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When I Asked My Child How She'd Feel If I Don't 'Get Well Soon'

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To my beautiful daughter,

Recently you went to a friend’s house to play after school, and you loved it. You’ve never been able to have a friend over to play at our house, because of my illness. However, I know it would mean a lot to you, so I asked if you would like to try having this friend come over one day. Your eyes lit up, and you nodded. I asked if you’d like the girl’s sister to come too, and you said, “No, and no other friends either, because if there are too many children we’d get too excited.” I asked why wouldn’t you want to be excited; you just looked at me.

We both knew what you were thinking: too much noise makes mummy more ill. I asked if that’s what you meant, and you nodded.

I’m so sorry you have to think about things like that. You shouldn’t have to. You are only 5 years old. Thank you for thinking about my health needs and being careful around me. I’m more grateful than I can express. But I’m sorry you have to.

Last week you made me a beautiful “Get Well Soon” card, all on your own, with no help from Daddy or my carers or anyone. And although I love it and will treasure it, it brings a lump to my throat because I know you’re still hoping I’ll get well.

A "get well soon" card made by a child

I know it hurts you that I can’t go out and play with you, or cook your meals, or watch your swimming lessons, or even go to the doctor’s with you when you are sick. I would give anything to be able to be the mummy you deserve. I keep hoping and striving for better health, but the reality is things don’t look like they will improve any time soon, if at all. And I’m so worried about what that will do to you.

So when we were looking at the “Get Well Soon” card, after talking about your fantastic writing, and the lovely pictures you’d drawn, I asked how you will feel if I don’t get well. Will you be upset, disappointed, if years go by and I’m still this poorly?

Your response floored me: “No, I’ll just keep loving you.”

It reminded me of something else you said once, that you would rather have me for a mummy than a different mummy who is well, because I’m your mummy and I love you and you love me.

Thank you for being there for me, for loving me, for accepting all the sacrifices you have to make because of my illness. Thank you for knowing and understanding that I love you to the moon and back, even though I can’t do normal mummy things for and with you. Thank you for all the times you’ve made me smile despite me being in intense pain. Thank you for all the fun, laughter, joy and blessing that you bring to our lives. Thank you for your kindness, gentleness and thoughtfulness. You are only 5 years old, and you shouldn’t have to be so careful and thoughtful, but you are. You once said my superhero power is giving kisses and cuddles; well, your superhero power, my lovely girl, is all round awesomeness and a wisdom beyond your years.

And when I read a draft of this letter to you, so you’d know how proud I am of you and how grateful I am to you, at the end I asked you what you thought of it. This is Big Stuff; I thought you might get tearful, or maybe just be overwhelmed and change the subject. Instead, you went quiet for a moment, and looked deep into my eyes, and softly sang to me, “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.” It was the most perfect, mature, deep, beautiful response.

I know things are difficult for you, and for all of us as a family, but Daddy and I will keep doing all we can to give you as happy and carefree a childhood as possible.

We are so incredibly proud of you. Thank you for being you. We love you billions and trillions.

Rachel Higginson

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Originally published: January 30, 2016
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