This is a photo of an Aunt I never met. She was my father's elder sister, & the firstborn daughter in the family. She had auburn, curly hair, & was very loved & adored.
Sadly, she died when she was only 8 years old.
She died of Meningitis, and the first my Grandmother knew of her impending death, was when little Molly lay in a hospital bed.
A Doctor came along, with some student Doctors, & informed them, "This child is dying. There is nothing we can do to save her."
Family lore doesnt recount how my Grandmother reacted. But all who knew her, said she never really recovered from the loss of little Molly. She had other children, but her sadness remained forever.
This photo was taken of Molly when she was older, & perhaps not long before she got ill, & died. She looks to be about 8 years old, & her solemn expression makes me wonder about her.
I know there are probably no families who are not touched by tragedy somewhere.
I used to have nightmares about something happening to one of my children. An illness, or accident.
And before they were born, I agonised over the thought, 'Would they be born alright?'
My sister-in-law has a child, -woman now- who was born with Cerebal Palsy, & I used to wonder would I have a child the same. I could see how difficult their lives were, how much the second child missed out, how much stress it cost the marriage.
I was lucky, my children were born healthy & 'normal'. They were intelligent & whole. They seemed to do well. We felt so blessed with our children, & our lives.
Then, when GOM's daughter, from his first marriage, was 16, she died as a result of a motorbike accident. She hadnt lived with us, but with her mother, who had remarried, & moved away from our city. We saw her whenever we could, & our children loved her, & it was mutual.
We were perhaps 'lucky' in that we had our other children. Her mother didnt have any more children.
You never get over the loss. You just learn to live around it.
Then, my eldest son, was kicked & beaten almost to death, as an adult. He was not expected to live. Or walk, or talk again, if he did. He has done both, & exceeded all expectations since, but will never have a 'normal' life again. He suffered brain injury, that is permanant. His badly broken body has been mended -not perfectly, but well enough to enable him to walk, ride his bike, & care for himself. He has ongoing problems with his body, has arthritis, will require more surgery. And his speech is a lot slower than it used to be. His motor skills will never be the same, & he is doubtful he will work again. As he says, who wants to employ someone who needs a nap every afternoon? He seems to have retained a lot of his old sense of humour. He has a pet dog, & he says he is happy. He hates the term 'invalid'. He says it implies a person is in- valid. Everyone should be 'valid' regardless of the way they are born, or 'made'.
Reading of the terrible things people say & do to their children, I cant help but wonder how there can be such cruelty in the world. Life can be cruel enough, without humans adding to it.
I just hope all the children are safe & carefully cared for, not only in this Season of Joy, but all year round.
NN told me she thinks she found her sense of humour yesterday, while out shopping. She met an old man, who told her he "will be glad when this is all over, & we can go back to hating each other again". Really made her laugh. Me too!