This post is not what I’d planned. The last two weeks were not what I’d planned.
I started writing a post a week and a half ago…a poignant prelude to the date in June which creeps up insidiously every year. The 11th. My daughter Lily’s anniversary.
The post is still half written in draft and I just tried to finish it but can’t. Maybe I will finish it.
But not yet.
In June I try to give myself some space. To think, to write, to remember, to feel, to connect, to plan a quiet meaningful day for the family.
But then Tansy started being sick.
And then sick some more, and more, and more for day after day every time she sat up or moved.
My three boys left on an annual men’s camp on Dartmoor…in the rain, thinking she had a bad bug.
I was feeding her teaspoons of home made raw goat milk yoghurt, slippery elm gruel with banana, chamomile tea, an electrolyte mix of salt and honey…..
It was just me and Tansy in our cabin, in the rain.
I don’t usually go to the doctors, I will, if needed, but I love to treat my kids with herbs, healing foods, rest, massage, hot teas and sofas by the fire…it usually does the trick.
She was sleeping more and more and so thin.
I carried her to the doctors in my arms in torrential rain. She was sick.
We were referred immediately to hospital for tests.
I carried her in my arms across the hospital car park in the pouring rain. She was sick.
We were there a week.
Level 12, the children’s ward in a side room. High above the city in a little white room far from our woods, far from herbs and healing foods.
Five terrifying hours waiting to go for a brain scan.And get the results.
She lay flat in the bed barely moving or speaking and I carried her to the toilet twice a day and she was sick.
In those five hours I wondered what was going on with my daughters. I cried, I crocheted furiously, I looked across the grey rooftops of the vast hospital complex and wondered why, on Lily’s anniversary I was in the same hospital I came to in an air ambulance three years ago. Would I lose another daughter? Why was I not being allowed to have my girls? My mind created all the horror it possibly could and stirred it into an evil brew of fear, terror and sorrow.
The consultant caught me in the corridor.
The scan was clear.
She has a non permanent neurological condition which makes her lose her balance and coordination and vomit when she is upright. It gets better.. quite slowly.
And she did start slowly, to get better. She started to smile. And talk…quite slowly and deliberately as if she was tasting the words for the first time in her mouth . She smiled more, to compensate for lack of words..lovely melting smiles when she wanted another oatcake..or some purple bedsocks from the hospital shop. And she was so hungry…even for hospital food. Really.
We learned that she could eat sucessfully if she lay down and didn’t move for an hour afterwards. Then she started to sit up without keeling over…..
And then she stood up, shakily…
And so it goes..we are now home and things are the same and things are different. She is walking like a gigantic toddler, falling without warning, dashing towards me in a little rush to reach my arms before she topples. I have to watch her. All the time.
Everyone is adjusting to mum being around again..I’m not often away… but in some ways it’s been a gift.
Apart from the terror of those days when she was really ill and I imagined the worst, I found that I could do nothing for a change. I couldn’t go far….a run up and down the hospital stairs two or three times a day to buy a newspaper or some fruit, and then more sitting in the little white room. I looked out of the window, I crocheted, I read, and as Tansy started to improve we just hung out together. We don’t ever get to do this. Just us two. I noticed things about her I hadn’t noticed before. We laughed at how you can tell who was approaching by their shoes….doctors clip clop and nurses trudge in soft soled shoes. We commiserated at the hourly checks on her drip all through the night. It wasn’t all bad.
And as always it was love that kept us going….messages from friends..little cards, offers of food, kindly nurses, other parents on the ward. It is very easy, even after what happened to our family three years ago, to become wrapped up in the material rush and grab of our lives, to forget, to think that all our little daily worries are important.
Again we’ve been set back on our heels and shown another way forward. Time to reflect, time to face fear and loss in the face and see their sharp teeth, time to slide between the teeth and find the connection to others. Time to feel the love of neighbours, friends and family. The time to support a mother weeping because her daughter was moaning in pain after surgery, time to share stories with another bereaved parent over coffee in the ward kitchen.
That’s what I learned. There is time for that. Time for each other.
And that’s what’s important.