Forever 12

When my eldest reached the milestone of his teenage years last week, it was a chance for me to reflect – on his life so far and on his life still to come – his journey through GCSEs, A Levels and girlfriends to adulthood.
But it was also a chance for me to reflect on my friend Kelly, who blogs at Chasing Dragonflies, and her daughter Abi. Because Abi will be forever 12.
Eighteen months ago, I’d never heard of Kelly or Abi. But one day my son came home from school and told me a girl in his class was very ill and all the girls were crying. When I saw the headlines online a few days later, I knew the worst had happened. I still didn’t know Kelly, but I wrote this post for that daughter that was loved and lost. She could have been my daughter or my son. She died at the age of 12, it couldn’t have been predicted and it couldn’t have been stopped.
I got to know Kelly through a mutual friend when I first thought about going freelance. She does proofreading and editing and she offered me a few words of advice. I didn’t hear from her for a few months after that. It turns out she was rather busy having a baby.
A couple of months ago, Kelly got in touch asking for blogging advice. I told her about linkies and pointed her in the direction of a couple of higher profile bloggers who could share her story and that was all she needed. Her blog is beautifully written and uplifting, even though it is about the saddest thing in the world. It doesn’t need my help to get noticed.
But I felt I had a guilty secret. I had a confession to make. Because I’d written about her daughter before I knew her. I told Kelly I’d written the post, sent her the link, but told her she didn’t need to read it. But she did read it. I now know that Kelly wants to talk about Abi and wants to talk about death. She would encourage us all to do it and to be prepared. Because it happens to everyone and affects everyone. I think it was perhaps that post that cemented our friendship. I cared about Kelly and Abi before I even knew them. Because how could I not? What mother, what PERSON, wouldn’t be moved by their story?
Abi was a few months older than my son. Even at 11 or 12, six months can make a difference to how old a child looks or how big they are. And girls go through puberty and growth spurts earlier than boys. Abi looked older than my boy.
My son turned 12 and then he turned 13. And now I look at Abi’s picture and she looks like a little girl. She looks younger than my son. He has left her behind.
Abi’s siblings too are growing up. Her younger sister will be 12 this year. She is catching Abi up and soon enough, like my son, she will overtake her.
At the thought of my son turning into a teenager, it would be the normal thing to groan and make a joke out of it. But I haven’t done that. Because I thought of Kelly and Abi. Whatever the teenage years throw at us – strops, sulks, girlfriend problems, exam traumas, even drug and drink problems, I know that we are lucky.
I know that Kelly would take all the stress and the trauma of the teenage years in the bat of an eyelid. Because she would give anything to have her teenage girl here right now, instead of forever 12.
Abi, Bereavement, Grief, Teens, Tweens
Photo courtesy of Kelly and Chasing Dragonflies.
This post was written with the knowledge and permission of Kelly.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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23 Comments

  1. That’s a lovely post and so sad too. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through all of that. I haven’t read her blog yet but will definitely take a look. Like you, I’ve thought a lot about overtaking friends that have passed away. Thinking how they can’t experience that new thing or wondered what they would have said about some news event or some mundane celeb thing. I wonder if it’s our way of trying to keep in touch with their memory.

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    • Thank you, it’s not a nice thing to think about at all, but I like your suggestion that it’s keeping in touch with their memory. Please have a read of Kelly’s blog, it’s a really good read.

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  2. Such a shame! My sister in law lost her best friend to a nasty crash while she was a teenager and she still thinks of her often. Very difficult dealing with grief like that with children.

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  3. I do have tears in my eyes reading that, and we both know that’s not something I let happen too often.
    I know I was aware you were writing this, but still it blew me away. What you have written is so touching and has managed to express how I feel, too, about Abi’s friends growing older. I’m also glad my story has helped you appreciate the things we all take for granted as of course I’d swap Abi’s death for a stroppy teenager any day. A beautiful post and thank you too for setting me on the road to blogging! Thank you Xxx

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    • Thank you, Kelly, I’m glad you like it (and is it wrong to say I’m glad it made you cry?). I was crying as I wrote it! I must always try to remember Abi when my kids are pushing me to my limits.
      It was a great pleasure to help you on the path to blogging! x

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  4. So sad and so tragic. I do think that when death takes the young, we do appreciate life and the little things that bit more. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain, and I can understand you appreciating every gripe and sulk. A beautiful post, Sarah.

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    • Thank you. I can’t begin to imagine it either, but reading Kelly’s blog really helps me appreciate how lucky I am to have my kids (even when they’re getting on my nerves!).

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  5. What an incredibly moving post. Losing a child is just so unbearably sad. A beautiful way to honour and remember as well as remind us of the importance of appreciating the everyday.

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    • Thank you, what a lovely thing to say.

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  6. Such a moving post. I came across Kelly’s blog a while back and her whole story is just so heartbreaking – but it’s important to remember that it can be inspiring too. And so important never to take any of this wonderful journey of parenthood for granted.

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    • That’s very true! You’re right, Kelly’s blog is heartbreaking, but it is beautiful and inspiring too.

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  7. Such a beautifully written post Sarah, I have tears streaming down my face now! I came across Kelly’s blog just last week, and am looking forward to reading more of her journey. She sounds like an incredible lady.

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    • She really is! Sorry to make you cry – I cried too writing it (and I cry if I read it back).

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  8. I have two friends who lost son’s as young children, both mothers are absolute hero’s in my eyes, for getting through each day and year since their children passed. As a parent myself now, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to face every day without them. Lovely post #whatsthestory

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    • It just doesn’t bear thinking about. I am in awe of Kelly and all the other mothers who have lost children who keep going.

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  9. I think this is a lovely tribute to your now friend x what a horrifically sad story, I just could never imagine what it’s like to outlive your child. I’ve no doubt she is thankful for your friendship xxx

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    • Thank you. It’s strange how you can find friendships in the most unusual of situations. I like to think we both value each other. x

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  10. One day, when I am battling the teenage years with my two, I will remember Abi and her Mum. xx

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  11. I have visited her blog a lot of times. I just read it and wont leave comments as I dont know what to say and how to say it. Death is something that I am thinking a lot lately. I am scared of it and I want to go home cuz I have this fear that if my parents would go and I am not there am i even going to forgive myself? Its not that they are in that age. I just saw so many of my friends’ parents died and its not impossible. Also while I am here my uncle, grandmother and grandfather died. Without me to attend their funeral. Without my relatives to share my sadness with. I am alone here. I want to see them, my family and hug them while they are alive and not go and be there when they are gone. I want to cease the day. I want them to see my son which they havent seen in 4 years. And this is eating me. Death. And it could be the only reason too that I will be aloud to go back to my country. I have to many things to say but I am crying now and I promise to go back when my head is better & calm.

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  12. Such a touching post for a special friend, life as a parent doesn’t get any more tragic than this.

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  13. Oh such a beautiful post and a real tribute too. I can’t even begin to imagine how this must feel, it is so terribly sad.

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  14. Such a sad story Sarah but so wonderfully written. It’s a really touching post, just so tragic. That must have been a tough write so thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory (and apologies for being late commenting, being in London 3 days hasn’t helped me) x

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