for Abigail to move around in. She was excited about the idea and even thought of it as a bit of a holiday. It was a ‘holiday cottage’ after all.  It was also right near her favourite beach of Pwllgwaelod. The plan was for Abigail and I to have some quality time together with Ma, Pa and Thomas Goswell visiting in the evening. It didn’t quite turn out like that.

It’s shocking to look back and think just how quickly she deteriorated – in terms of her mobility especially. In two weeks she went from walking with a stick to walking with a frame to not being able to walk at all. Being her full time carer meant just that. Having an alarm so she could call me in the middle of the night to help her to the toilet or commode. Managing drug schedules, helping her shower and wash, applying creams, sorting meals and even holding her hand as she tried to get to sleep. (I wish I’d done that last one more). I’d do it all a thousand times over, but it soon became apparent that I wasn’t sleeping much or coping on my own.

On the Saturday night Abigail was struggling to breathe and asked me to call 999 at about midnight. By a great twist of fate it was Mick again (and another brilliant paramedic, but I’m really sorry I can’t recall his name) who put her at ease and gave her the oxygen and drugs she needed. I thought they’d want to rush off and have busy paramedic work to do – but when I offered them a cup of tea they stayed and chatted till about 5am! I took a photo that strange night and two things strike me about it. One – Abigail’s ironically wearing her ‘Just Breathe T shirt’ while surrounded by oxygen and medical equipment – and two, she’s smiling. Again – that’s a testament to the paramedics putting her at ease and Abigail’s determination to be happy and find joy where others probably couldn’t.

After getting to sleep around 6am I called for back up.  Mum and Dad moved in to sleep over too and help out, particularly at night. It was a fortnight I’d like to push to the back of my mind but that’s not to say there weren’t happy memories too. A week before she passed, two of my best friends from school drove all the way from England to spend a couple of hours socially distanced from us. Claude and Helen also brought flowers for Abigail – and we all know how much she loved flowers! As with every other visit and every other gift or card or kind word – she was incredibly grateful.

One day we celebrated actually getting up and washed and eating breakfast before 11 – no mean feat! Abigail chose to play The Pointer sisters ‘Jump’ and asked me to dance. She did a chair dance while I danced like an idiot around the kitchen – even managing an impromptu Micheal Jackson moon walk at one point. She laughed and it was honestly such a happy moment. Another time as we were cooking a Sunday roast we played John Denver’s ‘Grandmothers feather bed’ and all sang along as a family. I filmed it – and although she looks frail, it still brings back happy memories. I didn’t know then it would be the last time we’d all sit at the table together to eat a roast dinner.

You never really know when the last of something will happen. Eating the last meal, watching the last episode of bake off, singing together, having a final hug. Yes, we’d all had three years of worry and nearly three years of coming to terms with the fact that Abigail’s cancer was terminal – but in the end, the end came quickly and suddenly. And yes, it was a shock.

On the Tuesday we even met with her palliative care team who suggested new drugs, oxygen being delivered to the home and she was booked in to hospital the following week for another drain. We were planning the next stages of care and while we didn’t have a prognosis were expecting another few weeks or months with her in our lives.

On the evening of Wednesday 14th she again complained about not being able to breathe so we again called 999. I expected a repeat of Saturday night but this time they wanted to admit her. I hastily packed an over night bag. Thanks to Covid we weren’t allowed in the ambulance so dad and I followed her the half an hour drive to Withybush hospital. I saw her arrive and go into and A and E and said we’d be waiting outside and would come in as soon as we were allowed. We weren’t.

Instead we went home, had a glass of wine, texted Abigail and tried to sleep. Through the whole ordeal of the paramedics being in the bungalow Thomas Goswell had remained usually subdued and quiet. He then did something he’s never done and came into my bedroom and put a paw on my bed. We held hands like family members concerned about their loved one. If you ever need proof that Animals understand a hell of a lot more than they let on – the proof is in that moment.

At 3.30am my phone rang and it was Abigail. She wanted to tell us which ward she was in so we could find her in the morning. Thank god I put her on speaker phone and woke my parents so we could all talk to her. She’d had a lot of morphine and there was a nurse in the room at one point so I have to say it wasn’t the longest conversation. All I can remember saying is that we loved her and she should get some sleep because we’d be in to visit her first thing in the morning. We have a family song from our childhood about loving each other, which I meant to sing that night but decided it was too late and we’d sing it tomorrow. Of course we never did and I will always regret that. How she had the capacity to find her phone and call us I will never know – but I’m so, so glad she did.

At 6.20am I had a call from a nurse saying we should come in. Within ten minutes we were in the car but by the time we got to the hospital it was too late. We were utterly shocked when the doctors told us she’d died. We didn’t see it coming. We really didn’t. I believe Abigail did though.

On her very last day she told us she no longer wanted to live. She’d been such a fighter right till the end and always able to find happiness. But in those last few days she really couldn’t fight the pain. We didn’t want to hear it as a family of course. We simply cried and told her we find ways to make her more comfortable. I believe She knew though that it was her time to go. She knew and she tried to warn us. We had so many group family hugs that last evening, for which I’ll be eternally grateful.

In the end it was a nurse called Angelina who was with Abigail in her final moments. My Dad pointed out how fitting it was that Angelina means angel. I’m beyond gutted we couldn’t be there but there’s no changing that. We were told by another nurse who was still on shift that she talked about us and knew how much she was loved.

We chose to see Abigail that morning and I’m actually really glad we did. You could argue it was no longer Abigail.  And it wasn’t really, but the good thing is she genuinely looked at peace. It sounds a cliché but she looked happy. She had a little smile on her face and looked as though she was sleeping sweetly and having a happy dream. After the awfulness of the proceeding 24 hours it was the only thing that gave me comfort. It really was a blessing to know she was no longer in pain. We stayed with her for around two hours and even sang our family song to her. Then we said good bye and left. Left into the most beautiful sunny day west Wales had seen in a while. People were rushing to work, the radio was playing the same old songs and life went on as normal. For everybody else anyway. I know for us, her family and her friends: that’s going to take some time.

I didn’t want to focus too much on her death, but honestly it’s all I’ve been able to think about for months. I’d rather focus on her life to be honest. Please do read my eulogy below as I’ve tried to do as much justice to her varied, unusual and very full life there. Hopefully I’ve captured her essence and put into words just how much she adored life. It is important to talk about death too though. We live in a society that hides death and glosses over it and yet 150,000 people die every day. The more we learn to understand  it and try and cope with it, the stronger we become.

I know she died too young. I know I’m going to miss her every day for the rest of my life but hopefully she didn’t die in vain.  Through this blog and through the way she lived her life she left an incredible legacy and some very important philosophies. Her kindness and generosity is something that stands out. I for one am trying to be a bit more ‘Abigail’ and make time for people, check in on them and of course write thank you letters and buy presents more often. She really was the master of that.

I’m also making sure I check my boobs regularly. And I’ll be making sure that her message of CHECK YOUR BOOBS AND BITS – gets spread far and wide to help save even more lives through early diagnosis.

Most importantly perhaps, I will endeavour to enjoy every moment and appreciate all that I have in life. Abigail managed it in the most trying circumstances, so we should all try too.

I love you dear sister and for you I will carry on loving life and whenever I can – turn my face to the sun. xx

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WHAT CAN I DO?

Plant a tree. We didn’t want flowers at Abigail’s service but instead asked people to plant a tree in her memory. She LOVED trees! People have already started planted trees in her memory all over the world. My parents have chosen a copper beech – but choose what ever you fancy. If, like me, you don’t have a garden you can choose to have a tree planted for you in a forest. I chose https://www.nationalforest.org/get-involved/plant-a-tree/dedicate-a-tree but there are others.

Give to charity. There are many out there who help cancer patients or their families – but here are a few suggestions:

Paul Sartori are a charity local to Pembrokeshire as there are no hospices. They were incredibly helpful to Abigail – providing equipment and facilities around the home to help make her life easier. They also continue to provide us with free bereavement counselling – https://paulsartori.org/

Make2ndscount was a favourite charity of Abigail’s. Through research, campaigning and support, they give hope to those affected by secondary breast cancer and to their families – https://www.make2ndscount.co.uk

Breast cancer now – another great charity who do a lot of research into secondary breast cancer – https://breastcancernow.org/

Give Blood. Abigail benefited from many blood transfusions in her last year. During lockdown it’s classed as an essential journey and its easy and safe to do so. You can register here if you’re in England.. https://www.blood.co.uk/

Feel your boobs and bits! I’m sure you know what you’re doing – but here’s some helpful advice: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/how-should-i-check-my-breasts

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ABIGAIL’S REMEMBERANCE CEREMONY

Abigail was adamant she didn’t want a funeral. So we held a service at a crematorium but made sure we didn’t use the word funeral. Thanks to Covid there were only 12 people in the room and 18 outside in the cold. However we did make sure we played some of her favourite songs and remember the incredible woman that she was in the best way we could.

We’ve promised to hold a huge party in the next covid free summer so we can celebrate her life properly.

Below you’ll find all the words and some of the images that we used at the service.

To see all the photos we used and watch two videos click here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1aTKpb1V0_KH9rB7JE94LZqHHfHdZzDij

DADS POEM

I am a flower I am a tree I am the sun

These have made my life and now it’s done

Remember me in these three things

Look up and smell the world and glory in what life brings

Take in the beauty enjoy the sounds

Please change the world for me, you have no bounds

I am a flower I am the sun I am a tree

Watch them for ever and think of me.

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VICKI’S WORDS

To my dear, dear friend AG.

I love that you’re always up for fun and adventure, making things happen, having a laugh and making the best of every situation.

I love how thoughtful, kind and generous you are. No occasion goes unmarked. You have a way of making people feel so special and loved.

I love that knowing you has made me a better person.

I love that your advice covers every angle every time.

These are just some of the reasons you will always be with me……

Every time I have an adventure, from afternoon tea in Windsor to skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

Yes, I will think of you EVERY TIME I have to put a pair of ski boots on, and EVERY TIME they have to stop the chair lift because some ‘twit ;-)’ has miss-timed it or in extreme cases has fallen off  (I’m laughing out loud right now…).

 Horses… from tiny ones in the rain to big ones being ridden in a muddy field…..

 Any kind of wager, from the horses, to a cheeky scratch card (or ten), to casinos, roulette and Oli’s Bar….

 Booze, from a cold beer / grasshopper, to a fancy wine or glass of prosecco – I will raise a toast.

 Cricket with a picnic on a sunny afternoon.

 The TK Maxx ghastly shoe rail…..

 Target shooting, followed by a sweet-treat.

 Face painting, from dainty flowers to full on tiger face!

 Food markets and Christmas fairs.

 And of course…Flamingos….And they are f-ing everywhere!!!! 

These are just a few things that will make me think of you each and every day, and smile.

BELINDAS POEM

Some things I’ll always remember that make me smile…  

I remember student days of laughter and cheer

The start of forever friendships and of course there was beer… and cider and snakebite and cocktails but mainly beer

I remember travels to far away places 

Swimming in the sea, trying new things and the sun on our faces

I remember discovering destinations nearer home

The Cotswolds, Cornish beaches, the New Forest – where we’d watch horses and deer roam

I remember the birthdays, the parties, nights out – with wine, beer, cocktails and bottles of fizzy

The singing, the dancing until we were dizzy

I remember the music festivals that went on way past dark

The comedy gigs and pubs in the park

I remember the things that make me laugh out loud

Like being chased off a beach where we weren’t allowed

Like getting ready for a wedding in a petrol station WC

or nearly missing another after a late night drinking spree

Like loosing a birthday cake, then remembering you ate it

and the seagull with issues – that made our sides split

What I remember the most is the friendship, the love and the moments that matter; we shared

And all of these my lovely one, will always be there

AND CAKE – I remember cake, and for you I will always eat cake and smile

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MY EULOGY

Abigail Goswell.

I’m not sure how I’m going to do you justice in around 15 minutes – but I’ll give it a good try!

Just saying Abigail’s name Or sissy poo or SP – as I started calling her a few years ago,  makes me smile.  And I hope when you think of her, you smile too. She really was the glue that held GozFam together – a name SHE invented and so many of you have adopted too.

I know today  – and many, many days that follow – will be full of tears and sorrow – but hopefully they WON’T be filled with regret. Abigail had the BEST doctors and nurses and palliative care team looking after her – but no one could make her better. Yes, she went too soon,   but we know in the end she couldn’t stay with us  –  because she was simply in too much pain. We, as her family, are devastated but we also know we did all we could to make her comfortable in her final months and days. But just as importantly,  we made sure  – and SHE made damn sure -that her final years were filled with the most incredible happy memories too.

Hopefully all the photos we’ve selected will remind you just how much Abigail loved life and how she seized joy wherever and whenever she could. You’ll notice a few themes – cake, prosecco, family, friends, sun, holidays, nature – and did I mention cake? Abigail’s ability to continue to enjoy all these things and more despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer never seized to amaze me.

There’s a quote on the order of service form Albert Camus. It’s a quote I hadn’t heard until I found it last week when going through Abigail’s phone – she had several copies of it on her photo gallery so I know it meant a lot to her.

He said this:   “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”   It’s almost like Abigail took it on as a mantra. She was facing the hardest thing a human being can face and yet she had the huge strength to carry on and seize life and literally cling on to summer. She filled her life with flowers – especially peonies, with family, with friends and when she could – trips to walk amongst the trees or trips to the beach. Even as her world got smaller and smaller she would still find simple things like a hug or a song on the radio to make her smile. I spoke to her about a month ago and asked her how she did it? How do you stay so strong when you’re facing what you’re facing?; and she told me it was her choice. She said look, “I can choose to wallow in deep despair and depression or I can choose to get on with it and be happy and find happiness where ever I can.” And in that moment my little sister taught me more than any philosopher or religion could.

She taught me to take a moment to enjoy everything – no matter HOW small. A shard of sunlight, a bird singing – or of course the first bite of a cake.

I know she inspired you too. A couple of years ago she started writing a regular blog to document her journey with stage 4 cancer. It was always a tough read and I always cried – but she also made time for joy and humour in it. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her. She proved herself to be an incredible writer and she’s now had over 25,000 people read it from all over the world. We, as a family could not be more proud. Abigail’s other great mantra over the last few years was “feel your boobs and bits” – so please listen to her and do this as soon as you get home – and then every Friday after that.

I want to take some time now to reflect on Abigail’s life. We were lucky enough to have 47 incredible years together.

Not many of you will know this – but when she was born on June 28th in 1973 in Manama she made history. Her birth was the first ever in the country of Bahrain to be attended by the father. My Dad had to plead with the minister for health who then only let him in the hospital on the condition that he wore scrubs and pretended he was a surgeon! An extraordinary start in life for an extra ordinary human being.

Abigail and I had a hugely privileged and somewhat unusual childhood – living in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, St Lucia and China. Our parents, as well as being the best parents in the world and showering us with unconditional love – helped Abigail and I develop a love of travel and an appetite for adventure.

In St Lucia my dad built us the most amazing climbing frame that had a flat top and we’d sit on it in the evening.  Mum would bring us out our tea which we’d eat while looking down the garden filled with banana plants all the way down to the Caribbean sea below. It really was idyllic.

I’ll admit though, I haven’t always been the model big sister. On her first day at school – a building that’s now the St Lucia school of music, I failed to tell her the correct protocol for lunch breaks. During the 11am break Abigail assumed it was lunchtime so ate the entire contents of her lunch box – leaving her nothing to eat at actual lunch. I was so embarrassed for her I pretended she was nothing to do with me. Awful!

Despite that, she was always a faithful loving little sister to me. She didn’t particularly have theatrical ambitions but she was always happy to help out when I decided that every Friday morning in Abu Dhabi we would perform some sort of play or musical number for my parents – or any visitors they might have. She’d faithfully get up at about 6am to start rehearsals and prepare costumes for what ever mad extravaganza I’d planned. She even tolerated my magician phase – accepting the role of magicians assistant!

Our middle eastern childhood together was spent sitting on beaches eating tinned mussels in 40 degree heat, sat on chairs outside watching James Bond films projected onto a car park wall. Learning to water-ski from the age of six, practising synchronised swimming routines together , practicing the piano when our limited TV viewing was interrupted for a prayer intermission, feasting on chicken sharwma in pitta bread and of course  being woken at about 5am every morning by the  mullah calling all good muslims to prayer. It was a different childhood – but one filled with sun and laughter.

When I was 12 and Abigail was just 9 our parents globe trotting took them to Shekou in China meaning that Abigail and I needed to go to boarding school. King Edwards school witley was our home for the next SIX YEARS. Despite the victorian plumbing, regulation underwear and strict rules that even rationed bath times for the first couple of years, both Abigail and I made strong friendships that have and will last a lifetime. Abigail was only allowed to join the school at such a young age on the understanding that she repeat a year –she never did . So,  Incredibly she did her GCSE’s  at 14 and her A levels at 16. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been being over a year younger than all her classmates. My one big regret is that I wasn’t much of a big sister to her back then and I pretty much left her to get on with it and barely spoke to her. That she forgave me and went on to show me unconditional love tells you everything you need to know about how big a heart she had.

Our holidays though were spent in each others company. She adored spending time at my parents’ house in Wensleydale. Summers were spent taking long walks, picnicking and incredibly getting into our cossies and swimming in near freezing rivers and showering in waterfalls pretending we were in the 1980’s Timotei advert! It being Yorkshire there was also a LOT of time watching the rain and wind hit the windows while we played monopoly. And yes she always let me be the top hat!

Other holidays were spent flying to Hong Kong with large plastic signs around our necks saying – unaccompanied minor!!!  

We’d get the ferry to Shekou and spend our time setting off fireworks on the beach, and cycling around town trying unsuccessfully to buy western products like toilet roll and coffee. We were also lucky enough to watch Wham in China – even staying at the same hotel as the boys themselves. Somehow we worked out what room they were in and wrote a love letter to George Michael and put it under his door. Strangely he never replied!

But despite our privileged and very similar upbringing I do believe that Abigail suffered a lot more hardship and heartbreak in her young life than I ever did. At 16 she lost her very best friend at school Annette. The two were inseparable. But Annette sadly passed away from toxic shock syndrome. Then just over a year later when Abigail was taking a year out before uni her next best friend Geoff died in a car accident. We’ll never know how deep those emotional scars ran – but that she carried on and never lost her lust for life is a testament to her huge strength.

Abigail also showed huge strength in the way she chose to live her life by HER rules. She resisted the pressure to have a partner – choosing to focus on friends and family instead. Mums attempts to send her newspaper cut outs of the lonely hearts column were, shall we say – NOT very well received!

I remember once – when we’d arrived at our amazing hotel in Mont Tremblant in Canada for a skiing holiday – I looked at the log fire and snowy vistas and said – “wow this is so romantic – it would be a great to come here with a partner”. She gave me an annoyed look and said “OR,  it would just be nice to come with a friend – or your sister!” I couldn’t say much to that!

Now this may surprise you, but as a child Abigail always wanted to be an astronaut. It was a dream she firmly believed she could achieve – and even last Christmas her obsession with the cosmos meant she asked me for a moon lamp as a gift. She was also the sensible one amongst us though, so in case that career didn’t take off,   she enrolled on a degree in business studies at Derby university. Again she made some incredible friends that have been with her ever since – including one of her very best friends Belinda – who’s reflections you’ll hear a bit later. I want to thank both her and Vicki who she met later in her career at Draeger for being what she called her ‘best girls’. You’ve both become family and I’m so grateful for, not just everything you’ve done in the last few years of hardship and illness,  but over the decades being incredibly supportive friends to her. I know you’ll say the same thing I say when ever anyone says I’ve been an amazing sister – SHE made us amazing and we know for a fact that she’d have been there and done all of this and more for any one of us.

Abigail went on to have a hugely successful career in international HR working for big companies like Cable and Wireless, Drager, G.E and more recently Martin Brower. It’s no surprise that she dedicated her life to the human side of business because despite telling me she was an introvert – she really was a people person and cared about people greatly.

Over the last few weeks I’ve learnt just how much an impact she had at work– having so many messages from people saying they used to be colleagues but had become friends. Many took time out to message me and tell me how Abigail helped them. She not only knew exactly how to solve their problems, she knew instinctively when they needed her help. One person messaged me to say that Abigail was the only person who contacted her when she was feeling down and lonely. Somehow she just knew, and knew the right words to say.

There have been several occasions over the last few months when she’s turned to me and said – go and give mum a hug – or go and give dad a hug. She just knew, when I didn’t, when people were struggling.  And she knew how to make it better.

She cared greatly about things being done properly and about people being treated fairly. This was a trait she carried into her personal life – expecting great service and respect wherever she went. There are many organisations and individuals across the globe who have felt the brunt of an Abigail Goswell complaint letter. There was one hotel in London who after giving her and Belinda’s room away, fobbed them off with a dungeon room with camp beds who refused to acknowledge any wrong doing – but generally speaking she was a master at receiving apologies, promises of change as well as discounts or freebies. Even in her last few weeks she complained about treatment from one member of staff at the hospital. Not because she thought she’d personally benefit or ever see the person again – but to stop anyone else being upset in the future. She wanted to make things right.

I honestly believe that my sister was the most thoughtful and considerate person I’ve ever come across. Even in her final few years when she was going through the unimaginable,   she’d find time to help and advise others going through hardships. If everyone was a little bit more like Abigail,  I firmly believe the world would be a better place.

She was also the best person ever at buying presents. I apologise if my fashion sense takes a dive because most of the decent clothes I own are ones she’s bought me.  She always knew exactly what to get the parents who have everything too – one year buying them pink egg boxes with personalised labels that said “lovingly laid by the Goswell chickens”.

Even in her death Abigail showed that she was always thinking of others rather than herself. She was adamant that she wouldn’t die at home to protect our happy memories. And then,  as the ambulance took her to hospital that final time, what was one of the last things she ever said to me? It wasn’t – make sure you follow the ambulance – it wasn’t come and visit me –it was “can you tell mum and dad they’re left their bedroom window open?!!”. She was literally always thinking of others.

Parents – I’m going to have to do my best to remember your wedding anniversary now because it was ALWAYS Abigail organising flowers and reminding me. But thank you, from me, for raising the BEST sister a girl could hope for. The unconditional love you gave her shone through in the love she gave the world. You really DID do her proud.

I’m going to end now with another quote – not from a philosopher but from the wizard of Oz. Since lockdown Abigail brought together a mad disparate group of friends and family in what became known as quiz Akabusi. A Friday night online quiz / chat / drinking session which usually also involved fancy dress. The week we chose musicals as the theme, Abigail stunned us with her Maria from the sound of music, while both Julia and I dressed as the tin man. My final quote is something the wizard said to the tin man – and again it’s something I found on Abigail’s phone – so I know it resonated with her.

The wizard said: “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

Well, Abigail Goswell – you were loved enormously – why? Because you were so easy to love. You deserved it. You were thoughtful, you were generous, you were kind. Thank you for being you. Thank you for showing us to live in the moment and turn our faces to the sun. Thank you for 47 incredible years. Thank you. x

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Abigail’s Matchboxes.

Ever thoughtful – Abigail designed these herself. She designed them for giving out once she’d died. They never existed as a product but will now be sold and available for others via ‘Not on the High street’. We’ve given some out to friends and family and have more to give out at the big celebration of her life. We’ll be throwing a big party in the first covid free summer we get so we can celebrate Abigail’s life!

THANK YOU’S

A huge thank-you to all Abigail’s friends and colleagues who visited her in deepest darkest wales or messaged or sent cards, flowers or gifts and were there for her in those last few months.

A massive thank you to all friends of GozFam. After she passed we were overwhelmed with cards and flowers and incredible messages. There are too many of you to name individually! Your kind words and love meant so, so much to all of us.

The residents of Glynmel road, Lower Town, Fishguard. Your kindness and friendship has been out of this world. Thank you for showing us what a community is all about.

Lynda Doyle – You and your team went above and beyond in providing palliative care to Abigail. Thank you for bringing love and light in her darkest hour.

Klaudia Dobrzycka– Thank you for your medical expertise and care and attention. Abigail respected you so much and we know you did all you could.

Kim – I never really knew what an occupational therapist did – but I’m pretty sure you did way more than anyone else would have. Thank you for being a ray of sunshine.

DR Thomas. Thank you for being a caring and professional GP and even visiting Abigail at home.

Nicky – You and Abigail got close in those last few months I know. She so looked forward to all your massages and I know she got huge benefit and comfort from them too. Thank you x

Alice – Thank you for being such a great acupuncturist to Abigail. I know she really appreciated all your work. And I appreciated the surf lesson too!

Everyone at Paul Sartori –who helped provide Abigail with equipment she needed to make her life easier. A special thank-you to Sarah and especially to Elvire and Diana who continue to help mum, Dad and I through being excellent bereavement counsellors.  

The district nurses who visited every Thursday to check Abigail, change bandages and do what ever needed doing.

The Prof – (David M) We never met but I know how Abigail had huge respect for you and how you helped prolong her life with all the treatment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The nurses at Elstree cancer centre – I don’t know you all by name but I went with Abigail for several chemotherapy sessions and was always amazed. Not just by your level of care, but by how you could make the process almost fun and be so positive and friendly.

Julia and Bruce Moffett – Thank you for all your work making sure we gave Abigail the best send-off we could.

My friends. Thank you for the phone calls, the flowers, the gifts, the cards. I needed you more than ever and you were there for me. I can’t wait for the vaccine so we can all hug again!

My rock – Siobhan O’ Neill. I don’t know how I’d have got through these last couple of years without you. Thank you for being you x

15 thoughts on “I am a flower, I am a tree, I am the sun.

  1. What an amazing post and thank you for sharing your stories and memories. Loved that she said the bedroom window was open, that made me smile very much. She was as you say a truly wonderful person but I do believe that this was in no small part due to the family that were such a vital part of her life. Thank you for this post which is a real testament to her and to you all. JM

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  2. Dear Emma Goswell,

    My heart goes out to you and your incredibly happy and loving family. Reading your words and having enjoyed Abigail’ blah blah myself I have been able to reflect on a time a few years ago when I too was a career for my mom and my husband’s mother as they were both taking from us by cancer and other ailments. Funny thing is they both said the same thing in the end, as I was trying to encourage my mother to have a half a slice of toast and butter one morning and she said “ I have figured it out, your all just waiting for me to die” and a couple days later she did, and I am personally glad that she too is no longer in all of the end of life suffering. Your sisters writings are a source of comfort to me as I am still having a very difficult time dealing with loss. I love you all and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers ??

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  3. Such wonderful memories, and beautiful photographs. I know you will all miss Abigail dreadfully, but she will always be with you, a part of you. I know this sounds like a cliche but it is something I know to be true, I feel that both of my sisters are with me, despite no longer being on this earth. I think about them a lot, and I try to live my life for them as well as for me, to enjoy life, to love, to appreciate all that is around me. They didn’t have the chance to go forward, but I do, and I can do it for all of us. From reading your words I feel this may be the same for you.
    It was wonderful to read your memories, and the strong love and closeness you all share. Abigail was a wonderful and inspiring person, and all of the love you describe will have helped her to be that lovely woman. My warmest wishes to you all. Marion xx

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  4. Words can’t really express the sadness I felt to hear of Abigail’s passing. My heart goes out to you all. Abigail was a wonderful lady to work for and I feel honoured to have had her in my life for such a short time. As your testimony shows she touched many lives with her kindness, compassion and sense of fun, mine included. I will forever be inspired by her courage. I miss her.

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