Wisdom Beyond Her Years

Wisdom Beyond Her Years

I’ve never enjoyed clothes shopping.

When my Mum was alive, she used to come with me when I had to buy clothes and we used to have fun shopping together.

In 2008 Mum died and that year I was traveling to London with my work to meet Prince Charles. This necessitated buying a new outfit. I went over town to go shopping, but ended up in floods of tears and came home empty handed.

Leah was ten years old at the time. She made me this lovely card when she heard what had happened – I found it tonight while looking for something else. My Mum was known as Kal.

This card left me in tears when Leah gave it to me in 2008, but that is NOTHING compared to the effect it’s had on me tonight since I found it again.

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Leah then offered to come shopping with me to help me pick an outfit. That following Saturday we went to Coleraine and got the complete outfit that I needed. From then on, Leah became my “personal shopper”.

In 2013, Leah and I ended up being in Bristol way longer than I had packed for, so I had to buy some new tops while I was over there. I used my phone to photograph the clothes in the shops, then I showed Leah the pictures and she advised me what to buy.


The last item of clothing that Leah ever picked for me is so precious. It was from M&S in Bristol.


Since Leah died, I struggle more with shopping than with anything else. Even today I sat in Tesco’s car park for 20 minutes before I could face into the store. I shop only out of necessity.

Facing people isn’t the issue – I enjoy meeting people.

It’s facing the shelves that’s the issue.

It’s never knowing when a strategically placed product will trigger a memory of a shopping trip with/for Leah and leave me completely undone.

When Leah had the haemorrhagic cystitis in Bristol, she had to have a high fluid intake of non fizzy drinks, so I scoured the shops for different drinks that she would like. I was so pleased with the variety that I had managed to buy for her on one particular trip, that when I got back to her hospital room, I lined them all up and took a photograph!


I know that I could avoid the shops completely now by shopping online, but then I don’t like running away from difficult situations either. It’s no way to live.

Leah’s words to me in this card just blow me away………..they are the words of a little girl who had surrendered her life to Jesus, who read her Bible every day and who prayed and sought to love God with her whole heart.

She had wisdom beyond her years at times.


Shopping has become so emotional

Shopping has become so emotional


This coming Sunday Horace, Rachel, Miriam and I are going to the N.I. Children’s Hospice for a pre-Christmas bereavement support day. It will be our first time to step inside the Children’s Hospice since Leah died there. The memorial service that we attended earlier this year did not actually take place in the Children’s Hospice, it was in a venue nearby.

The care provided by the Children’s Hospice does not stop once a child or young person dies. Their wonderful outreach nurse has visited us on a regular basis this past year and I’ve had several tearful telephone conversations with their lovely Social Worker.

She phoned me today and when she realised that I was in Tesco’s she was going to phone back. However I asked her to keep talking, as I was already in tears and I had been struggling to make it to the checkout with my groceries. By the time we had finished talking I was more composed and able to go and pay for my groceries.

I find shopping one of the single most difficult tasks since Leah died. Leah adored shopping and loved accompanying me on shopping trips. She regularly helped me choose my clothes. When Leah became ill and couldn’t come clothes shopping with me I took photos of the items that I was thinking of buying and she told me which items she thought were the nicest.

Grocery shopping is the worst – I usually end up in tears at some point and some weeks I don’t even manage to get groceries at all. It’s so hard to remember NOT to buy Leah’s favourite foods.

I love a bargain and the promotional displays still catch me off guard. I will reach for an item on special offer and put it in my trolley, only to realise with a jolt that the reason I am buying it is because Leah loved it. Then I rack my brain trying to remember if somebody else in the house likes the same item. Then slowly and sadly I replace it on the shelf and try to continue shopping, but it’s hard to read your shopping list when your vision is blurred with tears.

This time of year of course is harder still, with one less child to buy Christmas presents for. Leah’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve too so I have to keep reminding myself NOT to shop for her birthday either.

I used to say that Leah had a bit of “middle child syndrome” and that she needed to get twice as much as the others just to believe that she was getting the same amount. So if they had two birthday parties then she somehow got three parties. If they had two birthday cakes then she somehow or other got three – not all on the same day, of course.

We always have a big family get together on New Year’s Day, so every year we took a birthday cake to that and when Leah was younger she thought it was a big birthday party just for her. Leah felt a bit “deprived” having her birthday so close to Christmas so she used to get some extra wee treats to make it up to her.


Maybe you think that doing all my shopping online would be easier – for some people that would be a solution. Not for me, because with God’s strength I want to face the pain and work my way through it, not run from it.

No matter how hard it is to keep going, I believe that God is with me and that He will bring me through.