Wednesday, 24 November 2010

In Memory of my sister, after 7 years

It was seven years ago today that I got the phone call from Mum. I was at work, sitting in the canteen with my workmate. Mum told me that she had bad news and I paused, expecting to hear something about my Gran having fallen over or something.

Instead, Mum told me that she was at Leicester hospital, walking back to the car with my Dad and that my sister Tracy was dead. She was 32.

Tracy was two years younger than me and we fought like cat and dog during childhood (and into our teens too!), but were fiercely protective of one another. She developed MS late on in life, at the start of 2003 and suffered upwards of six relapses. She had to endure lengthy stays in hospital, which must have been awful for her - she was an active person, into horse-riding and spending time with us all and she was confined to bed and unable to do a lot of things for herself - but I never really heard her complain. At the time, Alison & I were desperately trying for a child and Tracy kept track of our appointments at the hospital, asking how things went and trying to gee us up as each month passed. Going to see her in hospital was a difficult experience - I loved to make her laugh and would do pretty much anything in the pursuit of that, but it was painful to see her try and do things as her body rebelled against her.

Tracy collapsed on the morning of November 25th, 2003, Dad’s 60th birthday. The cause of death was later given as a pulmonary embolism. I didn’t know what to say or to do and Alison & I went straight to Mum & Dad’s house that day. Sarah, at the time, was in Derby at Uni so I drove us all up there to deliver the news. We arrived just before she got home and she got out of her car and seemed excited, as if we’d all gone up there to see her for Dad’s birthday. Until Dad went across the road, crying and told her the real reason.

Tracy’s funeral service was held in the Parish church in Rothwell - I’ve never seen so many people in there - and I read the eulogy. The burial was held at the little cemetery on the edge of town and it was a cold, dank day. Afterwards, we went back to the old Sunday School buildings (now the Trinity Centre) for tea and some food. Nick was with us (he and Tracy got on really well), staying overnight at ours and supervising the taped music at the service. At the wake, he busied himself making sure that everyone had a drink and something to eat, whilst the rest of us just seemed to reel around and try to connect with people.

We’re meeting at Mum & Dad’s tonight - me & Alison & Matthew and Sarah & Chris & Lucy - and it’s not a birthday party (as Dad is keen to point out), but more a family gathering. I can’t believe it’s seven years - so much has happened since then, but it seems like only yesterday.
I still miss Tracy a lot, as do Mum & Dad and Sarah and Alison. Matthew obviously never met her, but he knows who she is and that’s the main thing, I think, to make sure that her memory continues to burn brightly.


Tracy, Dad, Mum, me, Alison
Outside Madame Tusseads, London, March 2003 (before the MS kicked in)


  1. Condolences, Mark. A fine memorial to her.

  2. Can't put in to words what I feel or want to express, but you know, don't you. Love you Mark x

  3. Thanks, Pauline, you're a great comfort today as you were on that day. Love you too.