Losing a child is hell. The ache doesn’t go no matter what you do. The only escape was in sleep. When I could. But when I woke up, she still wasn’t there and the pain would hit like a blunt chisel at my chest.
I was used to her jumping on me to wake me up. Her dad taught her that. Taught her how to sneak and then how to shriek when her little body landed. I used to laugh and moan at the same time. I’d give anything to have that back.
But still, I preferred it when she used to call to me.
I would hear her little mewling voice from the next room and it would pull at threads that had mysteriously become twined through my heart. I would know that she was going to cry, long before the first, hesitant squawks escaped from her tiny mouth. I would just know. It felt like chocolate melting in a pan.
When she began to sicken, I thought it was just a cold. She had a bit of a fever and a sniffy nose, but don’t all kids get that? Just a bug going round, I told myself. Just a something that’ll pass. But a week later she was tossing in the bed like it was burning her skin.
Seven years old and she’d been boiled down to nothing – fried until she was just skin on bone. Couldn’t even raise her own head to take a spoon of soup. Didn’t even know there was a spoon most of the time.
I wished, prayed, that it could have been medicine on that spoon, but we just didn’t have the money. Even if we’d pawned everything we had left, it still wouldn’t have been enough.
The nurse … yeah, a bloody nurse – we couldn’t even get near a doctor. The nurse said we needed the latest antibiotic, the one they developed north of the fence. Said that what she had wasn’t treatable by the old drugs anymore. Even had the cheek to tell us that we were lucky we couldn’t afford to take her into hospital like that. The bugs there would have eaten her alive.
Two days later, she was taken anyway.
That’s when I decided that they wouldn’t get away with it. We’d show them what pain was. We’d teach them about loss.
(this is a prequel to a story I wrote earlier: Let Her Stay (full))