I had agreed with Pinkie that if I felt comfortable I would leave her and return after the two hours were up. Together we had prepared a list of likely party foods and the dose of Creon that each would require. Pinkie had a copy of the list in her newly purchased fox bag, and I had one to give to the mum. With present in hand and a big grin we set off to her new friend’s house.
Once inside Pinkie disappeared into a room full of screaming girls and too many decibels of One Direction.
“Can I have a quick word?” I said to the mum as I scanned the party food table to make sure my list was comprehensive. “Pinkie will need some of these when she has some food.”
“Is that Creon?” asked another child’s mum who had just arrived.
“Has she…?” she looked towards the sound of Harry Styles.
A big fat tear welled in her eye, teetering on the edge of her lashes before it finally plopped onto her white top. Now, I have known people feel sorry for us, but never to that degree and I honestly didn’t know what to do.
“How do you know about Creon?” I finally managed.
“My husband died of CF last year.”
Now we were both in tears.
As Pinkie danced with her new pals, I chatted to Stephanie over a box of tissues. She told me all about her lovely husband and the two beautiful children they have together, a girl in Pinkie’s year, and a boy in Blue’s. She invited us to a party they were having in the summer holidays as it would have been her husband’s birthday and she wanted it to be a happy day for them to remember him. I said no thank you because I’m not that brave.
When we left the party, Pinkie was all danced out and full to the brim with Wotsits and birthday cake. I was full of worry.
On the last week of term Blue came home with a letter saying his Year 6 adventure holiday was going to be in September. I had seven weeks to plan how we were going to break it to Blue that CF is worse than he ever imagined, just in case anything was mentioned by his new pal while they were away. Enter my ‘Bat-phone’ / speed dial to our CF team.
The advice was as follows: Tell him as much as you want him to know, in a way that you think he’ll understand but isn’t too brutal. Remind him that people used to die of measles but they don’t now, medicine has moved on as quickly as technology has. Don’t lie to him and give him assurances that are not true, they will haunt you later. Then phone and tell us what you have said so he can see the psychologist and she will assess the damage and form a plan accordingly.
Mid August we decided the time had come and shipped Pinkie off to bed, leaving Blue watching sport with Mr. After we were sure she was asleep we took a collective deep breath and started talking. Sometime later, all questions answered and bases covered etc Blue said,
“I knew it was bad as no one else I know has a team of doctors on the speed dial, and also when I’m ill we go to the GP, and when Pinkie is ill you go to hospital, even for a sore throat.”
After a suitable information digestion period, Blue went to see the psychologist under the pretext that Pinkie had to do a cough swab with the docs, so he might as well have a natter while he waited. Thirty worrisome minutes later, he appeared out of a room all sunshine and light, pretty much the same as he went in. With a covert thumbs up, that neither child’s beady minces noticed, we headed home.
Later, the psychologist phoned to say that Blue was actually relieved to have been included in the circle of trust, none of which was to be mentioned to Pinkie as it’s far too grown up for her just yet. She said that we have a happy, well adjusted young man who knows he’s loved and just as important as Pinkie. I’ll remind him of that when he’s in his mid teens.
So September came and Blue headed off for his five day residential. Puppy-Face sat in his room most days wondering where his brother had gone, I revelled in the cleanliness of his room (but only briefly), and Pinkie missed him horribly.
He came back declaring his holiday to have been ‘beast’ and ‘sick’ and we were delighted to see him (and his filthy green teeth). Once Pinkie was safely ensconced in front of the TV out of earshot, I asked what we’d been dying to know.
“Did XX mention anything about his dad?”
He looked at me blankly like I was hearing voices, and I couldn’t have been more relieved.
PS a little note about Stephanie.
Over the following months after our ‘what are the chances’ meeting she became a great friend, and would talk about her husband in such a positive way that even though I never met him, I know he had the sparkly stuff Pinkie does. I also have never felt that Pinkie and her husband are in the same boat, us having joined ‘the club’ so many years later. I still do think the future is a bright place and that Pinkie will nurse me in my old age, feeding me Werthers Originals or a drop of sherry.