Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Leonie and poetry

It's that time again, the leaves are turning and the 23rd of October is creeping up on me. My daughter Leonie died eighteen years ago - in August - but I grieve for her on the 23rd of October because her father died a year before, on that date. So I lost the two of them ten months apart, leaving me, Scary Spaniel and Smudge to somehow carve out a new, and completely different life for each other. So, every October I dream about her, get miserable and don't talk about it. This time, I'm going to write about her, talk about her, get it out there. Leonie was born in 1984 when I was in my early twenties, just a kid really, though I thought otherwise at the time. My first baby had been stillborn and I had been seriously ill, so ill that I was told I would never be able to have a child. Steve and I were very very young and optimistic, so we went again anyway, and Leonie was on her way. This time I got past the point where Robin had died, only to find the baby had spina bifida. We were told she would probably be stillborn, would have an enormous head and would die soon after birth if she was alive. Anyway, three hours after I was induced a month early, Leonie was born, alert and well, with a big bump on her back.

Steve and I decided to give her the best possible chance (though against medical advice - in fact, if another surgeon hadn't told our consultant that Leonie couldn't be saved, he wouldn't have tried). Anyway, she did very well for 3 years, paraplegic but unstoppable, bright as a button and dangerously extrovert. Then she started to get ill, and a benign tumour was eventually found over her brainstem. They tried to operate when she was four, but left her comatose for months and brain damaged for life. As the pressure grew in her head life became difficult, and she could no longer understand what was going on. Until she got to 8, and her father died suddenly, when she decided it was time to let go, and with great dignity and love, she kissed us all, told us all she loved us, and slowly died.

And my whole life has changed. But few people in my life remember her, or Steve for that matter. So now I wonder whether to take a little of my own medicine and use narrative therapy to find those memories and work on the feelings and maybe grieve better. They say you never get over losing a chid, you just grow around it. But it leaves a scar, and sometimes when you try and do somthing, the scar gets in the way. So, I'm going to have a go at writing some poems about her, even if they are so self indulgent and sentimental I keep them very private.

But if you're out there, little lion, and reading blogs, I still love you and miss you.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your daughter and her father, it's such a very sad story. How did it feel to write about that? I hope it wasn't too difficult.
    Oscar Wilde wrote a wonderful poem about his sister, called Requiescat. I tried to link it but it wouldn't work. I would recommend it.

  2. Thank you Rosie, I'll look that up. I've spent the day pottering about writing down the odd phrase and sentence, I have half a poem. This has got to be cheaper than therapy! My OU tutor says pain can be a great source if inspiration, but it's scary to dig down into it. I really am getting into poetry now ... never thought I would say that. Thanks again, Reb