Yesterday I went to Caiden’s wake in Ballymena.
There he was, lying on his bed, dressed in his Batman suit.
The last time I met Caiden he looked very unwell. Now he looked so perfect. His silky black hair had grown back. His skin was clear like porcelain. His facial expression was so peaceful.
For Caiden there will be no more chemotherapy or radiotherapy, no more graft vs host disease, no more special diets, no more oxygen cannulas, central lines and nasogastric tubes, no more pain.
For Caiden’s mum, dad, sister, Granda, aunts, uncles, extended family & friends, there is grief and heartache. Grief is the pain that goes on hurting.
For those who loved Caiden there will be forever a Caiden shaped hole in their hearts and in their lives.
I woke this morning feeling surprisingly strong. As I prepared to go to work, my daily Bible readings brought me comfort.
However as I drove down the road I noticed two little girls in fancy dress waiting on the school bus. In front of them was a proud Granda taking photographs of them.
That’s when my emotional floodgates opened and my heart just broke afresh.
I thought of Caiden lying so peaceful and so still in his Batman outfit.
I remembered my own little girl, once six years old, innocently climbing the steps of the school bus dressed as Tinkerbell, hair in two plaits, looking as cute as can be.
Leah just loved to dress up, mostly as a princess. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer as a little girl invariably used to be “a princess”.
I corrected her one day and said “But Leah you have to work at something.” She immediately replied “No mummy, princesses don’t work.” I couldn’t answer that one.
As a teenager one of Leah’s favourite books was one that describes our relationship with God as that of a princess with a king – His Princess Girl Talk with God: Love Letters and Devotions for Young Women by Sheri Rose Shepherd.
Leah used to photocopy her favourite pages from this book and stick them into a notebook in which she recorded verses and sayings that encouraged her. Here’s an excerpt from Leah’s notebook:
Somehow, our little girl was right – she never did grow up to work at paid employment.
At the age of 16 she became a forever princess, worshipping the King of Kings.