On the 5th of June 2012, our Beautiful B turned 18! I've paused I don't know how many times to think about that because it doesn't feel like 18 years ago I was holding her for the first time while the nurses flapped about because she hadn't cried. She was too busy looking at me - probably taking in what I looked like on the outside.
I don't feel old enough to have an 18 year old - Most of the time I only feel about 20 years old (but with a bit more experience....) I can certainly act like a 20 year old; without the attitude.
Everyone comments on how mature our Beautiful B is and I have to agree and yes I am biased and proud of it. I look at other kids her age and can't help but compare her behaviour to theirs. She has some very good friends and those with babies have had no choice but to mature but she also has friends who I look at and inwardly smile; for no other reason than being able to recall how at 18 most feel the world revolves around them.
Beautiful B is different....most of the time. Yes I still have to remind her to do her chores on some occasions and I gave up the battle of getting her to wash the dishes after we had sat down to dinner - washing dishes at 11pm before bed is useless to me if I have guests coming round earlier and lets face it they never turn up at 11pm to see a tidy kitchen now do they? I can also ask her to do any additional jobs and she will do them.
On the flip side, Beautiful B is so compassionate and empathetic. She is one of the most grounded teenagers I know and she thinks of others before herself most of the time. Why? Well, if I could live my life over again I wouldn't change a thing (other than marrying one of Jehovah's Witnesses who was the worst example for the faith), because I wouldn't have Beautiful B and we wouldn't be who we are. But, and its a big but, to get to this stage we have suffered and Beautiful B has suffered more than anyone.
From having a ritual every time she went to bed that went on for 30 minutes at 7 years old while I convinced her that while she slept no-one would die, an earthquake wouldn't happen, there wouldn't be any lightning striking the house....and the list went on, to the almost continual upset and turmoil she suffered for most of her teenage life, to a brief stint in hospital because our Dcotor would not listen to me when I said she needed help.
At least the stint in hospital got her the help she needed and we finally got to the bottom of the ritual that started when she was 7 and that help provided Beautiful B with the building blocks of a coping mechanism which in turn has turned her into the person she is today. It was an awful thing for her to go through and I credit the help she was given by some wonderful people for who she is today, without the usual teenage tantrums, attitude and other issues.
So yes, I can safely compare Beautiful B with her peers and she how more mature she is for her age and yet I can't help be somewhat sad because this year she has suffered more than anyone her age should have to - from finding out that her dad had liver disease, to being told the liver disease was too advanced and a liver transplant was the only hope and not fully understanding the ramifications of that, to realising just how advanced it was, to finding out he was terminal, to lose a sister without warning and then to lose her dad 4 days later. I am not sure that as an adult I would have coped with all of that.
Yet, she did and she still does. She was strong while we arranged his funeral and while I helped her to notify the required authorities and she remains strong most of the time because what other choice does she have....
She went back to work in the hospital where she said goodbye to her sister and where she kept a virgil at her dad's bedside with me for 10 hours and she listens to the beeps of the machines day in, day out and they remind her of those awful last hours with her dad.
Her birthday was a mixture of happiness but also sadness because she knew she couldn't go and see her dad as she has done every birthday, every Christmas Day and every Fathers Day.
Present opening with a mixture of joy and tears as they had been bougtht with her dad and Mia in mind; pendants with their names engraved and precious stones in the colours of their roses on the day we said our final goodbyes and in Mia's favourite colour; a bracelet made by a designer called Thomas along with charms in Mia's favourite colour; and a framed drawing of Beautiful B, Tom and Mia all together because she had been distraught that she did not have a photo of the 3 of them together.
So her 18th birthday presents were bought with those she lost in mind, not as an awful reminder, but as evidence that we all think of her and her loss each and every day and that she needs physical reminders of them right now and they will be presents that she will treasure always.
On her birthday I took her to talk to her dad, which she does often. It was raining so I drove her to the grave rather than just to the car park - I wish I hadn't. Seeing her sat there with her head in her hands looking so very lonely will be another memory that will haunt me forever but it isn't even close to what she goes through day in and day out and as a mother I should have to feel her pain surely?
Yet, she still laughs as much, if not more than she shows the sadness and even on days where she cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel she knows it is there. She continues to help others despite the painful reminder every day at the hospital.
My beautiful B is adamant that something good will come from her dad's death and so she is now raising money for a charity that supports those with Liver Disease; in memory of her dad and to help others like him. The British Liver Trust is a small charity and not as well resourced financially as the bigger charities so for Beth to help them is a fitting tribute to her dad but also to her compassion for others.
If I achieve nothing else in my life, I don't care. If I do nothing else meaningful, I don't care. When Beautiful B was born, I was scared. Prior to her birth I struggled to play with babies; they were alien to me, yet when she was born I knew instantly what to do and how to talk to her in that baby voice we all use but I was still scared....
Scared that I didn't know enough, scared that I would hurt her by giving her to wrong milk or food, despairing of how she threw back half of her milk at every feed (now I realise I should have just tried a different formula....), scared that she would suffer because I had to leave her dad, scared that her relationship with her dad would suffer and so I went to the Nth degree to ensure that it didn't but in ensuring that their relationship was maintained she suffered watching and being involved in everything that went on in her dad's life.
I questioned my actions over and over again, worried that she would be scarred for life at something I had said or done, ran over in my mind millions of time the answers I would give to the usual questions children ask as they grow up.
I despaired when I couldn't find a way to reach her, when I begged for help from our doctor only to be told she was "being naughty" and that I "had not disciplined her enough"; I was and still am angry that she had to end up in hospital for anyone to listen to me but relieved that it meant counsellors stepped in to help and to assure me that Hubby and I had done everything we could for her and that the Doctor was wrong and yes, that they could help her.
I rejoiced when I saw the change in Beautiful B and the level of peace she was finally achieving with the counsellors help; I rejoiced in how we could finally communicate and how when I hugged her and told her I loved her she accepted it as truth; that she finally could believe that Hubby and I were not going to leave her like she had subconsciously worried about because so many had done previously; that she could feel safe and secure and give us the love she wanted and accept the love we wanted to give her - that rejecting all of that in case we left in some way was just hurting her more.
I rejoice every day that I have a daughter to be proud of; a daughter that I always wanted and that I strived to help raise as best as I could. Yes, we have had to go about things in a different way and the road has been long and hard at time and yes, Beautiful B is suffering so much at the moment but she knows that she will be kept safe and loved and comforted when she wants it most.
I rejoice that I have ensured that Beautiful B knows how much she is loved; that I tell her every day; that although she doesn't know it, I write to her often so that whenever it is my time to leave her and I have no choice; if needed she has reminders that she can read and eventually be comforted from.
said all that, at times she can be that normal 18 year old - deciding
to go out on the eve of her birthday to ensure that she could start
legally drinking alcohol at midnight only to crawl in at 4.30am and be
ill for the remainder of her birthday was in hindsight not the best idea
she has ever had......
did love the cake though, and the balloons so the running around i had
to do on a Bank Holiday because we had the Queens Jubilee on the same
day (how dare she mess with my plans ;-) was more than worth it.
This post was always going to be a little somber - it cannot not be because she is suffering but it is a legacy to Beautiful B's strength, compassion and empathy. At 18 she has a much older head on her shoulders - how she got that is sad but she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future and she will go a long way with that determination to make a difference to peoples lives no matter how hard it may be for her at times.
Beautiful B: you are and will remain my inspiration. You are, as everyone tells me, a credit to me and Hubby and your dad. You are loving and kind and so very protective of those you love. Your strength of character and determination to help others in and out of your career is a something to behold and I look at you and know that despite how I can sometimes questions the decisions I made in the past, somehow they were right and that I just have to accept that I cannot protect you from all the pain and suffering and believe in how it has and will continue to shape you into the person you have become.
I started this blog not because I wanted readers from across the country or the world but because I wanted another "something" that you could have to read and take comfort from when it is my time to leave you.
No-one in my family or friends knows about this blog (well not yet anyway) and most of the time I just dump my thoughts and feelings in it; not for others to like it but for you. Everything is for you. I do not want you to suffer the way Hubby still suffers 8 years after losing his father. I want you to be able to eventually read what I have written and feel that I am still with you and I hope that this blog will do that - that it will make you smile, laugh and yes, sometimes cry but above all else that you can read it and feel me with you, hear me talking to you. If it does that then nothing else matters.
I love you until all the stars fall out of the sky - always have and always will.