Last week one of the mums in our group at school lost her long battle with leukemia. She had bravely battled this debilitating disease for almost six years. Six years of terrifying sickness with a young child to look after. This woman was one of the bravest I have known. Whilst the rest of us go about our daily lives muttering about our own issues, this lady stuck out her chin, strode into school with her oxygen tank in tow and smiled and laughed with the rest of us.
Her funeral was full of tears but full of laughter and stories too. Stories of her strength of character, her positiveness and her ability not to sweat the small stuff were shared. She didn’t suffer fools gladly and was fond of telling friends to pull their head in when they were being unnecessarily precious. “Build a bridge and get over it!” she would retort and, who could argue with the lady who rode her bike to the hospital, oxygen tank in tow to get her latest bout of chemo….she had a point.
This was a lady who, no matter how often she faced her battle, rarely showed how much it took out of her – not to most of us at any rate. When Auckland opened its very own Oxygen Bar, Emma would offer her own oxygen for free. She laughed and smiled where most of us would be broken by just a fraction of what she faced.
What is sadder than anything is, not just that her own parents survived the death of their daughter – no parent wants that – but that she leaves behind her rock of a husband and a gorgeous little girl of just seven years of age. How do you prepare those left behind, especially a child so young for something like that.
The fact that Emma had been sick meant she had time to explain to her daughter that mummy wouldn’t always be around but even knowing this, the fact that this family have been cruelly separated like this makes me feel sick with sadness. Many people will be affected by the death of this beautiful mother. Her family – that goes without saying. Her friends of course. There are others affected too by the realisation that life can change at any given moment and those things we take for granted can be taken away as quickly as they appeared.
This week, I have taken more care than ever to show my family how much I love them. I have hugged more, kissed more, cried more and laughed more. Yesterday I told my children: “Do you know how lucky I feel to have you guys?” My children glowed with this knowledge and hugged me tight. “Do you know, mummy,” my daughter Sasha said, “we are so lucky too to have you as our mummy.” Tears filled my eyes at the knowledge that Emma’s daughter would not have this same conversation any more. And then I realised that she had already been lucky – lucky to have such a beautiful mum who can never be forgotten. And lucky to have such a loving father. One that will cherish and love her alongside her mother’s memory for the rest of his life.
This blog is dedicated to the people and their families who have suffered and are suffering from Leukemia and in particular to Emma Felicity Hounsell 17 March 1972- 12 August 2013 and the family she leaves behind.
Love Jacqui and the rest of the “Meadowbank Mafia” as Emma affectionately called us.