For part one, please click here.
But I didn’t know. You were only ten. You were looking forward to going to the big school in the autumn, to being in the school play and travelling on the Inter City up to London with me and your friend for your birthday treat.
You weren’t supposed to get ill. You weren’t supposed to know about suffering and pain. You should have been having fun without a care in the world. Not lying in a hospital bed with wires the whole spectrum of the rainbow hanging out of you.
It was a Saturday when it happened. You and Katie had come home after your gymnastics class. You always gave me a kiss on the cheek, but you didn’t that day. You walked straight past me and up the stairs to your room. Katie must have seen the look on my face because she didn’t follow you.
‘She’s not feeling right,’ she told me, ‘she couldn’t even do a forward roll this morning. She kept saying her head hurt.’
I knew it was serious. I just didn’t want to believe it. I fetched some lemonade and Jaffa cakes from the larder and put them on your favourite tray, Jenny. The one with the mother and her kitten. Katie took them up to you and I listened to every tread on the stair and the foot, edging your door open.
It was as if I had been waiting for the tray to crash to the floor. I found myself standing in your room as if no time had passed at all. You looked so peaceful lying there on the floor with your long hair framing your face. I looked at you then and I could see that beautiful woman you would one day grow into. But you weren’t going to, were you, Jenny? You were going to be taken away from me. I knew that straight away.
Katie screamed. I had forgotten she was still there. She couldn’t stop screaming and I found myself joining her. The paramedics found us like that, with our arms round one another, rocking back and forth. I always thought I was strong. I thought I could get through anything. But it’s different with a child. You were my world, Jenny.
It took me a while to understand what the doctors were saying. ‘She’s had a brain haemorrhage…’
But children didn’t have brain haemorrhages, not just like that. The doctor was so kind. He hated telling me that sadly, children did. He told me he had operated, but it didn’t look good. He thought that I should prepare myself for the worst. He said it wouldn’t be long before you slipped away, that it would be for the best as the extent of damage to the brain would be devastating.
Part three next week