FAMILY COLUMN: A life lesson that’s hard to endure

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Our five-year-old daughter has been firing some tricky questions our way lately.

Not the ‘where do babies come from?’ kind, which she first hit us with at the age of three – they were easily answeredwith little white lies about mummies and daddies making wishes that come true.

They also had us in stitches … but there is definitely no chance of that with her latest quick-fire round.It started when we had to break the news to her that one of her guineapigs had died.

It was THE hardest thing we have had to do as parents. How on earth do you explain death to a child?

She sobbed on and off for days when she realised Elsa wasn’t going to wake up and be ok like the characters in her favourite books or films.

We decided that honesty was the best policy...to an extent. We let her decorate a box and explained that Elsa had to be buried, and let her plant some flowers.

As expected, this raised even more questions, so we tried to soften the blow by explaining that she would be able to see Elsa as a new star in the sky, which did seem to help...until it slowly started to dawn on her that we won’t all be here forever either.

This life lesson has been a hard thing to witness my baby girl endure, but her reaction to a tragic news story reminded me that it is all part of growing up. The emotions that she has experienced this last few months are already helping to shape her as a person with an amazing heart.

Heartbreaking pictures of Charlie Gard caught Jessica’s eye while playing; she was glued to the TV, and immediately wanted to know his story.

I told her the truth: that he was very poorly, and that his mummy and daddy were trying to get him medicine that might help him. Tears streamed down her face when she realised he was likely to die.

Then, as I began to explain what a special little boy he was, she said something that made me so proud. She asked if I knew where he was, and when I said yes, she said, “Can I do something to help him?”

With that, she disappeared to her bedroom and returned with her red piggy bank and a teddy.She wanted to send her pocket money to the hospital so they could make his room nice, and a teddy for him to snuggle.

Sadly, they may now reach the family too late, after his parents made the agonising decision on Monday to end their fight to take him to America for treatment, but Jessica knows that this beautiful little boy has helped so many people during his short life, and will continue to do so.

He inspired our little girl to do something thoughtful and special, and hers is just one of millions of hearts he has touched; such an amazing little man.

As a mum-of- two, I would give anything to be able to change the outcome for Charlie’s parents. They have shown strength and courage during a court battle that no parent should ever have to face.

In her innocence, Jessica has found comfort in the thought that Charlie will have a pet in heaven – her precious little Elsa.

As his parents prepare to kiss him goodbye, they can take comfort that their son will live on in the hearts and minds of so many.