Dear 13-year-old Lauren,
Tomorrow dad will take you to school. You will kiss him goodbye and tell him you love him and you’ll see him later. You’ll run into the common room to meet your friends and you’ll talk excitedly about the Christmas Feast that will take place that evening and how next year you will all be in heading to London for your first house outing as part of the Senior School. You will eventually head into the LRH ready for the feast, you’ll receive an award for your charity work and you’ll think to yourself about how you’ll share the tube of smarties you received with dad.
Mum will pick you up and take you home ready for bed, you’ll drift off to sleep thinking about what an amazing day you had. And then Ian will wake you up and tell you that you have to go to the hospital to visit dad. You will meet mum at the hospital, not at dad’s bedside like you assumed but in a relatives’ room. Mum will hug you and Ian tightly and tell you she loves you and then she’ll tell you that dad has gone. All of a sudden your world will come crashing down, you will scream and wonder what she means. How can dad be gone? When is he coming back?
You will wonder how you will get through this and how you will ever live without dad. I’m telling you now, you will! There will be times where the pain is just as raw as that awful day and there will be images that will stay with you forever, no matter how hard you try to get rid of them.
You will wonder what you did to deserve this but with time you will understand that this had to happen to make you who you are today.
In your last year of A-levels you will be diagnosed with ME, you’ll miss six weeks of school in total but you will also pass all of your exams and achieve a B in Business Studies and Cs in Spanish and Latin and you will get into your first choice of university.
You will then be diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3. Suddenly, all of the little health complaints that have weighed you down will all become connected and start to make sense.
Your symptoms will get worse, exhaustion will engulf your body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and you will constantly be in pain. There will come a time where you struggle to cook a meal or bake without searing pain racing through your body and you will no longer be able to do simple tasks such as straightening your hair every day.
But I promise you, it’s not all bad! You will excel in all maths related modules at University despite everyone telling you that you’re not good at maths whilst at school (I know you don’t believe me do you?). You’ll take a year out of university and undertake a placement year at a multi-national recruitment company and you’ll thrive.
You will graduate with a first class degree in Business Studies from the same university as Dad, 35 years after his graduation. You will earn a place at Kings College London (the same university your Granny went to) to study a masters in HR and you will accept a job at an award winning recruitment company close to home.
How are you going to do all of that when you’re suffering from a chronic illness?
You’ll do it because you are strong and determined, two traits you will develop as a result of dad’s death.
You see, as awful as dad’s death will be, it will make you stronger. You will learn how to overcome adversity and not let anything stand in your way. It will also teach you the true value of friendship and the importance of family. Mum will become your best friend, you and Ian will eventually stop fighting every minute of the day and will actually get along (sometimes).
Your positivity will get you through, I promise! Of course, there will be days where things go wrong and you’ll struggle to stay positive. You’re not perfect, trust me!
Life isn’t perfect, there will be plenty of storms but there will also be plenty of sunshine. Don’t let a single moment pass you by.