Today it's been 5 years since my brother lost his fight against the brain tumour in his head. The night before I had been so happy, his son had been born on the Saturday and whilst he hadn't been well enough to be there, we were hoping that his wife and son would be home on the Monday and he'd meet his son. However in the early hours of Monday 8th May 2006, he slipped away peacefully in his sleep. Whilst he never did get to hold his son, he did at least know that he had been born and that had made him happy. Losing my brother changed me - in ways I can't really explain, all I know is, I am different to the person I was before he died.
This week a friend of mine had her life changed forever in one of the cruelest possible ways. Her son William, who was soon to be 3, didn't wake up. He hadn't been ill, though he'd been under investigations as it was thought he had epilepsy. They'd been on holiday and the day before they'd spent the day at the beach and he had thoroughly enjoyed playing in the sand, and chasing a beach ball. It is wonderful that his last day was so happy and carefree with his parents and older sister, and I am sure that those memories will bring comfort as well as pain in the days, weeks and years ahead.
I know William's mum, through an online community. Some people might fight it strange that I keep sobbing for William...after all I never met him. I have met his Mum but never his Dad or older sister. However the nature of the online community means it felt like I knew him, like I knew him almost as well as I knew my "real life" friends. I know I'm not alone in feeling like this - the whole community has been shocked. Many of us have children of similar ages, we've debated the SIDS guidelines, the appropriate weaning foods, breastfeeding, co-sleeping etc. It's seems trite to say it, but things like this don't happen to people you know but unfortunately that's just not true. Many members of the online community are buying and planting Sweet William, in his memory. A memory that should always be kept alive.
This week I have had times where I got cross with one of the girls for leaning on me, for not leaving me alone, for not going to sleep when they should, for not getting dressed quickly enough. I have worried about money and stressed over housework. When I read the news from my friend on Friday, all I wanted to do was gather the girls in my arms. I know I am not alone, in checking more frequently on the girls when they are sleeping. Life was thrown into perspective in a very harsh way.
I can't help William's Mum and family, I can't ease their pain. I can't begin to understand how they feel at the moment, though some feelings might be familiar to me, grief is different for everyone. Today I shall be spending time with my parents and my sister, and with our children. We will be lighting a candle for David, my brother and I shall light a candle for William. Take a moment today, to appreciate what you have - give someone a hug, tell someone you love them, smile.
RIP William, you will be missed x