‘Don’t let me down.’ Jose’s quiet request revolved over and over in my mind. Out of sight, my tears flowed freely with subdued sobs. What did she mean? All I knew was that I must support her, for what little of her precious life remained.
Like many childhood illnesses this one came out of the blue. Jose took everything in her stride. Chemo, radiotherapy and finally surgery. All she kept repeating was, ‘Don’t let me down.’ How could I find out what she meant? I felt utterly helpless, wishing I had a magic wand to save her.
Despair found me in the small dark hours of sleepless nights. Seeing any child suffer is heart-breaking in its helplessness, but beyond agonising when they're yours. I wanted to stroke her forehead, cuddle her, share her burden, hoping my love would ease her pain.
Jose took life’s hardships on the chin, she just dealt with them. Even when her hair fell out in huge clumps, she started a fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust, who made a wig for her. No tantrums, self-pity, or regrets, she was almost blasé about it all. Maybe I did all that ‘Worrying’ stuff for her, I hope so, but I’ll never know.
Eventually despair turned to grief but for days I couldn’t muster the courage to go into her empty bedroom. Finally, tears streaming, I ran in picking up Benjy Bear from the bedside table, for comfort.
He was sat on an envelope, ‘Mum’ written on the front, in Jose’s handwriting. Blurry eyed, I held it close, eventually daring to open it. It was a list of her final wishes. She was just thirteen, how could someone so young write like this. Her last words were, ‘Don’t let me down, look after yourself too Mum, love, Jose.’Selected: Weekly Write #14
Published in Issue #29