I’ve been so lucky to have a great group of friends to support me through the loss of Alex but my best friend Kerry definitely deserves a special mention. Our parents live opposite each other and we have grown up together always being the best of friends. No matter where we have been or what we have done we always come back to each other and nothing changes, the very definition of friendship I think most would agree. Our friendship truly showed its worth when I lost Alex. I felt so ashamed, I wondered if people would think, like I did, that I had done something wrong and I was devastated that people wouldn’t want to see my beautiful boy because he wasn’t alive. For those reasons, I didn’t want to see anyone at all, I didn’t know what to say to them and I couldn’t bear to see anyone’s distaste towards Alex. It felt safer to exist in our little bubble of grief with Alex and my family rather than risk inviting other people into it and possibly causing more upset.
So, in true Kerry style, she did what exactly what I needed without even knowing it. She just marched in and picked up my baby. She held him, rocked him and cuddled him exactly as she had with William and Thomas when they were born. She commented on his long fingers and toes, she picked out the similarities to his brothers and told me he was perfect. That moment in time helped me more than I can ever explain. She erased some of my fears and lifted a few of the worries from my shoulders. Her actions showed me that people wouldn’t be afraid to see Alex and most of all I could clearly see that she loved him. It broke my heart all over again to think of the relationship Alex should have had with his Auntie Kez but it meant so much that they got to meet each other and we all got to make a memory. Even now, further down the line in our life after loss I still find Kerry to be one of my most important support mechanisms, she met Alex and saw the depths of our sorrow and because of that she ‘gets it’ more than most.
So why am I telling you about this? Well, a few months ago Kerry came to me and asked if she could raise some money in Alex’s memory. The reply was obviously, ‘of course!’ And it was decided that a bike ride to Cornwall would be the perfect challenge. Cornwall is a special place for our family, I have been going every year since I was a child, in fact I’ve missed most of Kerry’s birthdays due to being down there every year in August. After Alex’s funeral, Rob and I escaped down there for a few days away to gather our thoughts. I needed to hear the waves and smell the sea air since the first day we lost Alex. It brings me so much peace. So Kerry, her sister Katie and Katie’s partner Jayne are riding the 380 miles to Cornwall on spin bikes. The event will be held outside Pure Gym at Bentley Bridge, Wednesfield on the 2nd September so anyone local who fancies coming along to cheer them on you will be more than welcome!
Over the years Kerry and I have tried a multitude of things to get fit and lose weight. We’ve dieted, we’ve joined gyms and we’ve tried exercise classes. We even tried a personal trainer once and quit after feeling totally broken for a week afterwards! I’ll never forget him making her jog for 5 minutes on the treadmill and her shouting that she couldn’t do it and nearly having a tantrum in the middle of the gym! I think after all these years we’re finally starting to accept that we’d rather go out and eat cake or drink wine than exercise or diet. So it’s definitely safe to say that this will be a massive challenge for Kerry who probably doesn’t even remember how to get on a bike, never mind ride one for that distance!!
I can’t think of a more deserving charity to raise money for than 4Louis. When Alex was born and the room had calmed down a bit I so clearly remember the midwife coming in with the box. She sat down and quietly went through it with us, even through my sadness I remember feeling so incredibly amazed and grateful that someone could be so thoughtful as to create something like a memory box for parents in our position. I had no idea that such a thing even existed and I can’t say how glad I am that they do! We had three short days to collect and make enough memories to last us a lifetime and the memory box was a vital part of that. Our box is one of my most precious possessions as it’s pretty much all we have of our little boy. 4Louis make memory boxes for children who have passed away at all ages, each box is tailored for the age of the child. The boxes help families to feel less alone and to capture as many precious memories as they can. It contained so many beautiful things all thoughtfully wrapped in tissue paper:
A clay impression kit to capture Alex’s beautiful long fingers and toes
Forget Me Not seeds which we will plant in Alex’s memory garden
A balloon and a postcard to send a message to heaven-we are saving this for Alex’s first birthday
A curl box to keep a lock of Alex’s hair
An SD card so that we could take as many photos as we wanted to
Two teddies, one for Alex and one for us
A copy of the wonderful book Guess How Much I Love You
A candle and a card to write a message to Alex
£30 is all we need to provide one devastated family with a memory box to help ease their pain and give them lasting memories of their child. So even if you can only spare a pound or two to sponsor Kerry, Katie and Jayne we would all be so grateful and it will go a long way to helping other families cope with the loss of their precious child. Please click on the link below to donate.
Rachel & Alex xx