On Friday mornings I pack up my portable office and, with my laptop, mobile, pad and paper in hand I head off to ‘the office’ to get two or three hours of undisturbed work in. ‘The office’ being a local coffee shop with free wifi. As you can appreciate, things can get a little hectic indoors so, this gives me a block of time in which I can focus upon what needs to be focused upon.
Much as I appreciate having these hours, it never seems enough for the workload I have to contend with. Last Friday was a prime example of this. I returned home pleased with what I had achieved, yet with my mind racing over all I had yet to do.
I had so much to do. I had writers to deal with, a new job for a client in progress, one writer who had disappeared, another let go for plagiarism (don’t ask), and a third who became unavailable for the next few months. Oh, and did I mention the deadlines? We had deadlines. And bills. And we didn’t have enough hours in the day. I thought that Friday afternoon would find me immersed in playing catch-up before the weekend.
Isobel had fallen asleep propped up against the footstool. As I walked through the living room intending to settle on the computer, my head swimming with all I had to do, she dozily woke from her slumber and, with her eyes barely open, she whimpered and staggered over to me, arms outstretched. I sat down and caught her as she drowsily fell towards me and set myself back into the sofa as I scooped her into my lap.
She nestled her head into me and I watched her as her chest rose and fell with each soft breath she took. I studied her carefully as I sat with one arm wrapped around her, holding her tightly. She was noticably heavier than she once was; a toddler, not a baby any more. Her long, dark lashes brushing her face as her eyes everso-slightly flickered as she dreamt. I held her small, perfect hand in mine, savouring the softness it possessed. I smiled at the dimples on it, my smile fading as I realised that soon these sweet, childish dimples would turn into hard knuckles instead, signalling the inevitable change and growth that comes to us all.
I forgot about everything I had to do and just sat, savouring the moment and wishing it would last forever. I wished for a box that I could keep precious moments like that in for eternity, never losing them, never forgetting them.
This morning I woke and readied myself for a morning in ‘the office’. Before I packed away my laptop I scrolled through my Facebook timeline.
Then I stopped.
Tributes to my friend Lauren began filling my timeline.
Lauren and I met ten years ago, originally through an online ante-natal forum. She was beautiful, funny and feisty with it. You were lucky to be her friend because really, you didn’t want to be her enemy!
Lauren was in her twenties when she discovered she had cancer after the birth of her second child. She beat it, but this loathsome disease wouldn’t give up. It found her again, and this time it was determined.
Lauren put up a fight like I have never known anyone fight before. Her spirit was tough, her dogged determination unshakable. She had too much to live for to give it up willingly to a bastard disease.
At first, Lauren’s insurance covered the cost of the Avastin, the drug which would prolong her life and which her body responded well to. It gave her the opportunity to see many milestones in her two children’s lives which she very probably wouldn’t have otherwise been alive to see. Unfortunately, her insurance would only cover the cost of the treatment for a year and the NHS deemed that Lauren didn’t tick the correct boxes for her to receive funding.
Fundraising began through her website Lauren’s Marvellous Medicine and Lauren was grateful to everyone who helped her see her children for every extra day that she could. Tragically, Lauren’s body finally stopped responding and treatment was stopped.
Today heaven has another angel who will be looking over her husband John, and her two beautiful children, nine-year-old Ellie and seven-year-old Josh.
I sat for ages trying to think of something to write in tribute to Lauren. I wanted to mention her strength, her joy, her cheekiness and humour, her deep love for her family, but nothing seemed right. What can you say to two young children who have had their mother so cruelly snatched from their lives? Words are only that. They aren’t a mother’s hug, a mother’s voice, a mother’s love. That’s what these children need, not words. Sometimes words seem so… useless.
Lauren, you were an inspiration to everyone who followed your story, and if I had that box, I’d be sending it over to your family right now.
Sleep well, sweetheart. Sleep well.