For Hugo For Life

A family's longing for a child lost to Meningitis


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Walking for Hugo at Nonsuch Park, Surrey

mainSunday 29th June turned out to be a truly amazing day to do a charity 1 mile walk in Hugo’s memory at the Nonsuch Park. Simon and I are truly blessed to have such a wonderful school community who we have only known for a year and a half through Jasper attending preschool, reception class and after school club. Hugo was always around me when I went to drop off and pick up Jasper.

Just from the collection buckets alone, £440 and still more is to be added to the amazing total on JustGiving pages set up by Jo McAneny and other parents too. A special thanks to Jo, Tor and Gerry for the work that they put in to conceptualise and organise this event. We thank everyone deeply for their work to raise money and for devoting a morning to walk the mile with us. Hearing Hugo’s name mentioned in everyone’s conversations today made him feel alive again. This walk has also brought me closer to the school mums who we have become friends and I am a little more comfortable in expressing my feelings.

Before the walk commenced, Jo McAneny,myself, Steve Dayman (founder of Meningitis Now) and Simon said a few words. We thanked everyone for being there and gave an update about what has been raised so far. It was so heartfelt to witness the turn out of so many generous people who sympathised with my family and wanted to raise awareness. Steve mentioned rightly that there is always more charity work to be done particularly with the push for the MenB vaccine to be made available to all infants on the NHS (currently only available on private health insurance)  as there is currently no vaccine for this strain of Meningitis.

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The kids had great fun. Just before the countdown for the walk Simon mentioned to all the children that this is not a race! But of course as soon as the word “go!” had been shouted and the orange ribbon barrier was down, we had over 50 kids charging across the start line! The mass of walkers thinned out naturally and it was amazing to see a sea of orange spreading along the grassy path of the 1 mile route.
For those based in the Epsom area, look out for a potential article in the Epsom Guardian about Hugo’s walk. Thanks to Emma for putting them in touch with the event. Also, thank you to Andy and Glenn who were running around snapping away with their big boy cameras.
I’d say Sunday has been an emotional day for me, my grief for Hugo tried to emerge from my speech but soon took over me as I started to walk. The sunshine reminded me that Hugo was ok , he brought those warm sun rays on us to walk away happy and loved. As I walked, I recognised Hugo has been here before too. I remember I used to visit this park with Jasper learning how to right his first bike with his daddy, uncles and I was pushing Hugo in his buggy crossing the same paths and grassy areas. It felt like he was walking with me again………..I could imagine him running after the rest of the kids, falling and rolling around on the grass. I’m so proud and comforted by all the efforts and support from everyone. Thank you from us four. XXxx
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A day before the house move

Packing before the move

Hugo amongst the boxes in the lounge

This is my last post in the house before we move property. I’ve been a bit control freakish recently, ensuring that I prepped our belongings for the professional packers before they commenced work, to make it easier for them. Lift and shift was the idea, but I hated the idea of not knowing where everything was after the removals team had put everything in boxes, so I tidied up and organised stuff into their rightful drawers first. My investment would surely make pay off when unpacking. But I also wanted Hugo’s things separately and clearly marked so that it wouldn’t be lost amongst the melange of family items.

As a means of settling Hugo when he arrives at his new house, I put his favourite things in our suitcase for easy access. A Row Row Row your boat musical book will be one of the first things played in the house. Jasper seems indifferent to the move, not overly interested about the complete change to his home environment over the course of the following day, despite repeated but gentle reminders by his worried parents. Perhaps he has got it right; after all, we are still the same people with same behaviours and prejudices socialised and embedded over many years. I do acknowledge that the environment can play an important part of our wellbeing. So time will tell how this house will change my family but I know that we have a massive opportunity to make our mark.

We will find a little spot for Hugo. It won’t be anything like a shrine, more like a quiet space where we feel him alive again, contemplate his life in peace, maybe a photo or two. Hopefully a sunny spot will make itself known to us for this reason. Hugo has seen the place in passing seated in our car but has never set foot inside during viewings. I am drawn to imagining him running through the house if he were alive or having bath time or bedtime with mummy and daddy. He would still be sleeping in our bed. If only he was still alive.

Eva’s brothers came over today to see us and consequently were roped into doing hard labour in the garden. We have two baby trees that were planted when we first moved into Stoneleigh. One is a Grand Fir (Christmas Tree) and the other is a Korean Fir. The Korean Fir blossomed like crazy over the year and a half that we have lived here as a family. It has these beautiful purple cones that project vertically and needles for leaves that are not at all prickly but are in fact quite soft and densely packed on each branch. Its appearance is stocky and tends to grow as wide as it grows tall so it actually looks like a cuddly toy tree. This was not lost on Hugo either who used to stomp, waddle and fall over to the Korean Fir at the back of the garden to pat and cuddle the plant, which was initially the same height as Hugo. We know it as the Hugo Tree now. It is uprooted and ready to be taken today, along with the Grand Fir to be replanted in the new garden. It is a small thing, but I take a little comfort in believing that something of Hugo’s life will continue to grow near his daddy, in the tree that has had the physical touch and attention of my precious boy.

It was Father’s day just gone. I know Hugo, so do I, daddy.

 

 


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Moving on

hugo in garden It is said that house buying and selling is one of the most stressful times one could face in their life. My experience of it pales in comparison when reflecting on the worries and pain in dealing with the days leading up to Hugo’s death and my life in the present day. We were enduring severe stress as we were facing a modern day horror and were potentially going to move house four days after Hugo had died. As it turned out, with a series of delays on this house purchase, it has enabled us to arrange Hugo’s beautiful celebration day and his private funeral the way we wanted and we are moving on to a new beginning.

Looking back, we would not have achieved things for Hugo if we had moved house earlier and I would imagine our grieving process would not have been so gradual in its journey with such an immediate house move. From the day I came back from the hospital without Hugo, I was in floods of tears whereever I went because everything in front of me reminded me of him so much and I was in the most unbearable heart wrenching pain. My body sometimes shook uncontrollably, having shortness of breath, feeling dizzy moving about and becoming weak and cold. There was nothing that we could have done to prepare us for everything that was happening to us. We had no choice but to take every hit and deal with each day the best way we could. Simon, you are my rock.

bookshelfThe fact that we are about to move house hasn’t really sunk in yet. There is lots to do such as changing address, packing up our house and organising our move. I have mixture of feelings that I know I’ll have to come to terms with very soon as I am leaving the house Hugo had spent most of his life in.

There are lots of memories here like, I used to hold Hugo’s hands and shadow run with him after Jasper from the bath via the corridor to my bedroom and then Jasper would hide and then we would call out “Jasper, Jasper where are you?….. come and get me!” then Jasper would appear from hiding and chase after us, Hugo in fits of laughter and I would run as fast as we can back to the bathroom, we would do this over and over again.

bathtimeI will miss the garden where they used to play football and to help me pick up the apples that had fallen off our old and huge apple tree. We used to sit on the grass and have lots of picnics there during last summer. I will really miss the bath that he shared with Jasper as many fun bath times were had with so much splashing and laughter. I will miss the lower cupboards in the kitchen where Hugo used to open to pull out my nice crockery and tins. I will really miss the book case where he pulled out his baby books from the bottom two shelves and I will miss his hand prints on Jasper’s bedroom window from when he stood on the window sill with me, pointing at the birds and trees in the garden –  I remember Hugo would squash his face on the glass and smack his hand from the inside to scare the birds away…..so many parts of the old house that I will leave behind that still trigger those memories.

Packing his toys, books, nappies, clothes and shoes etc. away in boxes is still very hard for me as each thing I pick up triggers my grief and reminds me that he is physically not here again and I start welling up with tears. I do dread the day when I have to leave, closing the door and locking it for the last time. There is no doubt,  I will get really emotional and my grief will consume me but I will make sure that I’ll call out for Hugo to leave with us and to follow his family to the new house to start the beginnings of the new normal life. Let’s go Hugo, come with mummy x

 

 

 


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Missing you

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Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and was thinking about Hugo and how he would adapt living in the new house when we move eventually. If there were any spirits in the new house I would ask them to embrace my family and look after Hugo as well. I then was reading Simon’s latest post he shared and agreed that in whatever form Hugo might come busting through our bedroom door I would not be scared and would accept him without any hesitation.
My thoughts about Hugo wandered back to when he was away for whole days at his nursery while I was working in the City. The carers used to tell me that Hugo had a lovely day but on several occasions when going through his family photo album he would cry every time when he came across the photo of himself with mummy and it’s because he realises mummy has been away for a whole day and he misses her. The photo was taken during a hot summers day at Chessington adventure park in 2013.
Hugo has died nearly two months ago now, it’s a long time and I kept thinking that if he misses me he should talk to me in my dreams. Please Hugo come to mummy’s dream.
I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. I started dreaming……….we were in our sitting room watching TV in the late afternoon. My dad was on the sofa reading his newspaper, Simon’s dad was just standing around looking at Hugo’s photos near our book shelf and I was sat on the end of our white sofa. I said to all of them, please don’t be scared and Hugo is sleeping upstairs.
I suddenly got off the sofa and sensed that I should be going upstairs to check on Hugo and found him in Jasper’s room standing with one foot on the side of the bed and the other on the wooden stepper. He was calling for me as he was stepping down and off the bed. I came to him, carried him in my arms and took him downstairs to see everyone. I kissed and cuddled him really tight and it felt so real. When we got down the stairs, I felt that everyone had knew that I was cradling air and sat down back on the end of my white sofa. I picked up the small ball near by my foot and tossed it up to play with Hugo. He really enjoyed it and laughed away. Simon’s mum came into the room and realised Hugo was in my arms in spirit and joined in to play too. She also took Hugo off me and gave him big hugs and kisses and handed Hugo back to me.
My mum came into the room and sat next to me. By then I was grabbing the bigger football and with Hugo sitting on my lap, we played catch with Jasper and Simon just like old times. We took a rest and I turned to my mum and said “can you see Hugo? His hand has reached across to touch you for a bit of a squeeze”. My mum replied, yes dear, I can feel his little chubby hand. Then I woke up from my dream as Simon’s alarm went off.
I told Simon immediately this morning and we both sat on the bed and cried. We both realised that Hugo missed mummy and he came to my dreams. I felt happy I dreamt about him but also extremely sad that he is not actually here physically. I am still missing my baby so much. The dream was so real and the cuddles and kisses and laughs all felt so vivid that I didn’t want to wake up! However, the more I want to see him the more sad it is when I realise it is only in my dreams that I can. I want him here with me so badly – this is the grief that takes over and it hurts so much. I still can’t imagine how I can be less sad over time.
Hugo’s family photo album consists of a series of laminated photos with Jasper, Daddy, all the grand parents and his uncles. The carers made it into a lovely album that he could flick through when he was feeling a little upset during the long day at nursery. Every time he comes across this particular photo of him and mummy, he would always cry to a point where the carers had to take it away for a while. It’s so sweet when I heard this from the carers as it made me realise that he really misses mummy being away from him more than anyone else, mummy was his world (and daddy of course). It was a special bond between us, we had never been apart for long days until he started fulltime nursery. This family album accompanied Hugo inside his small white little coffin. Now he can look at them wherever he is, whenever he wants.
I love you always Hugo. Mummy kisses forever xxx

 

 


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heaven’s gates

So many parallels, Hugo died at the same hospital as Kings College on the 10th April 2014 from Meningitis caused brain swelling and failure. He was 20 months old and passed so suddenly. Reading this post about the hospital experience brings the hurt right my core, references jumping out such as “flu types symptoms, CT scans, seizure, kept alive by machines, unclipped the tubes”. Atheist but feeling a human need for religion to believe that he is living in another form, not obliterated from existence and to guarantee my reunion with my boy when I go. If I woke up tomorrow and saw Hugo stomping through the bedroom door, I would accept him in a heartbeat, no questions asked, no fear of the preposterous defiance of nature. My heart goes out to Bill and family for their pain, one father to another.

Life as a Widower

This is a guest post written by Bill Wright

In January 2013 Bill (37) and wife Mandy (36) were excitedly making plans to buy a bigger ‘forever’ house. They had just overcome the initial shock and worries of coping with three children, rather than the planned two, when their twins Ed and Anni were born in 2010 following Bella, born in 2007. Bill had never felt happier his whole life, but then Anni unexpectedly died without warning on 8 January 2013 from a brain tumour. Bill was initially drawn to my blog as I also have a two-year-old son, Jackson, who is grieving and confused. Bill later found out that Ed and Anni share the same birthday as Jackson and that, tragically, Anni died in the same hospital where Jackson was born.

Our two-year-old daughter, Anni, died unexpectedly from a brain tumour on Tuesday 8th January 2013 after we…

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