On the 25th of March, Good Friday, my 5 year old son, Ned, was going out for the day with his family on an Easter egg hunt. Tomi, my eldest, was travelling in a car with their two cousins and Uncle and Aunt, and Ned was to travel alone with his Nain. I was unable to take Ned because my youngest, Cai, who is 22 months old, needed to get to hospital as he had croup and was struggling with his breathing.
I asked Ned if he was happy to go by himself with Nain and he said, ‘Yes, I’m going to play Ben 10 the whole way.’ He grabbed his Ben 10 watch and skipped off to the car. I followed up to make sure he was belted in then stood on the doorstep and waved him off.
That was the last time I would ever see my little boy alive.
I left straight after to the hospital with Cai. There was a long wait but eventually we were seen and he was given steroid treatment. As we were leaving, my husband rang. He said that Ned and Nain had never arrived at the Easter egg hunt and that there had been an accident on the road. He said he was going to travel along the road to find them. I froze. I can’t explain the feeling. It was just an awful coldness clinging to my body and a sick feeling in my stomach.
‘Where’s Ned?’ I whispered.
My husband calmly said that they were likely to be stuck in the traffic or had got lost on the diverted route. He told me to go to Nain’s house to see if they’d arrived back there.
As I drove home, the panic was building. I knew that they were involved in the accident. Again I can’t explain the feeling, but I knew and I knew that my husband knew. Over and over I said to myself, ‘He’ll be badly hurt and the police will take me to him and I’ll stay with him and he’ll get better and everything will be fine.’ It was said like a mantra as the tears streamed down my face.
I turned onto the road where Nain lives and saw two police cars outside, one policeman and one policewoman standing at the entrance talking into their radios. I stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out and left the door open and walked up to the policewoman.
‘Where’s my boy? Where’s Ned?’ I asked.
She was crying and softly asked me to go inside.
Much of the rest I don’t remember, but I’ve spoken to the policewoman since to talk through what happened. She told me that the instant she looked in my eyes that I knew what she had to tell me. I did. I felt it. A chilling emptiness. A blackness that weighed on me. An ache in my heart so strong I clutched at my chest and struggled to breathe. I refused to go in and kept asking, ‘Where’s my boy?’
‘I’m so sorry,’ were the last words I remember her saying as I crumpled to the ground screaming and screaming and clawing at the pavement.
The next couple of hours are just a blur – not understanding and begging to be taken to my little boy.
That evening we were taken to the hospital. They opened the door of the room where he lay. I pushed passed everyone, desperate to get to my little boy. And there he was, lying on the bed, a blanket up to his chin, his eyes closed, sleeping peacefully. I touched his face and it was so cold. I said, ‘Wake up, Nedi, please wake up.’
I held onto his little body and cried and cried and cried. I wanted to make him warm again. I wanted him to open his eyes. I just wanted my little boy back. I couldn’t understand why it had happened. He was such a happy boy. Always smiling, always laughing. Adored by everyone who had ever met him. Why had he been taken? Why Ned?
I will never be able to explain the sadness that overcame my husband and I in that moment. The realisation that our little boy was dead. Gone. Taken from us so suddenly and so cruelly. It was all so senseless. How could I never see my boy again? How would I ever be able to carry on living now that my beautiful little boy was dead?
And that was it. The day that changed me forever. The day that such a big part of me died too. The day that I stopped being me.