The life and death of Richie William, age 12 and a couple of days

We all lie awake in the middle of the night sometimes listening to the house cracking or because I live in London it could be a bird singing maybe a Blackbird, other sounds are lorries rumbling past my house, I live on a main road,

One of those moments that I remember lying awake was nearly 14 years ago and the sound I heard would later sweep through my life and rip it to pieces, everything I had ever known would be taken away without my permission leaving me lost for realistically the rest of my life.

The cough was persistent and I thought I must send him to the doctors in the morning, I was listening to my son Richie, he had been complaining of shortness of breath and said he felt pressure behind his ears.  I took him to the doctors at that time and doctor said it was nothing and he would be fine, little did he or I know that Richie, his sister and I would never be fine again.

The next morning I had to go to work so I asked my daughter Sophia to take Richie to the doctors, I remember going down the stairs and looking back up, Richie was standing on the top step looking down at me I was struck at how handsome he was and it took my breath away, but Richie had been playing up lately his sister Sophia was pregnant at a very young age and as we had all got over the surprise and anger we just got on with it and life continued, I thought that Richie was a bit jealous of the attention that Sophia was getting normal behaviour but my parting shot at Richie was “stop mucking about Pull your socks up and behave”  regrets for words and actions.

Richie was the child I had when I had grown up, there was a six year gap between him and his sister I was totally in love with his father and  Richie was my love child, I had a good job and I was the happiest I had ever been.  Richie’s father and I had broken up, not my fault the new drug of my generation was Crack and I’m afraid Richie’s father fell in love with Crack, he loved it more than me. What a shame.

I had been at work for a couple of  hours and was sitting in the restaurant with my friend Janice a lovely bubbly pretty lady and a couple of other ladies, when we got around to my daughters pregnancy. I was saying how disappointed I was that Sophia had got pregnant so young.  Janice told me a story that I would never forget.

A friend of hers had a daughter who was sixteen when she got pregnant (same age as Sophia) and she was so angry, just a short time later the daughter started complaining of a pain in her leg, the mother took the daughter to the doctors and shortly afterwards the daughter was diagnosed with cancer and within a very short time the young girl had died. Janice says her friend says if she could have anything it would be her pregnant daughter was alive and she would have a grandchild, because now she has nothing. She had realized that having a pregnant daughter was the least of her problems. That certainly put things in perspective for me and I actually did feel better.

As we were talking there was a Tannoy announcement asking for me to go the Office. It was a phone call for me from Lewisham Hospital and my daughter was telling me I must come down to the hospital straight away.

I flew like the wind.  Richie is a lovely caramel colour and he has chubby cheeks and dimples, he is rather wilful and highly intelligent, he is my companion and he makes me laugh, he is twelve years old and his voice has still not broken, he is my baby.

The nightmare starts. first Richie is lying face down on a bed unable to breath properly and we are waiting to see a doctor, this doesn’t take long. Next Richie is having an examination a scan of his chest.  Next I’m in a room away from consultation room with two doctors looking at me telling me, there is a huge mass around Richie’s throat and chest, his lung has collapsed and the other is halfway down, his lungs are full of fluid. They are taking him to surgery straight away I felt myself getting smaller and smaller the doctors seemed as if they were miles away from me and I was dreaming, next my tears are blinding me as Richie is drowsy from surgery they have inserted a drain to his lungs and he is just coming round, he lifts his arm up and his eyes are far away and dreamy, he strokes my cheek and tells me not to cry, I didn’t think he could see me.  I have a meeting with a consultant  who says that even though there have been no biopsy results, he is quite sure that Richie has cancer and he will be transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in the morning.This is all in 3 hours of walking through that hospital door.

Oh God things have quieted down and Richie is stable, there is no doubt that Richie was actually at deaths door. Sophia and I are shell shocked.

To be Continued


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