The Empty Chair

The Empty Chair

On the eleventh of November 2013 Horace, Rachel, Leah and I went to IKEA in Belfast to buy some bits and pieces for our new house. Leah wasn’t allowed in public places because of her immunity, but IKEA that Monday morning was almost deserted, so we felt that it was safe for her to come with us. Leah loved shopping.

Ikea trip

It was a challenge to fit both the people and all the purchases into our car afterwards, but my husband is amazing when it comes to packing the car. It comes from years of practice being married to a woman who doesn’t ‘travel light’!

packed car after Ikea

Amongst the items we bought were six folding kitchen chairs. Why did we need six? Because, in 2013, we were a family of six – two parents and four children.

Now, unless we have visitors, one of those kitchen chairs remains folded, unused, in our Utility Room.Folded chair Now that it’s December, we are once again in the season when for many families there is a heightened awareness of the empty chair.

Along with our awareness of an empty chair, we will have Leah’s eighteenth birthday on New Year’s Eve and the second anniversary of her final hospitalisation and her death in December/January.

This morning I read a blog post by John Pavlovitz and he says it better than I could in his recent blog post entitled Holidays and Empty Chairs: 

“The holidays are a time for recognizing our profound fullness, of purposefully dwelling on the abundant overflow we find ourselves in and being grateful.

Our houses and our bellies bulge to capacity and we gleefully overindulge in food and friends and laughter. We fill ourselves to bursting with all the things and the people that make life glorious and make the pain bearable.

This is a season where we inventory our lives and readily acknowledge all that is good and sweet and right.

It is about celebrating presence.

But not for you. Not right now.”

Click HERE to go to his blog and read the rest of this post.


Diagnosis of PCP

Diagnosis of PCP

Written in the Cancer Centre.
Leah’s chest infection has been confirmed as PCP – a type of pneumonia that only occurs in people who are immunocompromised.
 She’s on continuos oxygen and is on intravenous antibiotics and is back on steroids and is being regularly reviewed by her own Dr and by the ICU Dr in case she needs more intensive support.
If her condition stabilises our Dr hopes to be able to transfer Leah to Altnagelvin, our local hospital, early in the week.
This hospital we are in is approximately 70 miles from home.
Tuesday is Leah’s 16th birthday and the 1st anniversary of when this journey started – it was on her 15th birthday that Leah visited her GP and had a blood test taken which resulted in her being referred to a haematologist.
This led to 3 months of investigations & eventually we received a phone call in April telling us that Leah had paediatric myelodysplasia with monosomy 7 & needed a bone marrow transplant!
Prayer would be much appreciated for Leah’s speedy recovery please.