A Sword will Pierce your Soul

A Sword will Pierce your Soul

Luke 2:34-35 (NIV)

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

When Jesus was a baby, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to present him to the Lord as was the custom in those days. A man called Simeon, who we are told was “righteous and devout”, took baby Jesus in his arms and spoke the above words.

What stands out for me is that Mary was told that as a result of all that her son would suffer “a sword would pierce her soul”.

Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, which is incredibly good news. Was Mary told “don’t worry, be happy“, because this would all work out for the best? No, she was told “a sword will pierce your own soul“.

Even two thousand years ago, there was a profound understanding of the love of a mother for her child, and the utter devastation that a parent feels when their child suffers and dies.

Leah faced death with serenity and without fear. I know that she’s in a much better place and is rejoicing forevermore – a princess united with her King.

However, for Horace and I, Leah’s illness and death is like a sword in our hearts. Leah’s passing has left a gaping hole in our family. Sometimes my grief is so overwhelming that I wonder if my kids feel like they’ve lost their mummy as well as their sister? Grieving just drains our emotional energy as parents.

There’s so much to process. Leah had just nine months from diagnosis to death. We’re still trying to take it all in. Sometimes I even struggle to believe that the events of 2013 really happened.

Asda have a slogan called “rollback” where they claim to rollback their prices to a time when things were cheaper. Since Leah died I’ve often fantasised about being able to roll my life back to an earlier time when ALL of my kids got off the school bus at our house everyday and I had their dinner ready.
Leah always arrived home hungry and got upset if she couldn’t smell dinner cooking as she came through the door.

This is Leah last year with Miriam’s cat Mittens.

image

That’s partly why I’ve still kept all of Leah’s medication. I periodically need to open her medication drawer and look inside, just to convince myself that the events of the past eighteen months really did happen. That it wasn’t all just some crazy dream from which I’m about to wake up.

I went back to work part time in the Health Service two weeks ago. I’m deeply appreciative of the fact that my employers held my post for me while I was off and were also very supportive of me throughout that time.

The weekend before I returned to work saw me plunged into an even deeper level of grieving than I had previously experienced. It was awful, just awful.

Before Leah was diagnosed I had written in my diary “Is it normal for someone to enjoy their work as much as I enjoy mine?” 

After all the experiences of the past year I wasn’t sure if I would even still like my job any more. I didn’t know if I could leave my grief aside sufficiently to be able to focus on my work.

Well, so far so good. I do still love my job and I have found myself able to focus. I find it a very welcome distraction from the sword in my heart. I’m glad to once again be a provider within the Health Service rather than a recipient of services.

I certainly don’t forget about Leah or any of my children while I’m working – I just temporarily forget my pain.

Then when my day’s work is done I walk out the door and connect with my grief and loss once more. Sometimes I’m crying before I even drive out of the car park. Still, it’s good to be back at work.

During Leah’s illness and subsequent death, I submitted three Health Service related, written complaints. None of these were ever intended to be a “witch-hunt” or to single any one person out for criticism. In my letters I always sought to emphasise the positive and to point out the strengths within the services that we were receiving, as well as highlighting the changes that I felt were needed. As a mummy I wanted the very best services possible for my daughter and for other seriously ill young people too.

Sometimes it’s not lack of money that’s the problem, it’s lack of awareness of how our behaviour as professionals impacts the recipients of the services we provide.

Yes the NHS is strapped for cash, yes there have been some awful cutbacks, but ultimately the NHS is made up of individuals, some of whom are incredibly stressed because of very heavy workloads.

However, overall the NHS has been very good to Leah and I. Overall Leah received excellent medical and nursing care across three Health Trusts. Overall we have been well supported emotionally by the health professionals involved in Leah’s care. We met some amazing individuals – consultants, doctors, nurses and ancillary workers – whose compassion and genuine care for us was very evident and whose timely hugs said more than words ever could.

Now that I am once more a provider within the Health Service I hope and pray that I also can make a positive difference in the lives of others.

As I travel to and from work I usually have Rend Collective, Leah’s favourite band, blasting out:

Joy

You’re the joy joy joy lighting my soul
The joy joy joy making me whole
Though I’m broken, I am running
Into Your arms of love

The pain will not define us
Joy will reignite us
You’re the song
You’re the song
Of our hearts

The dark is just a canvas
For Your grace and brightness
You’re the song
You’re the song
Of our hearts

 

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