When Leah was on the lovely purpose built Adolescent Ward in Bristol, she was in isolation and could only avail of the excellent recreational facilities whenever none of the other patients were using them.
However some of the other young patients were well enough to be “out and about” and they clearly enjoyed a break from the confines of their room.
I also liked to ‘escape’ periodically from our lovely little room. I used to get an opportunity to do this when Leah was watching television. Leah liked the fact that I would bring back the ‘ward news’ and thereby give us something different to talk about.
Some of these young patients were bored and only too glad of an adult to interact with. Others were more shy. One of those whom I regularly saw, pushing her IV pole around the ward, was Alex Lacey. I used to smile at her and she would smile shyly back.
The adolescent ward catered for teenagers with any kind of medical condition, but Alex’s chemotherapy baldness, indicated to me that she was there for similar reasons to Leah.
Then, in October 2013, Leah and Alex were both discharged to Sam’s House, the Clic Sargent Hostel. Leah and Alex met and chatted. Leah said to me afterwards: “Mummy, I wish that I had met Alex at the start of my time here, not the end, she’s so lovely.”
I wished that they had met sooner too, Leah had longed so much for company of her own age. I could see that she and Alex had immediately ‘clicked’ and were clearly very compatible.
I met Alex’s lovely Mum and we hugged – relationships tend to be ‘fast-tracked’ in these ‘life and death’ situations. The Lacey’s were getting ready to celebrate Christmas (yes, in October), as Alex would shortly be going for a bone marrow transplant and was not expected to be home in time for Christmas.
Leah and Alex exchanged contact details and promised to keep in touch.
Shortly after we returned home to Ireland, Leah and I were absolutely heartbroken, when Alex messaged Leah to say that there would be no bone marrow transplant – Alex’s lymphoma was incurable.
I really struggled to get my head around this.
As I subsequently encountered so many ‘firsts’ without my darling daughter, I thought of Alex’s parents – they were potentially having their ‘lasts’ with their darling, only, daughter.
My first Christmas without Leah, was their last Christmas with their daughter. I tried to imagine what that must feel like, but I couldn’t, not really.
Can we really and truly understand what anyone goes through, unless we have gone through it ourselves?
This morning Alex’s Mum posted the saddest message on her Facebook page – the kind of post that no parent ever wants to have to compose:
“Our beautiful, precious daughter Alexandra has flown away to join the Angels. She passed away peacefully yesterday at home with David and myself by her side. Our hearts are forever broken. Xxx”
Please pray for all who mourn.
A few months back Alex recorded this very touching video in which she speaks so candidly about her illness, but without a trace of self-pity. I’ve watched it several times, but I have never been able to watch it without crying.
Alex’s lovely, gentle, sweet nature is so very evident.