Grief’s turning point

    I remember so vividly the day, almost 40 years ago, when I went
    into my nine-year-old daughter Rosanne’s bedroom and found her
    sobbing her heart out. I put my arms round her but did not say a
    word. I knew why she was crying because my own heart was breaking
    too. It was just six weeks since her beloved sister, Sharleen, had
    died.

    My husband Roy and I had been living in Singapore, where he was
    working, with our two daughters. His work took him to many
    countries. We had already spent three years in Istanbul, where
    Sharleen had been born, and then went back to my native Scotland,
    where Rosanne was born.

    I was happy. I had a perfect family and my wanderlust, whetted by
    two years in Egypt during wartime service, was satisfied by Roy’s
    job. We were all enjoying our stay in Singapore until that day when
    Sharleen took ill. A local doctor prescribed some medicine that,
    instead of curing her, killed her. It was the drug chloramphenicol
    and Sharleen’s blood was allergic to it. When the doctors realised,
    she was immediately flown home to Great Ormond Street Hospital in
    London but she died within a few days.

    I too wanted to die. I remember walking off the pavement in front
    of an oncoming car hoping that would be the end. The car pulled up
    inches from me with a loud screech of brakes. I do not recall
    feeling sorry for the driver – only disappointment at my failure –
    but I have lived with my guilt ever since.

    It was not until I saw Rosanne’s tears that I realised what I was
    doing. I was so deeply entrenched in my own grief that, instead of
    sharing my sympathy and understanding with Rosanne and Roy, I was
    wallowing in my own distress. Rosanne and Roy needed my love more
    than ever before, just as I needed theirs.

    Until Sharleen’s illness I had been writing the daily storyline for
    a children’s strip about a little Scottish seal called Sandy. I
    turned my attention back to this. It was difficult to write amusing
    words when I was still weeping but I persevered. It was hard, too,
    to let Rosanne out of my sight. When she asked to go on a Brownie
    pack holiday Roy convinced me that we must encourage her to get on
    with her own life. Today, Rosanne is a trained counsellor with
    three lovely daughters.

    Roy and I found happiness again, bound even closer by our common
    tragedy. We settled in Scarborough, where Roy died. I have been
    wheelchair-bound with multiple sclerosis for years and, when I
    could no longer cope without my husband’s loving care, I moved into
    an Anchor Trust residential home. Here I am content amid friendship
    and peace. I look back on life’s sad and happy memories with
    gratitude for having known so much love.

    Nora Knox has multiple sclerosis and lives in a residential
    home.

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