Written during my late daughter’s lifetime :
Shall we arise late this next Sunday morning
In the time-honoured way parents do?
Shall we lie snug and warm in our big double bed
Half-listening the sound of your hesitant tread
And the peep round the door of your golden-curled head
Before clambering in with us too?
Shall we go down to egg-dipped toast soldiers
Your small hand in mine down the stairs?
To a kitchen alive with your three-year-old patter,
To a garden a-song with the birds’ chirp and chatter,
In the lull before lawnmowers grumble and clatter
At the on-set of Sunday’s affairs?
I would it were so
But it can’t be, I know
For my darling knows nothing
Mum will carry you downstairs as usual
In the small hours that are still part of night,
Knowing we face yet another long day
Of hoping the food that you’ve taken will stay
That you’ll grow that bit stronger, keep infection at bay,
In this wearying round of life’s fight.
For my darling’s not like other children,
Almost lost to us once without warning,
Cannot walk, cannot talk can’t our Treasure,
And Fate stole her sight for good measure,
Yet no-one will know greater pleasure
Than we, when she smiles, Sunday morning.
“I don’t know how you can cope.”
They stood by my daughter’s hospital cot and shook their heads. Parents/carers with their own children receiving attention, some for epilepsy, some for infections, some for bone breakages or burns.
She was massively handicapped, had a cocktail of problems that nothing, in the end, but death could cure, and our hearts were broken.
Down in the waiting room, the one place you could smoke then, I listened to a woman rant at her husband about the delay they were having, waiting for a medic to get back to them about her daughter’s broken arm.
A broken arm? Part of me thought. Jesus, what’s that?
And then it struck me. This was her child. There was no scale of bad-to-terrible for her, it just hurt, and hurt and hurt.
She wasn’t making an unnecessary fuss. She was simply grieving.