My baby asked for a shopping trip this week. She’s 11 and has never liked being referred to as “my baby”.
My Mum referred to me as her baby until dementia robbed her of her faculties a few years before her death in 2008. I liked this term of endearment.
Miriam and I both tried on shoes in New Look and then she tried on clothes in Primark.
Since Leah was a toddler she absolutely loved shopping and would never have allowed us to go shopping without her.
We still find ways to include her – we went to the gardening section in one of the Pound Shops and Miriam chose some items for Leah’s grave.
On this occasion Miriam chose a solar powered butterfly and a dragonfly. She also picked a shepherds crook (with a butterfly inset), on which we can hang things, like sun catchers.
I was glad when she chose a shepherd’s crook – it reminded me of the the 23rd Psalm and the Good Shepherd.
When the shops had closed up for the night, we headed over to the cemetery to place our purchases on Leah’s grave.
I suppose there was a time when visiting a cemetery in the dark would have seemed like a scary thing to do. Not now though – how could the place where we left the body of our beloved Leah ever seem scary?
We arranged our purchases with the light from the torch on Miriam’s mobile phone. Then we talked about the view and commented on the attractive variety of solar lights/decorations on some of the nearby graves. Surprisingly, it feels quiet and peaceful in the cemetery at night.
After this it was time for the obligatory trip to McDonald’s.
Inwardly I reflected on the fact that it’s two years this past week since our very first visit to Belfast City Hospital.
Two years since we left behind the familiarity of our local hospital and faced all that was new and scary and unfamiliar.
Two years since a doctor we had only just met, told us things about our daughter’s diagnosis and prognosis that no parent ever wants to hear.
His phone call the previous week had told us that Leah needed a bone marrow transplant, but by the time we’d finished our face to face meeting with him, it seemed as if it was actually a miracle that our daughter needed.
For weeks afterwards a little voice inside my head kept saying “This is too much.” and another voice would quickly respond “But He is enough – God will get you through this.”
On Tuesday the 24th April ’13, before we left the house to go to Belfast City Hospital, I posted on my Facebook page, some words from one of Matt Redman’s songs that was so special to Leah and I:
“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes”
When we arrived home that evening my heart was breaking.
I wrote underneath my earlier Facebook status that if I didn’t have God in my life to help me, I certainly wouldn’t have the strength to still be singing.