It was mid-way through our holiday in Southwold and Juliette wasn’t well. Steph had taken Elodie, Pierre and Raphi to the harbour wall in Southwold for crabbing.  As soon as they’d left, Juliette got up and wanted to play a game.  We sat at the kitchen table and played cards, then did some drawing.  Juliette drew around her hand, using her favourite pink, then wrote her name in purple.  Above this, she drew the two of us. 
‘Why have we got wings, darling?’  Juliette rolled her eyes at my stupidity. 
‘Because we’re flying, Mummy!’
Of course.

I concentrated on my own drawing, and can still hear the sound of her pen dropping onto the paper.  She looked awful, suddenly.  I didn’t need it, but I found the thermometer and took her temperature. It was high.  Her last normal blood test had been two days earlier, so I knew her white cell count could have plummeted.  I was still breastfeeding Raphi, so I packed an overnight bag for Steph and Juliette, collected the others from the harbour, and we all drove to hospital. 
That week she had brimmed with life.  Every morning she badgered us all to get ready so we could get down to the beach.  She giggled, wiggled her naked bottom out of the window as Elodie collapsed with mortified, awe-struck laughter.  She was the flag-bearer, fun captain, the sail and the rudder, demanding each day be different – “ittsiting” (exciting).  We saw best friends and precious family, watched otters and chased dragonflies.  Her cheeks had colour, her hair was glossy.  She was irrepressible.  We thought she’d be with us forever.
Taking her to hospital with a fever was a drill we’d done a hundred times, but at 2 o’clock the next afternoon the doctor asked for our permission to stop trying to resuscitate her.

That week and a bit was a gift.  We had the best of her in those days – her energy and love, sunshine and happy times.  I know I must be grateful and I am, but the pain that I’ll never know her older than 5 is always there.  I think she would have made an incredible adult.

14 thoughts on “Hand

  1. She lives on in your lovely memories Geves. Thank you for sharing so her memory lives on in the lives of people like me who didn't have the privilege to know her. Big hugs, Dot

  2. Dot, thank you so much for reading, and for making that lovely comment. It means a lot to me when people who didn't know her "see" what she was like. x

  3. Such a beautiful post – so glad you felt able to share it with us. That poor little girl, and poor you – but what a memory to leave behind – burning with life and fun.

  4. That simple sentence midway through your post was like a punch to the guts – I haven't been so affected by something I've read in a long time.A beautiful and bittersweet post – your writing continues to be the very best.

  5. Petra, I know it sounds bizarre but I really do feel lucky to have had that time – to have had her at all, in fact. Thank you.Thank you Jenny. Hope you're doing OK with the little one at the moment. GK, I really appreciate that you saying that, thank you. I'm just trying to say how it was – it seems to help box up the feelings that way.

  6. Every time I walk into Jemma's room I am reminded of little Juliette by the mosaic shiny paper sunflower still proudly displayed in the middle of the wall amongst all Jemmas special photos. xx

  7. The picture of the hand reminded me of this quote, author unknown: "You may hold my hand for a while,but you hold my heart forever."Hearts and hands go together, forever, wherever you may be. xxx

  8. Such beautiful descriptions of your darling Juliette, I could just imagine her cuteness. then such a terrible sentence. I love the picture of her, so gorgeous.Love, Sallyx

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