Overlooking the cosily covered thick snowy blanketed buildings, I am really feeling blessed that it is my rest day today. I have a time to reflect on my week and my memories. And to write a blog.
Last Sunday, 11th of March, I woke up at 5 am with a huge headache. It was Mother’s Day. It was a start of my third walk of love. And I was very apprehensive about these imminent challenges.
I didn’t want to face my own reality. All I wished for was to call my mum and tell her how much I loved and missed her. And afterwards, just stay in the bed waiting until my beautiful daughter would treat me with her cute drawings and with her so affectionate cuddling.
Instead, thinking about them both being in heaven, I took two painkillers. Then I packed Elizabeth’s photo into my rucksack, put on the pink walking gear and stepped outside to start a new walking chapter which might well continue for the rest of my life.
Firstly, I visited the C of E St James School in Cheltenham. The school which my daughter loved wholeheartedly and which hosted a Mothering service that Sunday. It was such a fitting synchronicity especially as Reverend Natalie kindly offered to bless me with a special prayer for the following journey.
So, I walked to the school. Just like I did so many times together with my little Elizabeth. Millions of images flashed inside of my mind, dipping me once again into the most precious moments of my entire life.
Here she was rushing to me with her sticking out, who-knows-why unplaited hair. Mummy, mummy, mummy… Swirling around the hall in her beautiful yellow party dress… Proudly showing a star reward that she stickered to her shoe…and a missing button on her uniform…Chatting, endlessly…
Until suddenly, she is there – silently greeting me from the photo that now lives on the piano, decorated in her memory by the lovely rainbow handprints of her school-friends…
l cried. Even though I wasn’t able to cry for the last six months. But now, I just couldn’t hold the tears. Oh! How could l manage being so broken down before I even started the day?!
The service was really beautiful. Loving. Heart warming. At the end, children went around with flower baskets, sweetly spreading the posies to the adults. l got two. And cried again.
Afterwards, my friend Sara drove me to my official starting point at the A&E of the Cheltenham General Hospital. The place where on the morning of 22nd November, two years ago, I was hastily carrying Elizabeth holding her in my arms for the very last time.
I honestly didn’t expect that so many people would come to send me off! There were my friends and my supporters. People I knew and I didn’t. And the group of nurses and the doctor who tried so hard to stabilise Elizabeth on that unforgettable day. All encouraging me with their supportive hugs and their lovely wishes.
About 11.45am my third walk of love began. The sun generously poured glorious light and warmth on our region, it felt like I received a special blessing from the skies.
A colourful crowd followed me out of the town until my route turned to the extremely muddy field. Still, there were some brave ladies ready to walk with me up to the end.
Now, I promised to write an honest, real account, didn’t l? And as you know life wouldn’t be real life without unexpected, and often embarrassing, mishaps. Hence I had one too despite my best precaution not to.
I was crossing a bridge thinking about the marvellous spring when Majella (a lovely lady who walked behind me), kindly said that there was something falling out of my trousers. Immediately l knew that l was in an indelicate situation.
Well, it wasn’t just something but my black knickers! (before you even ask – a spare one) Oh, my word! I honestly have no slightest idea how these ended up being there (perhaps it was my cheeky Elizabeth, wanting her Mummy to smile on such a special day) but I very much thank God that they didn’t show up somewhere earlier. Especially when I was receiving my holy blessing, standing in the middle of the school hall!
Rest of the journey was quite normal. We had some incredible mud that added a lot of weight to our footwear. We followed a wrong path that lead us right into the bramble bushes and we practised our team skills while crossing a ditch and climbing a tall barbed wired fence.
We came to Gloucester one hour earlier than we planned so there was a stop for a coffee before we officially finished at the children unit of Gloucester General Hospital.
The lovely nurses there organised a very welcoming reception in support of Elizabeth’s Footprint. With loads of hot drinks and really delicious cakes.
A kind nurse (who looked after Elizabeth while she was in Gloucester), invited me to see the room where Elizabeth spent the last hours of her conscious life.
First, I hesitated. Then, l went in.
Because I had too. Despite the obvious pain, l wanted to relive once again our last minutes together. These precious moments, when l was holding her hand, still believing that she had nothing really serious…
When she was playing with a bright pink light on her finger which she though was a Christmas fairy but not a device that measured her oxygen level.
When, just a second before being put into the induced coma, she gave me the most profound look that said she knew everything more than I did. That it was time for her to go even though she desperately wanted to stay. That it was such a painful goodbye but, in the same time an inspiring promise that it wasn’t forever… One day we WILL meet again.
I left the hospital and finished the day. And finished the week, somehow covering over one hundred miles. Emotionally filled right to the edges of my whole being and cushioned with love and kindness…
My boots are resting in the corner of someone else’s home, ready to take me tomorrow far beyond the horizon I can see out of someone else’s window.
Through snow. Through rain. Through sun.
From Sunday to Sunday…