We're here. This is respite. Someone else handling all the medications, all the medical needs, all the tedious bits. Leaving me to be Mummy.
We're here. Someone else is in charge of keeping the girls health, happy and occupied, meaning I can be with my friend, who is also here, sadly not for respite.
We're here. And possibly only here will I ever sit knitting and watch two girls, not related, bouncing on giant therapy balls and inflatable horses. Bounce, bounce, bounce, pause. "I'm really sad because my brother died." Bounce, bounce, bounce. "Yes, I'm really sad because my brother died too." Bounce, bounce, bounce. Grin, grin. "Come on, you be tigger and I'll be a fairy princess."
We're here. And possibly only here can two children share a grief, yet be children too. Weep, and then shrug it off and get on with the important business of being a child, and get on with the important busy-ness of being a child at Helen House. To grieve, and to play, and to be able to share that with someone else in the same position. To stay in pyjamas, but to get to McDonald's with a grandparent; to watch a film and to just drop in on a dearly beloved and precious brother. To share final moments and utter sadness, and then to have a rousing game of bubble monkey princess.
We're here. And only here, only at this time, can we drink wine together as adults, and we weep for the loss of another beautiful child, whilst celebrating life, treasuring memories, and being hideously inappropriate (but funny).
You cannot know this joy without knowing this pain. And it is my birthday, and yesterday my friends buried their daughter, and today we're here and my friend's son is in the Little Room. And the staff are worried, because we are here for respite, and I don't think they can ever understand. And they would spare this pain
But it is right that we are here. And God is here. And it is hard, so hard, to watch my friends in such loss. But it is so very right to be here at this time.
We're here. And this is Helen House. Our friends are here. And strangers here too. Respite families, end of life families, first visits and last visits. Love and pain and laughter.
We're here. And I wouldn't be anywhere else.