June 2000The month of June was the start of the school holidays. We visited many places around us. Our favourite place to visit was Courtown a seaside resort close to us. We had many walks through the forest collecting leaves and berries, along the beach watching the waves thunder in and crash onto the beach. We always got sweets in one of the local shops. These happy family times we shared left us so many precious memories.
As Gary got older he started to figure out ways of earning some extra pocket money while on holidays but never quite made his fortune. He worked for a time in a solicitor's office, helping with the mail and sorting through the files. He cycled about town delivering the letters and this was a start for him to see the advantages of work and with it the chance to have responsibilities that paid money. He had long since got an information book on different ways to make money. Coming up to the summer of '99 Gary searched for a job when he got his holidays. He marched so determined the whole length of our town but at the time he was fourteen and had little prospect of getting summer work until he was sixteen. We remember with fondness that day he searched. Gary did not get the chance to work but no doubt he has more worthwhile work to attend to up there with the best and we wish him well in his career and may he complete the agenda he worked so hard at while he lived amongst us.
June 2001It's now time to write a new thought for the month of June. Tomorrow the third of June Lisa is seven years old. I can still plainly hear Gary getting Lisa to repeat after him " I'll be two in June ", she was only gone fourteen months, and how proud he was to hear her repeat those words. Two years have passed since Gary died and we still visit Gary's resting place a number of times each week. We still long for Gary so much it wont change for a long time, indeed if ever. How can you " let go " of the precious son we knew for for fourteen years and three months. And yet we know for life to continue the way it should we must indeed let go. I have thought long and hard about that and I am still trying to figure it.
At night I look about Gary's room before going to bed. The posters on the wall needing the odd new piece of cello- tape to insure they don't fall down, one day I say to myself I shall have to remove them and decorate the room. Gary would be sixteen now a big boy what would he be doing now I ask myself and somehow I feel I know the answer. Yesterday the school holidays started and that reminded me of Gary's school journal and how it showed his countdown to the exam's before the school broke for the summer holidays and how it stopped counting on the 21-5-1999, I look at Gary's certificate for the Tae-Kwon-Do and the expiry date of Feb 2000, I remember thinking how many months to go before reaching that date. Ah if only, if only those ifs and buts continue to haunt me. But one consolation I know we have come a long way on life's journey in two years but how I would trade it all to have Gary walk in shout " hi Dad I 'm back ".
To Gary we send our love and to tell him me still miss him and still remember each day the love he shared with us and the fun we had. From Mom , Dad , Stephen and Lisa.
June 2002 It is near the end of the month and it has taken me a long time to write this month's thought. This is a good thing life goes on but we shall never forget the past and hopefully the lessons to be learned. We have been busy highlighting the issue of SUDEP (for more info see our SUDEP page) and the need for more information, discussion and research into epilepsy. Over the last three to four weeks we have given a lot of interviews and also with a couple of radio interviews concerning Gary and how he died. From all this we try to tell of the lessons we feel there are to be learned.
As we talk over our life's experience at times it seems like a different family we speak about. The extreme difficulties we faced after Gary died of learning to cope with our loss and trying to live with the deep emotions and the awful feeling of hopelessness each day brought. And for so long you wonder when the pain of grief would go away. That feeling never quite goes completely but at least now we can remember the details surrounding Gary's passing and publicly recount those details in order to help others become aware of the dangers of SUDEP. I sometimes underestimate that difficulty because I know after talking about Gary with the media afterwards comes a sense of despair as you look around and know Gary is not here to share the happy times we had but never the less it is important to tell that story over and over again. I believe it to be part of the healing process and to help answer why Gary's life was taken. From something so terrible as the death of a child some lessons must be learned and never be forgotten.
Over the past three years we have spoken with doctors about Gary and how he died. We ask them to be honest with the families they treat especially to tell them of all the dangers associated with their condition. To let them know that there can be a possibility that their condition if not looked after can be fatal.
Death is not what most people like to hear or talk about, we all like to think we shall live forever in a perfect world. It is something I have little fear of now after Gary dying but it gave me a greater respect for life and I try to see more clearly how precious it really is. I am the first to admit my failings but I will still keep trying.
For more information on SUDEP (Sudden Death In Epilepsy) Also our "Links to Gary's site" has links to the some of the most relevant sites I have found on epilepsy.