Friday, 19 June 2009

Milk Shake and Cupcakes

Freya and Abby

Yesterday, I had a photo shoot which was a lot of fun and enjoyed spending time with two beautiful and special young girls. We went to London's East End to take some young and streetwise images. We even managed to incorporate some well deserved treats as we passed and American Diner with some fantastic milkshakes and cup cakes. Take a look at the gallery for some more images.

Freya and Abby are very best friends. They have lots in common, including first hand experience of donation and transplants. Abby is little sister to Emily who has already been featured in the project and is the subject of the blog here (as is Abby). Abby watched her sister become more and more sick and weak and then witnessed her bounce back to life after her double lung transplant. She talked a lot about her memories and feelings about Emily's illness and transplant as we were wondering around East London.

I was very interested to hear Abby's experiences as I am only too aware how tough things have been for Hope and Ellie at times through William's many months of illness and his transplant journey. Siblings often get pushed to one side when energy and worry needs to be focused on the sick child. There is always a feeling that there will always be time afterwards to catch up with the other children and make it up to them. One of the hardest things for me to accept our lives are settling after William's transplant is that I missed some precious time in Hope and Ellie's lives that can not be revisited of clawed back. Ellie is still only 9 and young enough for me to do the childhood activities we have missed. Hope though is 13 on Sunday. She was off catching up with her friends within the first hour of us all being back together and missed William's first outing, when his isolation period have finished, because she had arranged a revision session. She has matured into a teenage and I missed the close of her early childhood. It is one of my biggest regrets in all of this.

Hope is very mature and becoming quite the young lady. I wonder how she would cope if she were ever put into the same position as Freya was when she was 13. Freya's Mum became ill suddenly and was given just a few hours to live. Freya was her next of kin. During those final days, she was asked if she had considered organ donation. That is a huge question to ask anyone but for a 13 year old to have to make such a decision about her own Mother is just incomprehensible. Freya decided to donate tissue and bone and 14 people had their lives saved of transformed as a result. Her story is one of the bravest I have ever read and will always stay with me.

Freya urges people to think and talk about organ donation before the unthinkable happens so it is not all such a shock. Hope and I had a conversation about it today as she was looking though the photos in the gallery. Hope is registered to donate any part of her body but I now know that she wants to donate anything except her eyes. She knows I want any part of my body to be used for transplant if I were to die. I am a single parent to my girls and Hope is my eldest so I guess, technically, she could be asked the same question were anything to happen to me. Freya's presence among the images is a very powerful one and reflects her bravery. I hope it spurs other families to have the conversation Hope and I had today. Hope's friends have been having similar conversations since she has been talking about the project and the people I have been meeting.

Hope is lucky to have some amazing friends. They shopped for her dress for her confirmation on her birthday and are coming round to get her ready. They have stood by her through William's journey just as Abby and Freya have supported each other. There is always a lot of laughter in the house when her friends are here, That combination of mutual support and sharing fun together is central to Abby and Freya's special bond and I hope that is portrayed in the images.
There is something for me to take with me from both Abby and Freya's stories. I do my best to make things as easy as I can for Hope and Ellie and I hope they end up as happy and as lovely as Abby in their early teens. Her family is a huge inspiration to me. Freya's story, as all the stories included in the project, reminds me to make the most of every second and never take each other for granted.


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