The weekend of 18th October 1991 is forever etched in my memory. I remember thinking that I had everything in the world that I could possibly need or want.
My husband was turning 29 that following week. For some unknown reason (maybe a sixth sense), I had decided to celebrate his 29th birthday more formally instead of his 30th the following year. We had a fun birthday dinner with some close friends on the Saturday, and woke up feeling rather jaded on that Sunday morning.
To clear our heads, we decided to go for a walk. It was then that Isobel, just like any toddler, started to become fractious and moody. She wanted to be picked up, then put down. She not her usual self. The next morning, when I was changing her nappy, I noticed that she was ice cold down one side of her body, When I put her down on the floor and she started to walk, I noticed to my horror that she was walking with what I can only describe as a swinging gait.
From that moment, our lives changed forever. Within hours of having a CT scan at our local hospital, we were rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital. It was there that we were told, after an MRI scan, that she had a very rare and highly malignant brain stem tumour. There was nothing the doctors could do. We ended up taking her home to die.
Nature has an extraordinary way of guiding and protecting you though these most dreadful of circumstances. Having only just had Emily, my second daughter, 6 weeks earlier, my hormones were all over the place. With an exhausting two weeks in Great Ormond Street, I was amazed at how we managed to get through the weeks ahead. It was all rather surreal. Life seemed to happen in slow motion with a mix of extreme pain and raw nerves grabbing one when least expected. Then the numbness would set in again giving us the strength to look after Isobel and cope with her fluctuating mood swings. Luckily I had chosen not to feed Emily from the start, having had a bad experience with Isobel. This was a real blessing. It meant that Emily could be well looked after by the wonderful Rebecca who was a huge support all the way though.
During this time, we heard of a Spiritual Healer who had healed one of my brother’s friends. I was willing to try anything to help Isobel ease whatever pain and discomfort she was going through. Her name was Mrs Black and she flew down from Edinburgh to see her. Isobel would sit on my lap while Mrs Black would place her hands on Isobel. She only came to visit once and then she gave Isobel Distance Healing everyday. For the weeks after her visit, I can honestly say that Isobel was much calmer and more peaceful, having been really very unhappy.
Tragically, seven weeks from diagnosis, Isobel died at 1pm on the 16th December 1991. How anyone can survive after losing a child, their own flesh and blood, is beyond me, whether it’s a miscarriage, stillbirth, just days, weeks or even at 40 years old. We do though, somehow. In those days and weeks afterwards, grief gripped me in a way that is so hard to describe. It is different and completely unique to every person. Probably the most defining symptom (if we can call it that) is that one’s heart literally aches and the physical exhaustion is incessant. I felt numbness when the pain was too great, and then I’d be hit by another wave. And so it continued. People did not know what to say or do, so to help with my feelings of isolation, I went in search of a book. There was literally nothing on child bereavement, so that is when I decided to write my own. “Dear Isobel” was first published in April 1994.
A couple of years later, my son Oliver was born, on the same day as Emily but they were two years apart. Life went on, as did the continuing grief. It changed as the years went by, but the emptiness and the void one feels never really goes away.
Around eight years after Isobel’s death, I was told about a Spiritual Healer who happened to live locally, and who had also lost a child to cancer. From the moment I met her, I felt my life was going to take a new direction. She gave me a healing session and I was blown away about how I felt afterwards. She then told me something I think I had known for a while, but had been lurking beneath the surface. This well respected Healer told me that I had a natural ability to help others with the use of my hands. When she told me this, it felt like the last bit of the puzzle was complete. Suddenly it all made sense to me and I threw myself into energy work, and my life started to shift.
I have been an Energy Healer for 23 years but only full time for the last 15 years, once Emily and Oliver left home. It was in hindsight that I realised that my life had come full circle. When we sought out Mrs Black, little did I realise that I would end up doing exactly what she had been doing with little Isobel. I feel that when I am channeling the energy, Isobel is there being my guiding light and showing me the way.
One of the reasons I have written this blog is that it was clearly the right time for me to hear about the amazing work Elle has done. Thanks to her, it has enabled me to tell people what I do and how I can help others with the gift that I have been given. I hope that, having lost a child, I can empathise and provide support, as well as give much needed healing of the mind and body.
It has been a very long time since Isobel’s death, but it still seems like yesterday. You do get through it but there will always be the “what ifs”. The pain disappears eventually but only with time, and lots of it. One never ever gets over it, but you learn to cope in whatever way is unique to you.