Thursday, 19 August 2010
Close shaves and near misses
This has been a tough holiday for James in many ways. Lyme Disease and our sojourn in hospital made him realise that we can’t always take good health for granted and that many children are in real life-threatening situations; that serious pain is not a grazed knee.
Then we had the Riphay Scuffle where we saw our lives flash before our eyes as a car hurtled past, snagging a line of fencing and a heavy stake came flying within a few feet of us. We were okay but someone further down the hill had to be air-lifted to hospital. Tragically that evening two young lads died on their way home from the Scuffle as they lost control of their car. James hates driving past the spot where they came off the road and I had to explain that sometimes awful things do happen but that we can’t let them control our lives. So we do occasionally drive that way and pass the huge swathe of tributes – and say a silent prayer for the boys and their families.
A few days back, Adrian and a friend of ours took James to the cricket in Taunton. On the way back they got a flat tyre and had to pull over to change it. A car slowed down and the next thing a truck ploughed straight into it. By a miracle nobody was seriously hurt (though we heard later that the lad in the first car has whiplash) but James was horribly shaken.
‘It all happened in slow motion,’ he said as he sobbed into my shoulder. ‘I thought they were dead.’
He has, I think, crossed his own river. Coming close to death and danger changes you. He seems more contemplative, more grown up maybe. It’s strange too that this summer is the one that straddles the divide between junior and senior school. In a few weeks time, he will be at ‘big’ school, boarding for the odd night here and there, doing his own thing. He can’t wait. He’s desperate to move up, to move on. I’m thrilled but also can’t help but feel a little pensive.
So, it hasn’t been a carefree summer so far. But, in the scheme of things, we’re so lucky. We’ve come close but the cup has passed by. I do often wonder how on earth parents handle really serious illness, accidents or, perish the thought, the death of a child? I’ve recently been reading Simon’s Choice by Charlotte Castle, an author I met on Authonomy. The book looks at exactly that question – what happens when you are told that your child’s illness is terminal. I’m going to be posting an interview I did with Charlotte quite soon – so do watch out for that.
Sorry, this is a rather maudlin post. To end on a brighter note, we are so looking forward to our holiday in Northumberland. I think we could all do with a little light relief.
btw, I have recently given an interview myself - to the website Authors on Show. It's about my career in journalism and writing - and my hopes for my teen fiction. You can read it here