Northern Ireland Hospice for Children have asked our family to be part of a very special series of events they will run in the weeks to come.
The events will include a series of interviews with parents that have experienced a stay in the hospice with a sick or terminally ill child. A beautiful photo exhibition in the Belfast City Hall of children who have enjoyed or benefited from a stay in the Hospice. A speech address to dignitaries about the vital role the Hospice plays in respite and end of life childcare.
Alex will speak in the city hall that day. Georgie's name will resound in the same hall where so many important speeches and decisions have been made over the years. My mother's heart is proud. My boy's name will be spoken out loud and his story be known. But most importantly, the circumstances of his passing will hopefully inspire others to choose the hospice if faced with the unthinkable; to donate even more so that the place continues to exist and its services to bring comfort to many more families. My boy will serve in his death many others. His death will never be in vain!
What did the last two weeks of Georgie's life we spent in the Hospice mean to us as a family?
Precious time together
The Hospice is not a hospital but has the feel of home. For us, it did become home for those two weeks. Thanks to the very deep understanding gained by the experienced staff over the years and the sensitive way in which they dealt with Georgie's pain relief and feeds, we were able to relax and just be with him.
I cannot explain how paradoxically liberating it felt to be able to just enjoy our son, after those absolutely draining months in the Children's Hospital.
I cannot stress the importance of those moments, hours and days we had creating memories, cuddling, listening to music, talking to him.
Although the nurses took the (overbearing for me) responsibility of managing the pain, they were nevertheless able to guide and assist us in a thousand wonderful ways of making Georgie's last moments count. Nothing was seen as impossible, not even making the dream of swimming as a family reality.
Comfort and palpable love.
Love was wrapped around us tight in the form of cooked meals and a warm and clean room to crush in at the end of the day. And a day bed in Georgie's room, especially designed to witness cuddles with him.The same bed on which we cuddled on the night of the 5 July, 2014, when our baby left us behind.
We felt loved any time we were offered the chance of a chat or a rant or a good cry and no judgement.
We felt love, oh so much love, in the way the nurses cared for Georgie, in the way they ever so carefully and respectfully treated his pain-ridden wee body. In the way they assisted me in bathing and dressing him and making him comfortable every single moment of every single day we were there.
We were loved through music therapy, counselling, art sessions(we did loads of family footprints paintings) and walks in the garden.
We felt love in the way they respected our pain once Georgie was away, allowed us to spend one last night with his little body and made the room in which the memorial service was held a haven of peace. The room was filled with the memories we had created together and never felt like a mortuary, it actually felt like a cozy family room.
We felt love in the way we were encouraged to spend time with Georgie even after his soul had flown away and how death never became a scary thing to Emma who wanted to be with her little brother until the very end.
We felt love in the way our baby's existence was celebrated, mourned and is always remembered in the Hospice. I know for sure that there will always be someone in the Horizon House who will be willing to talk about him, cry with me and always, always remember his precious existence.
Thank you, Northern Ireland Children's Hospice for loving my son like family, caring for him with utmost respect and compassion and making his passing bearable for us as a family.
Thank you for making every moment we had with him count!
Our gratitude will never be enough.