A let­ter to… The chil­dren I’m forced to leave

Dear Louis and Ella,

Chat - - Contents -

Hear­ing those ter­ri­fy­ing words, my first thoughts were for you.

‘Breast cancer,’ the doc­tor said. It was March 2014 and, aged 36, I knew I had to fight.

Louis, you were 12, Ella, 10, and you needed your mum.

Your brav­ery when me and your dad Paul, then 40, broke the news stopped me crum­bling.

And, as I bat­tled a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy and chemo, you’d make me cups of tea. So sweet!

With your dad by my side, too, I fought re­ally hard.

By Jan­uary 2016, I was in re­mis­sion.

So, af­ter 18 years to­gether, your dad and I de­cided to get mar­ried – you were so ex­cited!

I couldn’t wait to see you in your brides­maid dress, Ella. And Louis, I knew that you’d look dap­per in a suit.

Only, we were still mak­ing plans last Jan­uary when the cancer came back – it had spread to my liver.

Dad held me as we both broke down.

You see, my dar­lings, the cancer was ter­mi­nal. I was go­ing to die. Telling you was so hard. Ella, you strug­gled to un­der­stand be­cause of your autism.

But I put on a brave face, started pal­lia­tive chemo.

It would only pro­long my life for a few months, but I wanted as much time as pos­si­ble with my fam­ily.

Wigs and make-up helped to hide my sick­ness, sad­ness and ex­haus­tion. Your dad was my rock. Only, he’d been hav­ing ag­o­nis­ing headaches...

Then, last July, he had a seizure and tests showed he had a ar­te­ri­ove­nous mal­for­ma­tion – a tan­gle of blood ves­sels – on his brain.

He was booked in to have surgery to re­move it and was pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion.

But as we didn’t think it was life-threat­en­ing, he fo­cused on car­ing for me.

‘Thank God they’re still go­ing to have you when I’m gone,’ I said to Paul.

In March this year, it was the month of our wed­ding.

Only, just a week be­fore the big day, your dad col­lapsed in the shower.

Louis, you kicked down the door, pan­ick­ing. Found your dad on the floor, life­less.

You were so brave, putting him in the re­cov­ery po­si­tion as I called 999.

But at Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal Coven­try, we were told your dad had suf­fered a brain bleed and was brain dead.

The vicar due to marry us gave a bless­ing at your dad’s hos­pi­tal bed­side.

Then we said good­bye as his life-sup­port was switched off. We were all hurt­ing. But all I could think about was how you’d lost your dad and that your mum was dy­ing.

So des­per­ately un­fair.

‘Who’ll look af­ter them now?’ I wept to my mum Frances, 65. ‘They’ll never be alone,’ she promised me. And Nanny Frances will al­ways be there for you. I’m fundrais­ing to make sure that you’ll be OK. But, one day soon, I’m go­ing to have to leave you… My health is rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing – I might not make it to sum­mer. I know it’ll hurt. So, please, my pre­cious Louis and Ella, cher­ish the mem­o­ries we’ve made. You’re 16 and 14 now, and it breaks my heart I won’t see you grow up. But just know Mum and Dad are so proud of you and the peo­ple that I know you’ll be­come. Love you al­ways… Mum xx Emma Ma­ley, 41, Bal­sall Com­mon, West Mid­lands

Pre­cious fam­ily mem­o­ries... I love you so much

In Florida, 2010

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