My tragic girl sent me a let­ter from Heaven

Teresa Mccormick, 36, War­ren­point, North­ern Ire­land

Chat It's Fate - - Contents -

Lis­ten­ing to my 11-year-old daugh­ter Court­ney singing like an an­gel, tears sprang to my eyes. She was crazy about Justin Bieber and she wanted to per­form

Favourite Girl for me on her X-fac­tor juke. ‘Well done, Dar­ling, that was great!’ I clapped en­thu­si­as­ti­cally as she stood beam­ing in the mid­dle of our liv­ing room.

That was Court­ney all over, al­ways try­ing to make me smile. She was a typ­i­cal girly girl, her room plas­tered with Justin Bieber posters and white but­ter­flies.

As Court­ney grew into a teenager, she doted on her broth­ers Cay­den, now five, and Kaige, six. And she was my best friend, al­ways look­ing af­ter me.

Throat pain

In March 2016, when Court­ney was 16, she started com­plain­ing about a pain when she swal­lowed.

She he was re­vis­ing hard for her GCSES so our GP put it down to stress or acid re­flux, but mother’s in­stinct told me some­thing just wasn’t right.

‘Enough’s enough,’ I de­cided the next day when she came home from school cry­ing, strug­gling to even swal­low wa­ter. ‘We’re go­ing straight to A&E.’

We were in and out of hos­pi­tal as doc­tors ran tests.

‘We’ve We’ve found a 2cm tu­mour on Court­ney’s oe­soph­a­gus,’ an on­col­o­gist ex­plained. ‘It’s small cell car­ci­noma, an ag­gres­sive type of oe­sophageal can­cer.’

Can­cer. The word no par­ent wants to hear. I gulped hard, try­ing to hold back tears. But Court­ney saw my pain.

‘Don’t worry, Mummy,’ she soothed, al­ways try­ing to look af­ter me. ‘I’m go­ing to get bet­ter, you

wait and see.’

So brave

Court­ney un­der­went a four-and-a-half hour op­er­a­tion at Craigavon Area Hos­pi­tal and spent 10 days in in­ten­sive care. Weeks later, my lass in­sisted on sit­ting her GCSES.

Then came the real test - six rounds of chemo­ther­apy.

‘Mummy, I want to do­nate my hair to the Lit­tle Princess Trust,’ Court­ney told me. ‘I don’t want it to fall out on my pil­low.’

Like ike most teenagers, Court­ney’s long blonde hair was her pride and joy. My heart swelled with pride at her brav­ery.

We made an ap­point­ment at our lo­cal hair­dresser, T1 Hair and Tan­ning Stu­dio, and I took Court­ney shop­ping for a pretty wig and colour­ful ban­danas. The stylist ar­ranged the cut and shave in a room with­out any mir­rors, then care­fully styled her wig to look just like real hair.

The ag­gres­sive chemo re­ally took its toll. My beau­ti­ful girl was so sick and her weight plum­meted from 11st to just 7st in a mat­ter of months.

Af­ter her fourth round of treat­ment, she couldn’t take any more, and doc­tors agreed she could stop early as the can­cer had gone.

Happy teen

The fol­low­ing year, 2017, she was back to be­ing a nor­mal teenager, hang­ing out with her mates and go­ing to the cin­ema with her boyfriend Corey. A lovely lad, he’d been by her side through the whole or­deal.

I snapped so many pho­tos when he took her to her school for­mal, care­fully pin­ning her pretty cor­sage to her wrist.

But at the back of my mind there was a nag­ging fear. What if the can­cer came back?

In Jan­uary 2018, my worst night­mare came true.

‘I have a pain in my side, Mummy,’ Court­ney ex­plained, rub­bing her kid­ney area.

Our on­col­o­gist con­firmed my fears. The can­cer was back, in Court­ney’s lung and liver.

And tests showed that this time it was ter­mi­nal.

Court­ney drew up a bucket list

of things she wanted to do, in­clud­ing date nights with Corey, a fly­ing les­son, a fam­ily bar­be­cue and a girly spa week­end with me. T Then her hair sa­lon owner phoned me. ‘We’ve been do­ing some fundrais­ing,’ she said. ‘Would you be of­fended if we bought tick­ets for you and Court­ney to go to Dis­ney­land Paris?’ Mag­i­cal­times

So, in March, Court­ney and I flew to France. I hate roller­coast­ers but de­cided to make an ex­cep­tion for my girl. As we plunged into a dark tun­nel. all I could hear was Court­ney wet­ting her­self laugh­ing as I was scream­ing in ter­ror.

But Court­ney was fad­ing fast. The can­cer was spread­ing like wild­fire.

Corey moved in. I was so grate­ful he’d helped my girl ex­pe­ri­ence true love - some peo­ple never get that. He slept in Court­ney’s room, while she stayed on a hos­pi­tal bed in the liv­ing room and I slept be­side her on the sofa.

On 14 May 2018, my beau­ti­ful daugh­ter drew her last breath, with me by her side singing Favourite Girl. Growing her an­gel wings at just 18 years old. Be­fore efore she died, she’d made two bears for her broth­ers at the Build-a-bear work­shop, record­ing her voice into the voice­boxes so ev­ery time their tum­mies were squeezed, the boys would hear Court­ney say­ing ‘I love you’. She’d also writ­ten cards to be opened on their 18th and 21st birth­days. And there was more… On the day of the fu­neral, Court­ney’s words rang out in the chapel to a stand­ing ova­tion. ‘Re­mem­ber me as the girl who looked can­cer in the eye and said, “Bring ring it on.” on. Re­mem­ber me all glitz and glam, be­cause that’s how I’m liv­ing it up here in Heaven. ‘Can­cer took the one thing we don’t ap­pre­ci­ate enough - time. But it also gave. It gave me the op­por­tu­nity to say good­bye, it gave me per­spec­tive, tolerance, and showed me who my true friends and fam­ily are.’

She left some­thing for me too, a bracelet with in­ter­linked hearts. She bought two, one for her to be buried in and one for me to keep with me al­ways.

And she’d writ­ten me a let­ter, to be opened af­ter she passed. My own per­sonal let­ter from Heaven. ‘I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter mum, you were my best friend. Fo­cus on the fu­ture be­cause now, more than ever, the boys need you. I will be watch­ing over you al­ways and for­ever.’ I know she’s right so that’s what I’m do­ing. Ev­ery day when I wake up I re­mem­ber she’s gone and my heart breaks, but I have to stay strong for Kaige and Cay­den. I know my lass is watch­ing over me just like she promised. Ev­ery day since her death, my gar­den has been full of beau­ti­ful white but­ter­flies, Court­ney’s favourite flower. When­ever I stand at the back door and think of her, a but­ter­fly ap­pears, flut­ter­ing from the sky, and I know she’s there.

Of­ten, when I’m feel­ing re­ally blue, I turn on the ra­dio, only to find one of her favourite songs play­ing, sent from my an­gel to lift me up.

Court­ney made the most of ev­ery mo­ment she had, and now I know my dar­ling lass is guid­ing me to make the most of my life.

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