A couple of years ago my stepfather, Martin, passed away in his sleep. While he had been ill for quite a while, his death was sudden and unexpected. It came as a shock to us all and it meant that I was never able to properly say goodbye.
For years Martin had been suffering from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a terrifying, debilitating and incurable illness caused by the degeneration of the nerve cells in his brain. At first the symptoms were mild but by the end they had robbed him of his ability to move unaided. He struggled to talk in anything but a whisper, and even lifting a cup to his mouth to take a drink cost him a huge amount of physical effort and pain. It was a tragic end for a kind, quiet and generous man who didn't deserve any of it.
In the following days we pulled together as a family to sort out everything from the funeral arrangements to registering Martin's death. One task assigned to me during this time was to gather his personal effects from storage in the loft at my mum's house so we could pass them on to his children.