I was never one who believed in that old wives tale ~ bad things happen in threes~ mind you, I had never heard it from anyone other than my mother, up until March 2008, that is.
It was a beautiful April’s morning, the sky was cloudless , birds were singing and I had just sent my eldest son Ethan to pre-school. My ‘free’ morning would be spent playing with my one year old baby ‘J’. I had no other plan until 12.30 pm when Ethan would come bursting through the door with his latest piece of art work.
My phone rang. I ignored it as I continued brushing my teeth. If it’s important they’ll ring back I mused as I spat the last mouthful of toothpaste into the sink.It rang again. I paused. 8.40 am, who the hell would be ringing me? I picked up the phone.
It was now my turn to ring. I sat on the cold tiled bathroom floor waiting for my life long friend to answer my third call. ” Morning” she finally answered. ” Siobhan’s dead, her mum too” I hung up. She rang me back to call me a liar, it was her turn to hang up.
Siobhan had been staying with me from Sunday until Thursday,for months, as D was away working. She was vibrant, loving and doted on my then two boys. Each evening she would come back with treats for the boys and me, as long as I had dinner on the table for her, I would get my bag of Doritos. Her laugh was infectious,high pitched and hyena like, she was always laughing. Siobhan was as cliche as this sounds, she was indeed full of life and I loved her.
That day passed in blur as our group of friends gathered around my small sitting room exchanging Siobhan stories, while D cooked up a storm in the kitchen. No one could understand, a freak accident and our friend and her mammy where gone, just like that. ~~Life takes~~ love your friends,openly and honestly. That was a harsh way to learn that lesson at 25 years old.
A year had passed. Life insist’s you mourn, you say your goodbyes and you find peace. I had finally done that, my kids and D helped me more than anyone can imagine. April came around again and we all had our own way of dealing with the now memory of our friend Siobhan. I was hanging out the boys clothes, as it was such a hot, unusually hot, Aprils day. I had just sent Ethan inside to watch Dora while ‘J’ took his afternoon nap. After hanging out their mini versions of mens clothes, I decided I needed a coffee. (anyone who knows me, knows coffee is one of my many vices!) Turning the kettle on, I strolled back into the sitting room, to make sure Ethan was sitting watching TV. He was throughly enjoying his programme a he danced and sang along with Dora, something he would be unable to do in later years.
I heard a huge bang. I jumped. It sounded like pots and pans had been thrown around the kitchen. Opening the sitting room door, I was met with a hallway full of thick dark smoke. The crackling of wood was getting louder. I closed the sitting room door, my hand still on the handle. I froze. I was shaking uncontrollably, I can’t explain this, but I just started moving, a calmness came over me as the realisation of the situation hit me. We had to get out.
Grabbing Ethan I opened the sitting room window, picked him up and I threw him out. He was screaming. There were people outside saying stuff to me, but I had to get ‘J’. I knew the front door was locked. I knew Ethan could not come back in, if I didn’t make it out. By now, I could not see the stairs. I started towards it and fell, coughing. Grabbing the rail, I dragged myself up the 13 steps. I was getting ‘J’ or I would die trying. That was really how I felt, that still gives me shivers today.
There was a small gaping hole outside ‘J’s bedroom, the flames were dancing, almost taunting me. I jumped across grabbing his door handle swinging it open as I landed. (I still have no idea how I, little old me, done all this) He was smiling, thank God. I grabbed him. I had to make that jump again. Coughing almost struggle to breath, I did it.
I ran so fast, I don’t even remember anything until I found myself and both boys outside . The house was letting out black clouds of smoke when I remembered our new family pet, Maddie.I handed ‘J’ to an onlooker, gave Ethan’s hand to another and I ran back in! I can’t believe I did that either. I shouldn’t have. I could hear roars of ‘No’s and Don’ts”. I knew Maddie was in the sitting room. Grabbing her small body I came back out, coughing more and far blacker.
The ambulance crew where the first to arrive, followed shortly by 3, yes 3 fire engines. Our street was closed off as they battled the fire for over an hour. D arrived white with shock, neighbours had rang him. I stood across the road watching my home go up in smoke, I literally had only the clothes on my back and the memories in my mind, no photo’s, no trinkets, no shoes, no bed, no cups,no nothing.
I learned over the following months there was an electrical fault, our smoke alarms would not have worked in time, I was and am, very thankful it happened during the day. ~~ Life teaches ~~ I learned how easy it is to become homeless.
Another year passes and we are back on our feet. We had spent Ethans early years trying to find out what was wrong with him. We were told repeatedly there was nothing wrong apart from a hearing impairment which explains the learning difficulties. It’s March now and almost a year since the fire, two since we last saw Siobhan, it is and always will be a hard time of year for me.
We were sitting in a pre-surgery ward, Ethan and I. Ethan was scheduled to get grommets into his ears for the fifth time, in three years. I was anxious, as Ethan never took to surgery well, we always ended up staying nearly a week in the hospital, even though most children leave the following day. We would later learn, this was because Ethan had (has) Hunter syndrome.
Ethan was groggy laying on the bed, fighting the tiredness. The ENT (ears, nose, throat) doctor came over and asked me to sign a form. I found myself refusing to. I was as shocked as he was! Suddenly, I was standing up telling him five sets of grommets in three years is crazy. I told him I would not sign that until I saw a children’s doctor. He told me I would have a long wait. I looked at Ethan, now sleeping, and smiled. ” That’s fine, we will wait”, I sat back down. He stormed off.
Hours passed as nurses, doctors and orderlies passed us by. Ethan woke up and was full of beans again.
We were shown to a waiting room where Ethan ran wild. I let him. There is only so much noise any receptionist can stand. I told her I needed to see a children’s doctor, ” A paediatrician, you mean”. ” Can you calm him a little?”, she nodded at Ethan.” That is him calm” I replied. Ten minutes later, a huge broad man with sliver hair entered the room. He walked over to me and shook my hand.” I’m Kevin Browne, I believe you caused a bit of bother here today trying to see me” , he stammered. I smiled, I felt my cheeks burn.” Come with me” , his huge frame towered over me.
Dr Browne listened to all my niggling doubts. He watched Ethan interact with toys and me. He stripped Ethan right down to his toes. He didn’t say much but wrote an awful lot. ” Yes mommy, there is something. I am going to take a blood sample and an urine sample”, he smiled at me as I struggled to get Ethan into his pants. ” So, what is it?”, I asked through sighs of relief, I added” So I am not an over anxious mum!”
A week went by, when Dr Browne rang me, I was told to come in at 11am, to bring another person with me. I panicked. D was great. He calmed me down, reminded me of the five years,almost six,I had begged for a doctor to listen to me. This doctor had and he had answers. ” We will collect Ethan on our way back and treat him” D winked.
Two hours later, in a dusty cluttered doctors office, Dr Browne had told us our son was terminally ill. There was no cure. He would be unlikely to reach the age of 20.
“Go home and love him”
~~Life loves~~ because of this horrible condition, I know love, I know what I would and could do for love. While it takes so so much, I have been given so so much.
So, do I believe bad things happen in threes….sometimes…my three stories were beyond hard to live through but, but they’ve taught me so much too. I appreciate that rainbow on a dull day, I laugh at things most parents would be giving out about, I know things can change in a split second~ one day your friend is always there, one day you have a home, one day you picture a future for your child~ the next day, none of that is there~ Life~