Wednesday, 2 May 2018

a girl so dear, taken so soon

two weeks ago today we lost our youngest niece, my brother's littlest daughter, in a tragic accident. she was only five years old.

you probably read about it in the papers or saw it on the news - there was a 'freak wave' down at Durdle Door that day that literally swept her off her feet and pulled her into the ocean, and then carried her out in a super strong tide faster than my sister-in-law could swim to rescue her.

once the rescue boat arrived it was too late - she was pronounced unconscious. a helicopter airlifted her to a nearby hospital but after an hour of trying to resuscitate she was pronounced dead.

these last two weeks have been the worst days of our lives, riding the wave of grief so unexpectedly. we are broken. i don't know how to begin to 'mend it' or 'move forward'.

it's odd to think that two weeks ago this morning my mum had come down for the day and we spent the morning paddling in a river in the New Forest. the sunshine was so glorious that day, and it twinkled over the waters in a way that made it look like the river was full of glitter. i remember thinking how perfect things were in that moment, how blessed i felt. and then...

it's the weirdest thing waking up each day thinking of the event, thinking at first, in those sweet moments of being semi-awake, that it's a nightmare, and then each day seconds later remembering all those feelings and events that make it true, that mean that it happened.

and i'm just the auntie. i cannot possibly fathom how it feels ten hundred thousand times more painful for my brother, sister-in-law and niece.

the following Friday my husband Pete and i went to see her body at the funeral home in the chapel of rest. i needed to do it, even though i was scared. i'd never seen a dead body before, but because of the way she died she was still as beautiful as always. beautiful hair, taller than i remembered, with such a knowing wisdom to the look on her face. she was at peace.

we spent time with her, put some of her favourite rose hair oil on her hair, and touched her as if she was sleeping. we said 'see you soon' instead of goodbye. we said 'we're sad because you're not with us, but we know you're in a better place'. we said 'thank you for being a ray of light, for being so completely you, for being our Rose'.

we didn't say 'i'm sorry you won't get kissed, get married, grow up, etc' because i fully believe she lived the full life that was planned for her, that she was destined to live. i'll be sad i won't see her grow, but she was never meant to be more than five and a half years old. i'll be sad she won't be with us at Christmas, but i believe she was never meant to be there.

and we didn't say 'i should've said...' because praise God we had said it all - we always told her she was beautiful when we saw her, that she was smart, that she was strong. we don't regret how we spent our time with her and the things we said - she was SO extremely loved by her family. praise God.

i don't think i would've handled the funeral as well as i did without having seen her that day.

the funeral was the most beautiful ceremony, the most intimate gathering of family and friends. our son was well behaved and his comprehension of what was happening was beyond what we could've expected - as she was being covered over he looked in and said 'night night'. we all wept. we planted trees nearby, we planted wildflowers on the top of her grave and we sprinkled dried roses in with her body.

actually the dried roses are a bit of a story in themselves. i'd been keeping and drying roses that i've been given by my husband for as long as we've been married which is pretty much the same length of time she was alive on earth - because my sister-in-law was pregnant with her at our wedding. i never had any intention with these roses, and the bag was getting furiously full.

when we moved back to the UK recently i almost got rid of the bag because it was so big and i didn't know what to do with it, but my husband told me to keep them. and it was my husband that remembered that the bag was there a few days after her passing. i seek comfort in knowing that God knew the purpose of the roses so many years before i did, before she was born, before any of us knew what would happen.

i seek comfort in knowing how many people were at the sea that day, and that the 'freak wave' so specifically took our Rose above all others. i keep visualizing scenes from Moana. it helps oddly enough, because she loved that film. and it also helps to remember that God is in charge of the waves, they don't have a mind of their own.

i believe God chose to spare her from something worse by taking her in that moment.

and what a life she had lived! i know she wasn't 96 years old, she was 5, but, she really knew how to live, to play, to smile, to be cheeky, to be kind, to be an explorer and to be a friend. life hadn't made her cynical or bitter, she hadn't learnt to think that the world was big, complicated or full of bad things. she saw things as truly as we all should remember to see them.

how precious life is! how short!

how i wish it had been me. how i wish i'd rather have died any of the many times that my diabetes has almost taken me there, instead of her. how i'll never understand why i'm here and she isn't.

i praise God that we moved back to England in time to spend lots more time with her, to have an Auntie Bid sleepover where we went to the park, we ate pizza together and i read her stories and we tried on lipsticks. she wore her favourite bright red for the rest of that day, smudging it across her face and then reapplying it when she woke up.

we are so grateful for the huge support and love that has been shown through the GoFundMe campaign, which has since seen over £9,000 of donations - friends, family, strangers all donating to make sure that her funeral was as the family wanted, without worry for cost, and that my brother and his family can somehow find a way to start again in a new way, maybe in a new place, probably in a new house, who knows yet.

i am also so grateful to those of you who reached out on my Instagram with messages of love and support. and to those who sent flowers and encouraging texts. literally the only reason i think none of us fell into pieces was because of the huge love we felt from those around us.

i keep thinking too of Beth from Little Women, and i've found reading parts over from the books to be a true comfort. she was also someone taken at a young age, and i know it's a novel, but it helps.

it's strange too how when this thing so tragic, so unexpected, so sudden happens, it forces you to look at your own life. to ask the questions, what if i were to be taken tomorrow? would i be happy with how i've left things? would i be happy with how i spent my time?

i don't know the answers - in fact, most days my head gets overwhelmed with trying to think of answers to those and so many other questions i have. i still don't know how to move forward. how our family is going to deal with things like Christmas, and birthdays - every time i think of my birthday, i can't see how i'm going to have fun because i picture her face poking round the corner of the front door and yelling 'Auntie Bid!' with that cheeky smile. but it won't be there.

i guess one day this will be the new normal. but how can things ever seem normal without her. i don't want them to. it seems wrong.

anyhow, that's where i'm at at the moment. a big confused mess of a brain, in the middle of grief. feeling for my brother and his family in the most raw way. and i need to find somewhere to sew this patch so i never forget her beauty...

for anyone wanting more detail on the circumstances of her death, the Daily Mail article provides the greatest level of detail and eye witness accounts.


  1. I agree with you. It's the pain of missing her that is overwhelming ... I pictured the grief in my own life is like having a 2 ton safe being dropped on me. Lying there with all my bones crushed, wondering how I can still live being in that much pain. It's not something you get over. It's nothing short of a miracle. God will breath life into the places you are crushed. And you will be able to carry "the missing her" with you. Let it hurt as bad as it hurts and trust Him to hold and heal you. Much love and prayers of comfort to you and you're family. P.S. sew the rose on your favorite jeans or jacket, it'll probably be the first of many roses.

  2. completely blown away by such beauty and grace laced through this, how much of a blessing you can be through such bitter-sweet. Thank you and well done you for sharing. love Hannah x

  3. The parts of Little Women where Beth is gone are not just fiction, the author lost her sister at a young age, and I have always believed that she was trying to help others with their grief somehow by writing about it.

    I am so so sorry for your pain.

    The parts you wrote about how God decides when each of us go to heaven actually made me feel a lot better about my dear grandmother, even four years after her passing.

    I hope you feel better and you are in my prayers :)

  4. Your little Rose will be so proud of her Auntie; that she managed to write this beautiful piece about her. My heart is breaking for you all. Wishing you all so much strength and love.xx

  5. This is quite possibly the most beautifully written blog post I've ever read. You write from the heart and I love that God has been with you. Your strength to write these words is admirable. Your circumstances made me think of the Bethel song 'It Is Well (With My Soul). This song gives me comfort even in the midst of storms xx

  6. Omg, how terrible, what a tragic loss. Stay strong, she is in heaven.


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