Dying bride aged five
Wedding was my Eileidh’s last wish
What a little family they made…
My five-yearold daughter Eileidh was wheeling a pram into the middle of the living room. Sitting in it was our tabby cat, Tinkerbelle, looking very put-upon!
And beside the pair of them was Harrison Grier, Eileidh’s six-year-old best friend.
‘I’m going to marry Eileidh when I’m older,’ Harrison announced as me and his mum, Stefanie, cracked up.
‘Do you accept his proposal?’ I asked Eileidh.
‘Yes,’ she told us solemnly. But there’d been a time when I couldn’t even picture a future for my little girl…
It had started when Eileidh was two. She’d suddenly begun breathing strangely. A chest infection, I wondered. Our GP sent us straight to hospital.
Scans, tests and lots of frowns followed. Then the results – a 6cm by 8cm tumour in her abdomen. I just started screaming. This was my toddler – full of beans and mischief. Yesterday, she’d been reaching into the tank to try to stroke our pet fish. The day before that, she’d painted her face with my blue eyeshadow.
And yet, the whole time, this tumour had been lurking, growing. It was a cancer called neuroblastoma – the tumour had ruptured an artery, filling her chest with blood, which was crushing her right kidney and right lung.
My other kids, Callum, 17, Ciaran, 11, and Cerys, 10, cried with me when I told them. But then it was time to dry my eyes.
Eileidh needed me strong as she started chemo and her beautiful blonde hair fell out.
‘I’m glad, Mummy,’ the little rascal announced.
She’d never liked anything on her head. It was always a fight to get a hat onto her. Now I realised it even extended to her own hair!
But she was fearless. Off she’d go for chemo, princess dress on, dummy in place.
And the poison worked – the tumour shrank, until it was small enough to be removed. Then Eileidh had a stem cell transplant.
When her hair came back, it had grown all kinky. We called her Tina Turner!
In May 2016, Eileidh went for one of her regular scans.
I was called in after. ‘There’s a tumour under Eileidh’s jaw,’ her doctor said. ‘What?’ I gasped.
The cancer had sneaked up on us again.
‘I’m home!’ Eileidh cheered, running on to the ward she’d left barely a year before.
But this time the chemo flattened her.
Thank goodness for Harrison. His visits could make her smile even when her mouth was full of ulcers.
One time, as he and Eileidh watched a film, Stefanie drew me aside.
‘I noticed one of my rings was missing,’ she giggled. ‘Harrison told me he was going to use it as an engagement ring.’
‘Oh, that’s so sweet,’
I chuckled. ‘Reckon it’s time to buy a hat!’
The cancer retreated again, but this time it left a little bit of terror behind in my heart.
Was it really gone? Or just lurking… waiting?
‘Please be gone for good,’ I prayed.
But in February this year, Eileidh complained that her mouth hurt.
Fear churned as I examined her. I could definitely feel a lump on the left-hand side of her jaw. It was back yet again.
‘I’m so sorry, there’s nothing more we can do,’ her doctors told me, helplessly.
‘This can’t be happening,’ I bawled.
When I rang Stefanie to tell her, she was distraught, too.
A couple of weeks later, I snuggled up to Eileidh.
‘What would you like to do most in the world?’ I whispered. She thought for a few seconds. ‘Marry Harrison,’ she said. Despite everything, I had a good old chuckle… This was real love!
I rang Stefanie and told her. ‘Harrison will be thrilled,’ she said.
‘I think we should do it,’ I told her. ‘You know, let them… ’
I explained what I was thinking. Then, Harrison and his mum came over.
‘Do you still want to marry Eileidh?’ I asked him.
He nodded. ‘It’s all I want to do,’ he said.
So we started planning. My little girl was dying and she was only five. Her bucket list consisted of one big day – and I was going to make sure she got it.
Eileidh adored princesses, and one of my friends, Zara, ran an entertainment company called Love Rara.
She’d sent some princesses to visit Eileidh in hospital.
‘Eileidh is going to be a bride a nd marry
Harrison,’ I told
A fairy-tale wedding Eileidh was so excited to ‘marry’ Harrison Eileidh’s ‘Tina Turner’ hair