One of our main roles as parents is to protect our children, carry the burden for them, keep them out of harms way.
But when it’s out of our hands, then what? You might think I’m going to talk about me protecting William. But actually the focus is on my mum and dad. How they as parents watched their daughter's world fall apart and change forever, and they couldn’t stop it from happening. They’ve watched daily as their child struggles, survives and exists to the best of her ability. She smiles for Max and Lewis when she doesn’t feel happy, and tries to carry on with normal life for them.
My family are close. The 4 of us. My mum, dad, brother and I, the Pott family. My dad is the most positive, happiest, generous man I know. If ever I was sad growing up, he’d make it his job to offer advice, support and give me a cuddle until I felt better. Within 24 hours of William being in Intensive care my dad said to me on the phone, ‘he’ll open his eyes, look up to the ceiling, and say 'light’ (his recent obsession was with lights). Once we knew he wasn’t going to make it, I remember thinking about that conversation, that even my dads positivity can’t save William, I desperately wanted it to.
My mum, my best friend and my safety blanket. Always with me, the most loving person and best mother and nana, someone I could talk to about anything. The woman I look up to, and my role model, I’ve always wanted to be the mother like she was/ is to me and my brother. Friends ask my mum, ‘how’s Hannah?’ And her answer is 'broken'. She knows there isn’t a word to describe how I am, but she tries. The number of times my parents just sit in silence with me as I can’t think of words to say, and they know their words can’t fix this, they can’t protect me from what has happened, but they can comfort me, and they’ll do anything within their power to make my days bearable.
Imagine as parents, getting a call from your daughter telling you that their grandchild was having a febrile seizure and the paramedics were trying to stop it? They could hear me crying, and the fear in my voice, yet they still remained strong for me.
Whilst Keith and I were by William’s hospital bed, they were at home ensuring Max and Lewis were happy, going to school and not missing us. They were putting on the bravest face whilst their hearts were breaking, worrying and praying for a miracle. Talk about digging deep, and finding strength that you never knew you had.
The moment we knew there was no coming back, the injuries were 'irreversible and catastrophic' (the consultants words… they're big words, not to be thrown around lightly) I had to call my parents and deliver that news. There are no words to describe how I felt telling them that! They broke for me, for Keith, for Max and Lewis, but mostly for William. Their precious, music loving grandson, who they’d cuddled 5 short hours before his seizure.
They came to London and saw me sat next to my dying baby in intensive care and knew what was about to happen. They’d have traded places in a heartbeat. As would Keith or I. But they had to say goodbye to William, cuddle me, and know the next time they saw me it would be without our baby.
They held me tight, as if they were transferring their strength into my body, and got on a train home in time to pick Max and Lewis up from school. That’s what incredible parents I have! Imagine going home and putting on that brave face for two little boys who thought their baby brother was going to be made better by the doctors in London? What they’ve gone through as parents and grandparents is beyond cruel, heart breaking and utterly tragic.
I know how they feel and the broken hearts they have, like mine that won’t, and can’t be filled. As a family when we get together, we will be...'Forever missing a piece'.
Thanks for reading,
The compassionate friend
Saying Goodbye (Zoe Clark-Coates)
Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood
Child Bereavement UK
Here is a link to useful books to help bereaved siblings.
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