2015 was meant to be a year of celebration – commemorating our 40th Wedding Anniversary and the birth of our first grandchild. However, events soon changed to reminiscing about lives and deaths. (Perhaps the rain on the 26th July was a portent of what was to come). My daughter’s Grandma died suddenly in the August and then in the September the tragic events continued with the birth of Alexandra and her short life.
A phone call late evening from Andrew came to say that they were at the hospital and things were not looking good. We made the immediate decision to travel up to Leeds. The journey was complicated by the fact the direct route via the M1 was hindered by overnight road closures, so we had to dash up the A1 to Leeds General Infirmary. We spent what seemed an eternity just staring at this gorgeous baby in the cot, attached to wires and pumps. I was very proud of my daughter and son in law with the way they coped taking a mighty decision not to prolong life but to donate what ever organs could be used to help others. Leaving the hospital was a wrench – I just wanted to hold Claire in my arms but she and Andrew needed time together with Alexandra.
Two years on, life is different and there is always the thought that if Alexandra had lived what would she be like. I still break down at times and have a good weep. Of all the places that I least expected to have a weep was at a quilt show last November. My friend and I were looking at the displays and we came across the Remembering Baby Quilt Project from Sheffield University. Of course, I had to stop and explain what had happened to Alexandra and I wrote on a tag “For Alexandra Fowkes McLennan – a star for ever”. Tears streamed down my face and I had to go a quiet corner to gain composure. Luckily my friend was extremely understanding and appreciated that I had to go to a quiet corner.
I still find it difficult to answer the question “How many grandchildren do you have?” The answer is always dependent upon the situation. Quite often I will say two but only one came home safely. Most of my friends have avoided the cliché that everything happens for a reason – it doesn’t. There is a gap in our family and I wear a bracelet with a heart which has Alexandra’s hand prints engraved on it most days so that a piece of her is with me.
Now I enjoy my time with Ophelia performing Grandma duties such as taking her to the park to play on the swings, baking and cutting and sticking – all the activities I did with her Mum but there is still the void of what life could have been.