Your definition of hope, my definition of hope…

“Hope” – noun

  • a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
  • a feeling of trust

“Hope” – verb

  • want something to happen or be the case

Today I answered a question when submitting content for a book, What is your definition of hope? No-one has asked me this question, nor have I spoken of hope. This word has peppered so many conversations since William died, but never mentioned by myself, because what do I hope for? Honestly, I hope that when I close my eyes tonight, it is for the last time. That when I wake it is with William.

My desire to be with William constantly squares up to the pain that I feel. A daily battle, there is no choice, there is no mercy, no resolve. The only desire I have is for William to be here with me. My life dictated by this desire, some days the hope of not waking for another day over-rides the pain, the hope that tomorrow might not happen. Other days, the pain paralyses me in its unforgiving grip. You see, the only desire i have, will never happen, not ever. Stripped of this desire leaves me with nothing apart from the hope that tomorrow is the first day of my eternal life with William.

Have you tried to live without hope? It doesn’t matter what I have in my life, a good man, a good job, wonderful family and friends, the list is endless, but it’s not William, my son, my world, my life. There is nothing that I wouldn’t sacrifice including my own life to give William his, to give him the chance to breathe, to love, to grow, to learn, to live the life that we gave him. Everything pails into insignificance, there are no variable factors, there is nothing that I would rather have in my life than the opportunity to be with William. I am focusing on William’s Legacy, I am busy, I do work, I am fundraising, I am doing my degree, but these are not reasons to stay here, these are not hope. They are part of a life that I have been left with, not by choice, but forced upon me.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is I would like you to try to understand the difference between your hope and the hope of a bereaved parent.

You hope that your child will sleep through the night so you can get a few hours sleep. I hope that I don’t sleep, because sleep induces nightmares of the day that I found William  in his cot, never to wake again.

You hope you’re doing the right thing, the guilt that disciplining your child brings. I hope that William doesn’t blame me, I hope he doesn’t wonder why I couldn’t save him, the burden of guilt I carry, a heavy weight around my neck, always.

You hope that your child’s first day of school goes smoothly, hope they will be full of smiles when they greet you at the end of the school day. I hope that one day I will get to actually see my child again, hope that I get to see William with my own eyes.

You hope that as your child grows up, makes friends, becomes more independent, that they return to you when they need a hug. I hope that one day I will be able to hold my baby again, physically, be able to smell him, to touch him and to never have to ever let go.

You hope that when your child has flown the nest, you secretly hope they have washing they need to bring home so you get to see them, hope they come home for a meal. I hope that William will be waiting for me, when I arrive in Heaven.

Hope for me is defined as being relieved of the sheer pain that emanates from my heart daily, but knowing this will never happen until I am with my baby again. Hope is that one day people will understand William isn’t replaceable, I don’t want another child, I want the child I had. Hope is that there is more understanding and compassion in a world that can feel so harsh and isolating.

Hope is knowing that one day, I will close my eyes and when I open them, I am with my forever child. I hang onto this. This is my only hope, and I hope that day is tomorrow.

A Children’s Book Dedicated to William

Me and my boy xx

Me and my boy xx

Well, these last few weeks, months have not only been extremely hard to deal with emotionally, with so many investigations taking place, and the conclusion of those next week, I have been trying to focus on fundraising.

Well I am working with Ron Taylor who is a director, writer and editor, and used to work with the BBC and Channel 4, to create an eBook of children’s illustrations in William’s memory. The eBook will be available on iBook, Amazon etc and we hope to have it published in January. The ISBN number has been registered so it is official!!

A little about the book

The book will be made up of 50 illustrations all donated by 50 wonderful and well-known illustrators such as Patrick Brooks, Paula Shapland and Nick Sharratt (Nick created the Tracy Beaker illustrations), you can find the full list here. All coming together to create an interactive eBook of colourful images for children under 9. Each page will have an interactive balloon (William’s favourite), the reward for finding each balloon will be perhaps farmyard animal noises, a train noise, and on one special balloon, a video of William. Also included will be photos of William and a foreword written by me. All of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the UK Sepsis Trust. Ron Daniels CEO of the Sepsis Trust will also be writing an introduction to the book, and how it has come about.

The book of course will be dedicated to William, and made in his memory. The book will cost only 99p with all proceeds being donated to the UK Sepsis Trust. I really hope that all of you will buy a copy or two and for only 99p who can argue!!

You can visit a preview of the book by clicking on this link.

You all know that on the 27th November it will be William’s second birthday, we could not let it pass without organising something special for our precious little boy. We decided, as William’s favourite toy to play with was balloons we would hold a balloon release, the balloons and all material will of course be biodegradable. Well, we set up a Facebook Page to invite our friends and family and well, we’ve had so much interest, we are now holding it in a public park, with a raffle and auction too!! If you would like to come along to William’s birthday balloon release it will be held on Saturday 28th November in Boscawen Park, Truro, Cornwall, at 1pm. I know that there are so many of you that live all around the world, but if you would like to be involved, we would love for you to release a balloon or 2 for William on his birthday and send us a photo. We are asking a minimum of £1 per balloon with all proceeds going to the UK Sepsis Trust via William’s Legacy Just Giving Page.

As there has been so much interest we decided to hold a raffle, and we have had some wonderful prizes donated from local businesses.

Not only have we had some wonderful prizes donated for the raffle, we’ve been given some substantial prizes for an auction too, these I will be starting in an online auction on my Facebook / Twitter accounts, where you will be able to post your highest bid. Prizes for the auction include:

  • Ipad Mini
  • Signed George Ford England Rugby Shirt (this must not be re-auctioned or sold on)
  • 1 night stay in the Executive Suite at The Alverton Manor Hotel, including dinner and breakfast.
  • Champagne afternoon tea for two at St Michael’s Hotel, Falmouth
  • Limited edition high quality prints from Ayub, photographer from Amin Art, known for his nature and wildlife photography including images of David Attenborough, amongst others.

The money we have raised so far has included a bake sale from the office team at Standard Life, raising £420, a figure that will be matched by Standard Life! Worldwide Financial Planning (where I work) will be match funding up to £1,000. Along with the raffle, auction and donations for balloons we hope to raise a significant sum for the UK Sepsis Trust, all part of William’s Legacy.

We really hope you are able to support us on the day, but if you’re not, we’d love to send you some balloons for a donation for William’s birthday, and of course if you are not able to make it, you can join in the online auction, and buy William’s children’s eBook when it is released in the New Year.

If there is anyone out there, that would like to donate any raffle or auction prizes they would be gratefully received, or anyone that would like to match fund what we raise, please get in touch.

And, thank you, so far including gift aid, over £7,700 has been raised in William’s memory.

50 days until you have been gone a year, how is that possible?

1 year ago today xxx

1 year ago today xxx

One year ago today since I placed you on my shoulders for the first time. One year ago that you burrowed your tiny fingers into my hair. One year ago today that I placed you on my shoulders for the last time.

It is 50 short days since you have been gone a year. That’s 315 days, 7,560 hours, 453,600 minutes and 27,216,000 seconds that I have lived in the pain of losing you. 315 days since life swam through your veins. 315 days since mummy’s heart lost its beat. I wondered the other day what it was like before you were born, if this is what it was like but I couldn’t even imagine what life was like without you in it. It is so cruel that you were here and then you were gone. As the evenings draw in, darker and darker, it is a constant reminder of ‘that’ time of year. The time of year that was supposed to be filled with your impatient birthday countdown, followed quickly by the Christmas countdown, but I will never get to buy you an advent calendar, I will never be able to sit and help you to write a letter to Father Christmas with your wish list of crazy presents, taking you to the post box and lifting you up so you could post your first letter. I will never see the excitement on your face on Christmas morning, and you will never see the excitement on mummy’s face on Christmas morning, drinking you in, knowing you are the only present mummy would ever need. Instead I am left counting down the days until your second birthday, our first birthday without you. We only ever had one birthday, your first, and your last. How is that fair? How is it fair, that we tried so hard for so long to have you in our life, and then, in a heartbeat you were gone.

As each day gives way to the night, I look up at the stars, memories seeping from veins, the words my heart cannot speak escape from my eyes, my face stinging with the remnants of another moment lost in time, a moment in my life that feels like a lifetime. My body feels so heavy, laden down with grief, pain and the fear of the unknown, but equally as weightless, serving no purpose, floating through every day like a feather in the wind. I have no place without you. In 9 days time mummy will sit down and listen to what went wrong, NHS England will explain to me what modifiable factors were involved in your death. Knowing that you would have lived, you would still be here with me now had mistakes not been made. If it’s even possible it’s harder knowing that you died from something that if caught early enough could be treated, like when we took you to the doctors. It hurts to know that we took you to the doctors so many times, but pneumonia was allowed to manifest in your tiny little body. My mind is stuck in reverse, desperately clawing at a moment in time that I cannot replace, but need to. I want to crawl back in time and scream from the rooftops what was wrong with you, I need someone to listen, I need someone to know that it is me that knows you. Your mum, your everything, my everything.

I miss you. I miss all the little moments we shared, I miss your bed hair, I miss trying to convince you to take the toothbrush out of your mouth. I miss you cheeky little smile when you heard your toast pop up. I miss being your mum, I miss dropping you off at nursery and I miss picking you up, seeing the smile erupt on your face when you saw me. I miss wondering what you would be doing when I’m at work. Sitting eating a packet of crisps when you’d be having risotto or roast beef. I miss knowing that I was doing everything I could to give you the best start in life. I miss seeing the look of accomplishment on your face when you clapped your hands, I miss sitting on the sofa with you in my arms, drunk on milk, snuggled into my neck, knowing that I really shouldn’t let you sleep on me knowing I’d have to wake you when you went to bed, but letting you do it anyway. I miss being happy, I miss that feeling, the feeling of knowing you would always be there. I miss me, I miss being mummy, I miss life, I miss life with you, because nothing compares. There is absolutely nothing in this world that compares to you. Your arms were the most precious jewels around mummy’s neck.

You were my salvation, you are my salvation, my love for you will, I know reach heaven, because it can reach round corners, twists and turns, it is no illusion, it sees through any object, it is palpable, it is tangible. It is transcendental.

The strength of a bereaved parent, the strength of friends

When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million, empty words…

Since William passed away I have lost count of how many well wishers imparted their advice that Paul and I need to be strong for each other, all said with a kind and heavy heart. But those who have lost a child will know, this is almost impossible. It is an uphill struggle to tread water let alone try to support anyone through their grief, this may sound selfish, but it’s really not. We have lost the same little person, the bomb that exploded in our lives left no prisoners. How, when I constantly resist the urge to join William can I support Paul? How can Paul when he is devoured by grief even begin to imagine trying to prop me up in the process. The most we can do is simply be ‘there’. We support each other, we are there when the other falls. When one crumbles the other crumbles, both consumed by an avalanche of what if’s, searching desperately for the answers. Grief affects everyone differently, everyone reacts to it differently, and everyone is on their own journey.

I have found solace with other bereaved parents, those that truly understand what the definition of strength is. Day to-day, strength for a bereaved parent can be defined as getting out of bed, maybe taking a shower, eating when you really don’t want to.Opening the mail and paying that bill that really is no longer relevant. But, real strength is holding your child for the last time and knowing it will be the last time you ever hold their perfect little being, the last time you will ever place a lingering kiss on their flawless skin. Strength is placing them in their forever bed and closing the lid, knowing that you will never touch them again, never see them, or be in their presence.

Strength is having to pick a beautiful coffin, when this is the absolute last task you ever want to do but knowing it has to be absolutely perfect, beautiful and comfortable. Strength is carrying your child into his own funeral knowing you will never feel the weight of him in your arms again. Strength is going to the crematorium and collecting your child’s ashes. So small, so light, in a bag you carry your child to the car, not to put him in his car seat but to hold him on your lap, not taking your eyes of this tiny little box that contains what remains of your precious child. Strength is battling for months and months for those involved in your child’s death to apologise, but knowing that until that happens you have to fight until there is no fight left. Strength is putting one foot in front of the other when the last place you want to be is walking this Earth without your child.

There is no-one stronger that walks this Earth than a parent that has lost a child, whether that be a child lost during those months of pregnancy, whether it be a baby born sleeping, an infant like William, or a child that you have watched grow into the most amazing person, and there is nothing stronger than the friendship between two bereaved parents. That one person you meet in the most excruciating circumstances, but that one person that understands, that just knows. Knows that when you are feeling desperate, they know just what to say, that what they say comes from the same painful experience. I have spoken to many bereaved parents and I always will. It is a world I knew was there but I never knew just how many are affected.

So, to those bereaved parents out there, and to one person in particular who I think I’d be lost without, not only do I share your pain but I share your strength, and when you wobble, you can have some of my strength. I admire your courage to keep going for your little boy, the little boy who lost his beautiful little brother. Many will say “I don’t know how you do it, I don’t know how I’d cope.” I’ve heard this many times, but it really doesn’t help, somehow it makes me feel that I’m coping when I shouldn’t be. We don’t know how we do it, we don’t know how we cope, or even that we are coping. We have no choice, but I do know that we wouldn’t cope without each other. So I know that when you, my friend take your little sidekick to the soft play area, you’re doing it because your strength is insurmountable; but I’m not fooled, to watch one child play rather than two creates a pain so palpable I can feel it. I share your pain, I know THE pain, I don’t know your pain, but know that I’m here when there are few people who can really say the right thing. Thomas is an absolute credit to you, and he will be so proud of you, as am I, always.

Dearest friend please know you can do the impossible because you have been through the unimaginable.



The power of a memory

The most captivating smile xxx

The most captivating smile xxx

If a smile could say a thousand words, then this would be it. The smile that has taken my breath away so many times, and continues to do so even as I write this. Even more so because this smile was for me. Those magical deep brown eyes sparkling through those long lashes just for his mummy. How can he be gone? I remember that day, we had just finished getting ready to go and feed the ducks, still on maternity leave we spent every day in each others company, I could think of no better place to be. Grumpus had just taken his socks off, and I had given in and relented, giving him the remote control, fascinated with the buttons I managed to put his socks on successfully, and his shoes, and for those who know Grumpus this was an achievement. It didn’t last long, as soon as I started the car, I heard the familiar sound of velcro ripping, followed by a gentle thud as one shoe, closely followed by the other would make contact with the floor. By the time I had reversed out of the drive I would catch sight of him in the mirror playing with his socks. Did I mind? No. Did I find it funny? Yes. My smile so full of pride I would turn to be met with a smile just as big. These were the moments, single moments in time that remain imprinted in my mind. Grumpus was so much fun. A beautiful soul inside and out.  The power of this memory is spell-binding. It leaves me crippled with tears. Tears of joy that I was blessed to experience them, but tears of complete despair that I will never experience this again, this is all it will ever be, a powerful memory.

Just as powerful and equally as crippling is that moment, THE moment, the single moment in time, one single moment that my life came crumbling down to my feet. As much as I am reminded of those precious memories I am plagued with the one that took it all away. As deep as William’s smile is imprinted in my mind, the moment I found him dead is just as deep. If the call handler of that 999 call stood in a crowd of a thousand people, with my eyes closed, I could pick her out. How she remained calm whilst I screamed hysterically down the phone at her, is a job I do not envy, was she traumatised when she ended the call, after being told ‘life was extinct’, yes. She is human, she will remember that call just as vividly as I do. As William laid on the floor by my knees in front of me, I placed the heel of my hand just above where I felt his ribs join, and I followed her instructions “….and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4….rescue breath 1…..rescue breath 2…..and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4….” and it continued for an agonising 3 minutes and 44 seconds. Every second that I watched the digits change on the phone display 3:40, 3:41, 3:42 I felt my life slipping away, the paramedics came thundering up the stairs, I continued CPR to the call handlers steady rhythm, 3:43, 3:44 then the paramedics took over. A mask was placed over William’s mouth and the I could see the paramedic feeling for a pulse in William’s neck as he squeezed the breathing bag, desperately trying to get oxygen into my baby. The sleeping bag William had spent his last night in had been pulled off, his little vest cut off, the second paramedics hands reached round each side of his chest securing pressure, his thumbs compressed William’s chest with so much force, over and over and over, until he stopped. The paramedics took one glance at each other, and I knew. As the paramedic removed his hands from William’s chest I screamed, he turned over his left shoulder, gasping for breath amongst screams, I was delivered the most powerful memory ever to be imprinted in my mind “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone.” Perhaps the most powerful words ever spoken to me. A power of a memory, a definitive moment in time, the power that has to change your life is quite astonishing.

I had only ever heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the news. I never really understood what it was, I certainly never understood how debilitating it is, it has left me completely defenseless; powerless to act against by body’s own mechanism to remember, to visualise, to relive that moment. It leaves me crippled unable to function. Unable to circumvent the most harrowing moment of my life. It doesn’t matter how much time passes, I still remember this memory as much as I remember the beautiful memory of his smile. I don’t get to pick which memory I will be thinking about at any given moment. All it takes is to hear someone say ‘1’ and the 2 and 3 and 4 shortly follow in my mind. My whole mind and body transported back in time, I have no choice but to process that moment all over again.

I am completely at the mercy of my mind. Whatever memory pops into my head is how my day will go. The mind is the most powerful tool we have, but it is so very dangerous. It captures every memory, not just the most amazing and captivating ones, but also the most painful, enduring ones. I don’t get a choice. To know this much pain is to know this much love. All consuming, in everything I do.