If you've been following my blog for a little while, you know that recently one of my friends, Lee-ann, lost her two year old son. It was terribly shocking news and, unsurprisingly, it has knocked everyone sideways, even those who did not know the family terribly well. There's just something so frighteningly unnatural in losing your child that way. It was an unexpected death, he hadn't been ill, and his family still don't have any real answers to the cause of his death.
When a child dies like this, it makes everything else fall into perspective. It has made me realise just how utterly fundamentally life-affirmingly important my own children are to me, even when they are being little sods (which happens quite a lot ;o). I have never made any secret of finding motherhood extremely demanding - but maybe I do whinge too much. Really, I have the most important things in life right here before me, don't I? Says I, currently irritated so much that my teeth itch, by silly questions, mardy teenagers, too-loud television, homework not done, meals and snacks that are constantly whined for, siblings fighting, constant attention seeking behaviour etc etc etc. But even so, these are the days that I will look back on when I am old and grey and, as much as I moan, I cannot imagine for a single moment how awful it would be if one of them were taken away.
After any death, I think it's natural to feel completely impotent. If I could have done anything, no matter how big, to change William's death or take away his family's pain then I would have done it. As it stands, there's very little one can do, is there? Other than contemplate life, and feel one's own pain and imagine the horror that the immediate family are feeling.
Right from the start, Sophia, William's big sister, said that the family should have a party to remember William. And so Lee-ann and Mark began planning a celebration of William's life, rather than a funeral. In a very touching tribute they requested that all adults and children that could not attend the funeral jump on their beds at 2pm. A lot of people joined in, and a lot of fun was had in William's name.
Lee-ann mentioned to me that she wanted a Guest Book in which funeral guests recalled their memories of William. Immediately I saw a way in which I could help in some small way, so I offered to make one. Amongst William's favourite things were: the colour orange; 2 pence pieces, especially when whizzed down those swirly charity boxes; daisies; jumping in puddles; bubbles and dandelion clocks. I wanted to include as many of these items as I could.
Here is my tribute to sweet William:
It was emotionally tough to make, but not nearly as emotionally tough as it was for it's recipients, I'm sure. It was important to me to make it well and to get it right too. I nearly had a complete meltdown when my husband, without really looking, said that the back cover looked like a happy boy on a cloud! Yikes, how inappropriate would that be?! Thankfully, after looking carefully he agreed it did not, and friends back this up and so it was sent off (with me having palpitations until it was received and approved of!)
Technically, I really enjoyed the mix of sewing, applique and both hand and machine embroidery. I was very unsure how to tackle the bubbles, but machine sewing circles onto bits of voile worked really well as it made them stand proud, as well as being transparent. If I could go back and change anything, I would make the fabric onto which I embroidered the dandelion clocks less patterned as I think it's hard to see them. Also, I made the picture on the back a little too wide, so a sliver of the umbrella slides off the edge. This was me getting carried away with making the picture on a deliberately cut-too-big piece of fabric; I wasn't careful enough at measuring the size of the finished book.
Anyway, you live and learn, and this was one of those projects that meant a lot to me. On reflection, I am pleased with what I created and I learned some important lessons that will help me to progress further with future projects.
I'm also incredibly grateful to Lee-ann for letting me share something so private. Sleep tight, William. My memory of you will always be how much you made your Mummy smile x