In the weeks after my sister’s death social services were sadly unavailable. It was the Easter holidays, so could I wait and someone would get back to me? I found out afterwards that things would have been different had I cared for the kids at their family home (a housing association house). This would have flagged up an ‘at risk’ priority as the kids would be homeless as the tenant holder (my sister) had died. Empathy at it’s best! Because I took the kids to my house, they were deemed ‘safe’ and therefore not a ‘priority’. Work that one out?
I don’t really remember much about this time. I was pretty spaced out on grief and wine – the only thing that could get me to sleep. The newspapers kept calling, and a part of me felt that was so, so right. It was, to me the biggest news ever, so no wonder the media were interested. I opened my door one morning and experienced the life of the famous – that fluffy boom thing in my face and a reporter asking me to comment. I didn’t. But I took the decision to talk to a local reporter. I don’t know what he said that was different, but my instinct was correct. I told the reporter from the Exeter Express and Echo I would only talk about my sister, not her treatment or her family life. He reported without variation other than the headline ‘Local woman dies from flesh eating disease’ and explained that the local paper was affiliated to some of the nationals, so a three page spread in the local rag, and a column on page 3 in the Daily Mirror. My sister would have been proud! Fitting for the immense grief I was feeling.
It was odd really, people’s interpretations. On the day of the newspaper reports I was shopping in my local precinct and felt an odd feeling of ‘that’s the right thing’ when I saw that she had made the billboards outside a couple of newsagents. I got back home and the answer phone was flashing like mad. They had used the photo they had from a trip to Lapland, financed by the local charity ‘Dream-A-Way’, so anonymity was futile. Countless calls from Mogs’ headmistress telling me to call her and warning me of the media interest. I spoke to her, but could tell that she was completely baffled when I told her I wasn’t going to walk a different way home as so to shield Mogs – I was going to take her home and read the paper reports to both her and her brother. We agreed to disagree.
That evening Mogs, Eedy and I went through the newspapers and they laughed at their photos. In the midst of the heartache we smiled, I cried, and the kids reminisced.