Today the sun is shining and that initially had me in floods of tears……whenever the sun shone Leah used to climb out the bedroom window onto the flat roof of the boiler house and sit there to study or read a good book.
Her much loved cat Charlie usually lay sprawled out beside her. Charlie also slept in the bed beside Leah every night. Leah called him “my chicken” and hugged him tight and told him her secrets.
When she was upset his fur soaked up her tears. While in the transplant unit Leah used to look at photos of her cat and tell me how much she missed him.
Then the day came when my husband phoned me and told me that Charlie had been killed on the road. It nearly broke my heart to have to tell my very sick child that her cat was dead.The light seemed to disappear from Leah’s eyes and she hardly spoke for three days.
We were in Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Irish Sea separated us from our home in N.I.. Leah was being nursed in isolation. Oh how very much I wished I could take away the pain of her homesickness, the symptoms of her illness and her grief for her much loved cat who had been her constant companion and a huge source of comfort to her.
Sadly I could do none of these.
All I could do was be there for her, quietly supporting her, praying for her and with her, and reading the Bible to her when she asked me to. Like so many times in this illness journey, my heart was breaking for my daughter.
Eventually Leah began to smile and laugh again and we shared our silly jokes & funny stories. She was such good company. She knew that the source of her strength was in God and there wasn’t a day went by that she didn’t want me to read and pray with her.
A friend had sent us a little book called 50 Days of Hope – Daily inspiration for Your Journey Through Cancer by Lynn Eib. The nights that Leah couldn’t sleep because of the side-effects of steroid therapy, she would lie in her bed while I held her hand and read page after page aloud from this little book – it encouraged both of us.
Sometimes her eyes would close and I would stop reading, thinking she had gone to sleep, feeling quite exhausted myself, then Leah’s eyes would flick open again. I would smile to myself, remembering days & nights spent rocking one of my colicky babies in their pram – their eyes also sprang open the minute my tired arms stopped propelling the pram backwards & forwards over the door saddle in a desperate attempt to soothe my fractious infant.
When exhaustion prevented me from continuing to read to Leah I snuggled up beside her in her hospital bed and cuddled her until she fell asleep. Then I would get out and lie in my own comfy bed which was almost beside hers.
I slept quite well in Bristol, secure in the knowledge that whenever my daughter needed me I was right there beside her. Secure also in the knowledge that if we needed medical help, we were in the care of some amazing nurses and doctors.
So many memories.