Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a little girl watched her father crying by her bedroom window. She was 11 years old, in her pyjamas, and sitting up in her bunk bed. Her father had never cried before and before he said a word, she knew.
Her mother was dead.
She wasn’t coming back and everything would change.
That little girl was me and I was right. In the two years that followed my reality got turned on its head. My father died 18 months later after my mum and I went to live with family in another country.
In the space of two years I lost a happy childhood and began living in a world of grey. Broken and unable to find common ground with those around me I dived into books, they kept me safe and they understood but with each year that passed I forgot more about the laughing independent don’t-mess-with-me mother I loved and the quiet but generous father.
Every time I thought of my father I thought about how I’d failed him. How I hadn’t managed to make it work and how me being the carer* had broken our relationship – so I stopped thinking about him and with that I stopped remembering all the good things.
It wasn’t until I was 21 that I managed to rebuild myself – but by that stage I’d lost so many memories.
Think about that for a moment.
*My father was registered 100% disabled. After my mum died I did the cooking, washing, shopping, etc. Looking back at it now, at that age I was in no way able to cope with all of this but while logic says it wasn’t my fault I still wish I could go back and fix that.
I remember walking past a hospital room one day. The room appeared to be sealed off and its white walls and sterile smell didn’t fit in the otherwise colourful children’s hospital. The people inside wore gowns and gloves to keep the risk of infection to a bare minimum.
It looked like the scene from a thriller – Outbreak, or something.
Instead, what I saw were the effects of a bone marrow transplant. I remember staring at the room while the whole process flashed around in my head. A transplant meant harvesting marrow through a needle in your hip. It meant severe chemotherapy to destroy all the remaining marrow in your body. It meant not knowing what would happen next.
I don’t remember if the patient was a boy or a girl, I just remember standing there, aged 12, thinking it might be me.
Up to that point, I’d spent a lot of time in several hospitals; after that moment, I’d spent even more time in medical care because my immune system was doing everything it shouldn’t and nothing it should. Standing outside that room is one of many memories that would forever stay with me. The others? Going to a sea aquarium with other patients. Being allowed to wander around the off-limits section of a military airport (hey, I’m a geek!). Ice cream on an afternoon away from the hospital. Singing along on the top of my voice to Meat Loaf songs at the hospital school’s dance. The colours and laughter of a family room.
Because the only thing that outweighs not knowing if tomorrow is still there is living today to the fullest, together with family and friends. The charity Donna’s Dream House gives children and teens with life-threatening diseases the chance to make those memories and live those dreams. At least, it did. Until right before holidays, part of the main building was torched beyond repair.
They were forced to cancel Christmas for the families set to stay there.
Think about that for a moment.
The reason Write Dreams is so important is because the faster we get Donna’s Dream House back on its feet the faster we can help another family build important memories. Memories that will help those left behind carry on, and memories that will bring a smile to those kids that know they won’t have much time left.
Please visit Write Dreams, we have so many wonderful donations and you are helping in ways that can’t be expressed in words.