Driving to Belfast

Driving to Belfast



Sunday 2nd June 2013 was the first time that I ever drove to Belfast myself.

I don’t particularly like driving, I have no sense of direction and long distance driving can be one of my migraine triggers.

All of these together are very good reasons why I had never driven to Belfast before this. However now that Leah was unwell and having regular appointments in Belfast, I knew that I had to acquire the ability to drive the 140 mile round trip from our house to the hospitals there.

This time last year was when Leah was going through the process of having her eggs harvested to preserve her fertility. Her scan appointments were every two days, including Sunday.

We left the house around 8am and the roads were lovely and quiet. My eldest daughter navigated very well and we had detailed directions drawn by my husband. Leah dozed on the back seat. Her energy levels weren’t great and early mornings were difficult for her.

The appointment at the RVH didn’t last long on this occasion and we were soon back on the road again. We stopped off at a favourite beauty spot with our family over the years – the Antrim Forum on the shores of Lough Neagh.

We’d remembered to bring bread for the ducks and swans. I grew up in Cork City and feeding swans and ducks on a Sunday was always a big treat.


After this we headed into Ballymena to Frankie & Benny’s
It was Rachel’s 19th birthday the following day so I was treating us to lunch. We had a nice day.
A few weeks ago Leah’s lovely gynaecologist phoned from the Regional Fertility Clinic to let me know that Leah’s eggs would be destroyed.

When Leah was having her eggs harvested we had to sign a form to say that if she died then her eggs could be destroyed – it’s UK law. Leah’s gynaecologist was very gentle with me on the phone and she gave me all the time that I needed.

Before Leah died she received funding from one of the Cancer Charities to plan a special treat for herself with her older sister Rachel. Unfortunately Leah died before this could be arranged.

I suggested therefore that the money be used for Rachel and I to spend some special time together. So this year for Rachel’s birthday she and I are using this money to have a ‘midweek break’ in a nice hotel. I’m looking forward to chilling out with Rachel this week in the hotel’s leisure facilities.


Precious memories

Precious memories

Thursday 13th June ’13 we were flying to Bristol Children’s Hospital for Leah’s first outpatient appointment the following day.

Simon, as her bone marrow donor was part of this.

Miriam was coming too as I felt that psychologically it was important to include Miriam in everything wherever possible.

I had phoned the hospital and enquired and they had said that their Play Therapist would keep an eye on Miriam in the play area while we were speaking to the consultant.

Rachel wasn’t accompanying us to Bristol but thankfully she insisted on coming to the airport with us so that we could have a family picnic at one of our favourite places to go as a family – the Antrim Forum.

I remember at the time being a little ungracious about all of this – when translated this means “very grumpy”!

Packing for the trip, getting six people out of the house AND organising a picnic while also ensuring we were on time for our flights felt like an awful lot of effort at the time.

I also remember though that once we got to the Antrim Forum we enjoyed being there, as we always have done over the years.

We never for one minute imagined that this was to be our last ever picnic as a family of six.

Thank God for modern technology such as mobile phones that enable such moments to be captured.

They are for ever preserved in our hearts, of course.