In spite of my advanced driving skills, it was decided that Sam would drive us up there, with Colin following in the van, and then I'd get the train back as Colin had a gig. Incredible to think I'd had at least a month since we were told his place was guaranteed, and yet I didn't feel at all ready.
In all honesty, just the week before, Sam and I had ended up in A & E on the Friday, and I genuinely wondered if he'd make it there at all! He had been suffering with a sore throat in the morning but was determined to go out with his mates that night for a farewell do. He returned in a sorry state around 11pm – and not through drink I hasten to add.
As his throat became more swollen, his breathing got worse, and so it was an ambulance that delivered us to A & E in the wee small hours. We finally got home at 5am, armed with penacillin and a diagnosis of tonsalitis. We were both exhausted, but I was so relieved it had happened while he was still with me, rather than at Uni… because you never stop worrrying about them really do you?
Even when you've bought everything but the kitchen sink for him to set up home in halls, you still worry! I did manage to convince him that an ironing board was possibly above and beyond, mainly to save his frustration when he came to set it up and wouldn't know how to!!! Ok, I did buy him an iron though… no doubt it'll still be boxed at the end of the year :)
Actually his room was larger than I'd thought and he is on the ground floor, so we didn't have too far to lug all the luggage. He got a welcome pack which included bedding and kitchen things, but Northern Nights and cook's essentials have been added to that to make it more homely :)
In what seemed no time we were all unpacked and it was time for Sam to take me to the station… five miles isn't very far and doesn't give you time enough to think of how to say goodbye, so I opted out, choosing instead to hold on to him rather tightly and awkwardly from a sitting position in the car. "I'll be alright Mum," he said… "I'm only a phone call away…". I kissed him and then gave him my best smile, before climbing out of the car…
Memories are funny things aren't they, and my mind's been full of them this week, so I hope you won't a little bit of self indulgent reminiscing For those who don't know, Sam is my second child, and was born on 10th March 1989, which was officially 'Red Nose Day'. I remember the ambulance driver asking me to wear a red nose whilst I was puffing and blowing my way through a contraction!! I don't think he heard my muffled reply mercifully :)
Sam growing up
Sam was a really easy baby, and grew into a happy, affectionate and smiley little soul. His nursery teacher Mrs Nicholls – whom he called Mrs. Nibbles! – loved him and even when he moved to lower school, it stated in his report that he was 'a joy to teach and to have in the classroom'. The friends he made during those early years are still his best mates now, and I think that says a lot :)
Of course while they're all at school, your life runs parallel to theirs, trying to fit everything in, be there for them, and in my case, work as well. It's always busy but very rewarding and best of all, you're needed. When they hit the teenage years, it's as busy, but in a different way, and you hope you're getting it right, although they'd have you believe otherwise :)
Most 18 year olds – including my own! – seem to have very little to do with their parents, preferring obviously to be out with their mates, and doing their own thing. Sam was exactly the same. His life revolved around college, his motorbike, and his mates… until his accident a few months after his 18th birthday. Suddenly I was needed in a way I hadn't been for years, and although it wasn't always easy – sometimes incredibly hard – I gained strength from being able to help.
Of course it was difficult and worrying for Lucy and Jack too, but they were so good and adapted to how things changed, and how much less time – initially – I had for them. I guess it's when you think you may lose your child, your whole universe tilts… just slightly…
During the past three years there have been numerous appointments to make and keep, forms to fill in, specialists to visit, and in Sam's case, further surgery, that have meant long periods of complete immobility. But it's all meant time together – something as I've said you don't normally get when they're this age.
So to see him now, and to realise all he is about to achieve, having worked so damned hard to get here, I feel immensely proud… but a little lost. He has texted and called, and his room doesn't really look that much emptier in truth! He's coming home on Friday for the weekend, and so between my hours at QVC Towers and doing his washing, we should get a little time together :)
I know I'm not the only one to be feeling this way, because of the lovely comments you've written to me over the last few months, so do let me know how you're getting on, and how your children have settled in, and I'll look forward to hearing from you… it makes all the difference
Love Ali xx