The price of memories

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Our problem: We live in a part of England that boomed during Tudor times thanks to the wool trade. Wealthy Tudors built beautiful timber-framed houses, and our village is full of them. We have views of the Colne Valley, a good primary school, a brilliant shop and a locally renowned pub. It’s a great village. People are born here, then never move. Others move in and stay forever. We are in this group. It’s fifteen years since Steph and I escaped London with our two little girls and a Pierre-shaped bump to live here.

We’re lucky, so where’s the problem? Well, the thing is our village is so lovely that people stay. This means that everywhere we look we see Juliette’s friends.

I know families like ours sometimes move away from stark reminders of what their child will never be, but we didn’t. This was the only home she remembered, and is where we have our best memories of her. But the price of our memories is having to watch from a distance as Juliette’s friends get older, while another year’s snowdrops bloom on her grave across the way. That’s never really got easier.

We watched as her friends grew tall and slim, lost their baby teeth, left primary then climbed the bus for their secondary school adventure. They are sixteen now, like Juliette should be next month. The girls have boobs, and some have boyfriends. They’ve left Juliette behind.

I can’t picture Juliette at sixteen. I try, but all I can manage is a taller version of her five-year-old self, with post-chemo tufts of hair and a twinkle in her eyes. Perhaps this isn’t too far from reality, but I wish I’d been allowed to find out.

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8 thoughts on “The price of memories

  1. She was a stunning little girl and everything I know about you tells me that she would have been a wonderful young woman. Her death was such a loss and, while I am sure that this is no comfort at all, you articulate the echo-chamber of your grief with amazing clarity for those of us fortunate enough not to have experienced anything similar.

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  2. Geves, my 5-year-old son is frozen in time. I consider him my angel. I have wonderful living children and was sad for such a long time knowing he would never grow up. But writing about him and composing music helped me so much. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I would love to share more with you. Clicking on my gravatar has my email address. If you privately email me and give me your mailing address, I will share with you some of my forthcoming audio book and songs. My story is about healing from the agony of my child’s death. Healing doesn’t mean the wounds are gone – simply that my scars are no longer bleeding. You understand, as it has been many years since your beloved daughter died. It changes us forever!

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  3. It does change you, Judy. I’m glad that writing about your son has helped you because it confirms what I feel. I really relate to your image of the loss of your son as a wound which no longer bleeds. I always had this feeling of being an open wound when I first lost Juliette, and it’s taken a long time to heal. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I will be in touch.

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  4. I too lost my daughter at age 10 to ALL. It will be two years in May. Reading your story brought a lot of tears as it is so similar to ours. The lumps, the diagnosis, the doctors saying “the better leukemia”, etc. Our Loss was very sudden and unexpected as she was in hospital with a fever for 2 weeks and passed from a virus as well. Time flies but yet at times it feels like yesterday. I just stumbled on this blog so I have a lot more to read. Can you direct me to her last hospital admission if you blogged about it?
    I am having a very difficult time and it is so hard to see her friends grow up. 😦

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  5. I’m so sorry you’re having a difficult time right now, Kelly. Two years is nothing at all and it’s so hard, isn’t it? I found the second year worse than the first in some ways, because it’s starting to sink in and other people think you’re ‘coping so well.’ I hope you’re managing to get some support.

    Our daughters’ stories do sound very similar. I tell myself it was better Juliette’s last illness was so brief because she didn’t suffer as long, but then I find myself envying parents who had a proper chance to say all the things they wanted to say, what I would love to have been able to say to Juliette. I haven’t blogged about Juliette’s last admission, but I’ll post that chapter here next. I hope you don’t find it too hard to read.

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