The Girl’s Brigade District Parade

The Girl’s Brigade District Parade

“Are you able to go to our Girl’s Brigade annual district parade on Sunday?”

That’s all she said; a seemingly harmless, innocuous question, but in an instant I was in tears. Crash! The next wave of grief had caught me completely off guard.

Up until that moment I was basking in the glow from the lovely day out I’d had with my youngest the day before.

Mother’s Day had been bearable too – a chance comment from our pleasant dinner guest had caused me to realise that I could now bake sponge pudding without becoming distressed – a task that would have felt impossible six months ago.

Maybe I was actually beginning to make progress? Maybe there is light at the end of this interminably long tunnel?

Just one tiny innocent question from our Girl’s Brigade Captain and the memories had come flooding back. I was transported in my mind back to Sunday 24th March ’13 when I last took part in our annual GB district parade along with our two younger daughters.

The service was in Magheramason Presbyterian Church. Leah belonged to a different Girl’s Brigade company to Miriam and I. Miriam sat near me and Leah sat off to my right with her GB Company, still in my line of vision.


Leah was anaemic and tired easily but never admitted defeat, she had been unwell since before Christmas.

Later that evening she went to Youth Fellowship at our church and recorded her I AM SECOND testimony.

The next day, Monday 25th March, Leah travelled to the Royal Sick Children’s Hospital in Belfast for her first bone marrow biopsy. Her dad and his two sisters accompanied her. I went to my work because I said that I never wanted to have to set foot in a Children’s Cancer Ward, or ever see boys and girls with nasogastric tubes and chemotherapy hair loss.

Our haematologist had told us that they were 95% sure that they wouldn’t find anything sinister in Leah’s bone marrow – that they were only doing this definitive test to put everyone’s mind at rest, for once and for all………

Sometimes this business of grieving reminds me of that ridiculously repetitive song that we used to sing on long bus journeys as children:

The bear went over the mountain
The bear went over the mountain
The bear went over the mountain
And what do you think he saw

He saw another mountain
He saw another mountain
He saw another mountain
And what do you think he did

The bear went over the mountain etc etc

I’m so thankful that Leah recorded that short I Am Second testimony – I love the part at the end where she says

“God will let you bend but He’ll never let you break.”

Sometimes I just have to hang on to that.