I find huge solace in reading. Apparently people who are grieving often read everything and anything they can get their hands on. I guess we are trying desperately to try and find some meaning in the pain. And I am slowly beginning to realise, I think, that there is no meaning in this pain.
Life really hurts sometimes and quite often we just don't have any control over it.
"When Bad things Happen to Good People" - Harold Kushner's international best seller "for everyone who has been hurt by life" really appealed to me.
When Chloe was first diagnosed I kept asking why?, why us? Our hospital consultant told us quite bluntly, I thought at the time, not to waste any time dwelling on this one. Looking back I kind of understand what he was saying - but at the time it just seemed the biggest question in the world and we were desperate for answers. One of the most heart breaking things Chloe ever said early on in her illness was "Mum why did this happen to me? I haven't done anything wrong?"
Through the journey with teenage cancer you learn pretty quickly that really bad things do happen to really good people. And to really young people. I'm haunted by an image of a little boy called Henry. He had some rare, and probably incurable, cancer. He was two. Every morning he would be sedated to go into radiotherapy as little ones don't keep still - so have to be sedated. His parents were sweet, caring and patient - and totally distraught. He was their first child and they knew that he probably wouldn't get better. Whatever could he have done to deserve this at the age of two? I often think of little Henry and I wonder what happened. Maybe a miracle?
In Kushner's book he says that when people cry out in anguish God sends people to help us. Doctors and nurses to help ease the pain and suffering and friends and community to hold us up when we can't stand any more.
I'm not sure about God at the moment - we're still not on proper speaking terms. But I believe in people, in community. My friends, the doctors and nurses at University College London Hospital, The Royal Marsden in Sutton and the Croydon Children's Hospital at Home Team are the closest to angels I've ever seen. I am totally humbled by their dedication, compassion and their ability to reach out and help in the most difficult circumstances.
Chloe's death was the most heart breaking thing I have ever experienced; but it wasn't traumatic. And the reason it wasn't is because of the people around us. Having seen the most precious thing in my life die I have absolutely no fear of death.
And my friends; and Chloe's friends. All the people who have sat with me , held my hand without speaking, without trying to explain away my suffering or diminish it by telling me other people have it worse. The reassurance that I'm not alone and that my family and I are people worth caring about - this means so very much.
Two of Chloe's dearest friends sat in our little memorial garden today. They cried. I cannot think of a more touching scene than these beautiful young people sitting in Chloe's garden just thinking about her. So sad and so uplifting at the same time.
It is these little images of the beauty of life and the human spirit that is starting to help me heal. Very very early days but I feel a softness creeping in.