I’ve become a mood sponge. Well, I’ve become Elodie’s mood sponge. If she wakes happy, and (rarest of rarities these days) feels rested, it lifts me into hopeful orbit.
Unfortunately, the converse is also true. I know I have to be positive to support her, but when she’s exhausted, down and despairing at what her life has become, I want to weep. She’s my little girl and I’m not sure how to detach myself. Perhaps it’s just not possible.
I find myself remembering how this was easier with Juliette because of her relatively young age. If she felt rough, I comforted and looked after her. Over the nineteen months she was ill I never had to answer questions like, “What if I’m not better in six months?” or “Am I ever going to feel the way I used to?”
I’m grateful I never had to deal with these difficult questions from Juliette. If she had been old enough to ask me whether she could die, I really don’t believe I would have been strong enough to give her the right answers. Her condition was a part of her, and she accepted it. In fact, the only time she ever even seemed to resent her illness was on a day I wrote about in my book. I’ve copied and pasted the section below.
We were incredibly proud and humbled by Juliette’s attitude to all the things that happened to her during her treatment. In fact, there was only one occasion where she even mentioned her condition in a negative way. At her weekly hospital check up, we had got into the habit of buying sweets either before or after the appointment. Once, I was alone with her and had forgotten to pass the shop. As we neared the car, she reminded me. Tired and keen to get home, I told her that I thought we would give the sweets a miss, just for this week. Her face broke with disappointed tears.
“I never wanted to have leukaemia Mummy!” she raged, and as she said these words, I collapsed inside. She had always been sanguine, and this was the first time that the disease was not her friend and happy companion. That hateful, dangerous word had always spilled off her innocent tongue like something dearly loved. “LooKEEEmia!” It was her own, but for us it was the enemy she had welcomed into her heart while we could only watch and feel afraid. I picked her up and kissing her, carried her straight back to the hospital shop. On the drive home, I watched Juliette in the rear view mirror quietly eating her chocolate bar. My shoulders shook with the effort not to cry.
Elodie knew that her sister might die. She was five, for crying out loud, and had to carry the burden of this information that she could never share with Juliette for over a year. Then she lost her beloved sister and somewhere along the line, gained a depressed mother. Really, how surprising is it that her poor mind and body need a break?