(Dedicated to those who helped my little Ned on the 25th of March)
Last Friday I went to meet the brave heroes from the Wales Air Ambulance who attended the scene of the crash on Friday, the 25th of March – the day I last saw my little boy Ned. I cried on the way down, I cried as we were given coffee and waited for the two men to come in. When they came in, I felt a strange calmness engulf me. Here were the two men who had all the answers to my questions.
They told me what happened from the second they landed the helicopter on the road, 35 minutes after the call, to when they had to finally admit the battle was over. They told me how peaceful the scene was. They told me how brave my little Ned was; how he clung onto his life for over an hour, but his battle was in vain. His injury was fatal from the outset.
The two men, one an anaesthetist and the other a critical care paramedic, are dads themselves. They shed tears as I cried. They told me that they had worked on road accidents for 15 years, but that Ned was the one case that would stay with them forever. Ned touched them and they have my little boy tucked away in the corner of their hearts.
A fireman had knelt next to Ned the whole time and hadn’t stopped talking to him, and had tearfully pleaded with them not to give up when they had said that there was nothing else they could do. My police liaison officer and her sergeant stood next to him willing the ending to be a different one. My police liaison officer now carries a photo of Ned in her purse.
They asked me to tell them about Ned; about this special little boy who has touched so many hearts.
So I told them about my little boy. I told them how he was always smiling and laughing. I told them how he loved to perform and would always put on shows for us to watch. I told them he was always the last to get up in the mornings. I told them how his hair stuck up at funny angles no matter how much I brushed it.
I told them he loved jam sandwiches with the crusts cut off and only if it was jam no bits. I told them how, when he walked into a room, he instantly attracted everyone’s attention without even trying. I told them how lovable he was, how he would cling to me at bedtime and tell me he loved me more than the whole wide world, and would ask for the biggest kiss in the world on his cheek so that he could feel it there till morning. I told them how I had to sing ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’ to him every night.
I told them how he was determined to learn to ride his bike without stabilisers over the Easter holidays and how proud he was to be moving up to Stage 3 swimming lessons after the holidays.
I told them how children swarmed around him in school, everyone wanting a little piece of my Ned. And he gave. He befriended everyone – from the shy little girl who loved to watch him perform to the boisterous boys he would join in a rugby tackle.
He sounds just like he looked, one said. A lovable mischievous little scamp. And that’s exactly how he was – bursting with life and energy; full of wonderment and excitement about the world around him; already labelled as a ‘gifted and talented’ pupil at school. Perfect.
So why take him from this Earth? Why hurt him so badly that his little body could not survive? Why leave two little boys without their brother? Why leave a Mam and Dad falling apart without their precious son? Those are the questions I’ll never have answered. Those are the questions that form grief.
Since that day, my grief has turned into a deep, deep sadness that sits in the pit of my stomach. I feel a cold emptiness; I guess it’s the realisation that my little boy really has gone. The nightly nightmares of images of how I could see that fateful day have stopped; replaced by a sad reality; a reality that hadn’t hit me despite his bed having been empty for 7 months. Acceptance – that will never come. I will never accept that I’ll never hold my little boy again. Never.
The crew we met were lovely, gentle and loving people. So as the world sometimes seems crazy and incomprehensible, and makes us question its cruelty, I think of these men who showed my Ned nothing but love. And I thank them from the bottom of my shattered heart for what they did. They fought for my little boy with every ounce of their being. They are true heroes – the ambulance paramedics, the police, the fire crew and the Air Ambulance Crew.
I will always think of my little boy as my angel, even before he was taken. There was something so very special about him. I live day by day, sometimes hour by hour. I feel such a strong pull to my little Ned, but I feel an equal pull to my two precious sons at home – living, breathing, wanting and needing their Mam.
So when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I say to myself is that all I need to do is breathe. Just breathe. Anything else I achieve during the day is just an extra. As long as I’m still breathing, I’ll be here. I may be a crumpled heap on the floor; I may be curled up in a tight ball in the corner of Ned’s bedroom; I may be knelt next to his grave crying endless tears; but I’m still breathing.
Tragedy has struck friends of ours this past fortnight. Another cruel, cruel accident which has left a young woman a widow at 41, and three young children to grow up without a dad. My advice to her has been to simply keep breathing. The horror isn’t going to go away; it doesn’t get easier with time, it changes, you learn to live with it. But as long as she keeps breathing, she’ll be here.
Grief is a living thing; it moves around the body; it changes form; but it will be there, inside me, inside my friend, for the rest of our lives. That gives us a choice. We live with it, or we don’t. Sometimes it becomes so powerful, so all-encompassing that you have to find release. I’ve blogged about the dangerous ways I’ve chosen in the past and I will try my very best to help my friend live with and release her grief in ways that won’t threaten her life.
For me, right now, it’s writing. It’s breathing slowly as I write the turmoil onto the page. I step out of myself. This is a good form of release and I hope that this is where I’ll stay. Because as long as I keep breathing I will have words. Words to put on paper, words to shout out loud in anger, words to cry into my pillow. But they are all words and for a few brief moments, they give me release and they keep me here.
To the Crew
You battled strong, you battled long,
You tried to right that which was wrong.
There was no more that you could do,
My broken heart sends thanks to you.