Occasionally I use Journaling prompts that I have downloaded and stuck into a notebook that I keep for this purpose. Today when I opened my notebook to do some journaling the prompt for today was “What song are you grateful for?”
However, instead of thinking of just one song I thought of many songs. Praise and worship music was a vital part of Leah’s illness journey for both her and I. Many times when we were lost for words, we listened to praise and worship music and we found that peace that passes all understanding.
I remember the first time that Leah developed neutropenic sepsis and I had to rush her to our local hospital. I was really scared, I think Leah and her boyfriend were frightened too. None of us spoke during the twenty minute journey to the hospital but we were comforted as we listened to the words of the praise and worship songs that Leah played on the CD player in the car.
During Leah’s illness journey and in the aftermath of her death I often felt so broken that I was unable to concentrate to pray coherently or to read my Bible. Praise and worship music became my means of communicating with God. My soul was stilled in His presence as I listened to our favourite songs.
After Leah died I put together an extensive playlist that I listened to almost continuously. I kept headphones beside the bed so that I could listen to these songs during the night without disturbing my husband. I played them in the car whilst driving and on any other occasion when I was alone. Some of these songs were ones that Leah and I had both loved, others were songs that friends had suggested to me to after had Leah died, the words of which really ministered to me.
I’ve changed phones a couple of times since then and was having difficulty accessing my original 2014 playlist, so I have recently recreated it on YouTube. There have of course been lots more playlists created since then, but on certain occasions such as Leah’s anniversary I like to reconnect with those songs that meant so much to me during her illness and immediately afterwards, when I felt so broken. Maybe this playlist of songs will minister to the heart of somebody who reads this post:
On Saturday 18th May ’13 Leah was admitted to the Sperrin Haematology/Oncology Adult Ward of our local hospital. She had Febrile Neutropenia and was immediately started on intravenous antibiotics – this condition can be fatal if not treated quickly.
By Sunday morning Leah was feeling much better and was sure that she would be able to sit her two GCSE modules the following day Monday 20th May. However when the consultant came round he said that she would not be allowed out of the hospital to sit her exams. When I queried him on this he replied “Mrs Whyte, this is a life threatening situation, have you not googled it?” I didn’t answer him – I didn’t need google to tell me that my child’s life was in danger. He spoke to the nurse and she reappeared a little while later with a computer printout regarding “febrile neutropenia” – otherwise known as “neutropenic sepsis” and how it could very quickly become fatal it not correctly handled.
I asked Leah what she wanted to do about her exams and she said that she wanted to sit them, so I said “that’s fine, it’s going to happen“. Inwardly I prayed for strength and wisdom. It was a Sunday morning and I didn’t have contact details for any of the staff in Limavady High School. I was also confined to the hospital with Leah as she didn’t like being left on her own and I didn’t like leaving her.
It’s a long story and various good people helped along the way, but eventually around 6pm Sunday evening I got speaking to Mr M, Leah’s Head of Year, a man who was a tower of strength and compassion throughout Leah’s illness journey. He promised to ring the exam board first thing Monday morning. I then informed the ward staff what we were hoping to arrange.
Monday morning the wonderful Mr M phoned to say that he had authorisation from the exam board for Leah to sit her two exams in the hospital that day. An invigilator was on his way from Limavady High School to the hospital in Derry/Londonderry with the exam papers – English Literature and Chemistry. I went to the nurses station to update them. They informed me that Leah wouldn’t be allowed to sit these exams without authorisation from her consultant and he was busy in clinic. There was considerable stress until the consultant could be contacted and brought to the ward to give his permission. Thankfully everything got sorted out.
Leah sat her exams in the ward sister’s office. It was the first time that a patient had ever sat GCSE modules on this ward. In August ’13 when Leah was in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Bristol, Mr M phoned us to say that Leah had got an ‘A’ in both of these exams. I immediately phoned the Sperrin Ward to let them know and to thank them for all of their help – Leah was always very well cared for on this ward.
This photo was taken in hospital at 9.30am on Monday 20th May 2013 while Leah was doing some last minute revision for her exams.