Our beautiful cheeky chubby little Hugo died in our arms after contracting a rare form of bacterial Meningitis and septicaemia. It was the 10th April 2014 and he had turned exactly 20 months. This was a sudden tragedy and we are still trying to understand why this has happened to him. The meningitis took effect rapidly and even when we had raised alarm bells in its early stages there was nothing that anyone could have done to save his life. We stayed at his bedside every day at Epsom Hospital and when Hugo was rushed to intensive care at King’s College Hospital, still fighting his infections, he was given a few days to live. He held out until the day that his grandparents and uncles arrived from Hong Kong and although unconscious, he gave them a precious and final 6 hours of love and farewells. He died surrounded by all his loving family. Our grief is hard to bear and the sense of longing for our poor baby permeates every part of our daily lives.
Hugo loved iPhones, iPads, storytime with Daddy and Jasper, chasing Jasper around the house, eating soya ice cream, splashing at bathtime and getting everybody wet, going to the park and pulling flowers apart, watching Your Baby can Read, riding horsey horsey on everyone, sliding down mummy’s legs, getting granddad to blow cold the food in his mouth, getting grandmum to pick him up whenever he felt like it, dancing to Lady Gaga, doing Insanity with Mummy, swimming with Mummy at Waterbabies, blowing bubbles in the bath, sweeping the floor with a broom, playing in the garden, singing the okey-cokey, playing row row row the boat on the musical book, playing with his bedroom light switch, climbing on the step in the kitchen to reach for food and crashing into the Fatboy beanbag in the living room.
Hugo’s death was unexpected, transforming our lives and our perception of everything that we hold dear. We will never live the same way again without him and we are slowly learning to accept that we must suffer our loss forever. Numb with grief and in disbelief that our loving little boy is no longer with us, Simon and I decided to raise awareness of this potentially fatal disease and in Hugo’s memory we set up a Just Giving website (www.justgiving.com/hugowong) to raise funds for the MeningitisNow charity. We asked friends and family to consider donations rather than teddies or flowers of sympathy. We hope Hugo can feel proud that he can help to do good even though he is not here in person but in spirit.
Hope and healing
One of the hardest things that we had to experience was to face our social community with this news. We wanted to shut ourselves in. There is no preparation to deal with this devastating scenario and at times it still feels surreal. We had to find ways to cope and ways to engage people. Fundraising was a natural and healing outlet but we developed a spontaneous passion for positivity which led to Hugo’s Celebration of Life Day.
We decided to follow our hearts on what we wanted the day to achieve, guided not by tradition but by the principle that if Hugo were there what would he enjoy, what would make him laugh. The Celebration of Life Day was held on the 4th May 2014 at the Nonsuch Mansion. It was an amazing day to remember our beautiful baby boy with lots of family present, friends of Hugo and his brother Jasper, our work colleagues and Hugo’s nursery careers and Waterbabies swim teachers and swim buddies. We made sure that Hugo’s presence was ubiquitous with his photographs, movies and sounds throughout the mansion. We sourced soft play toys, lawn games, kites and Hugo’s Nursery carers even setup an arts and crafts station for the kids. Of course it was extremely emotional talking face to face with our community for the first time since Hugo died, however seeing lots of friends and their children playing in the beautiful mansion gardens deeply settled Simon and I and we felt that we could move on with our lives a little better.
A new normal
Hugo had a private and peaceful funeral service in the following week surrounded by all his immediate family. As parents still grieving for the death of our young child, we want to ensure his memories lives on, so we set up this blog to record our memories of Hugo and to help us document our pain and emotions and to help Jasper through his grieving for his dearest little brother. We feel that it will be a cathartic experience to be open about our feelings of Hugo and possibly it could also help others who are also grieving a death of a young child.
Eva, Simon and Jasper