I just wanted him to come home. It was my overriding feeling. I wanted him to be in our house. However, there had to be a post-mortem, which identified meningococcal septicaemia as the cause of death, before his body could be released to us. My husband, myself and our eldest daughter went to Portsmouth to see Ed in the hospital mortuary. He had no rash of any kind visible on his body, although the PM report mentioned a rash on his arm, which was actually his eczema!
We talked to Edward's house mates and found out what had happened.
On the Sunday evening two of them had gone for a drink, but Edward had felt tired and so stayed at home with his other friend. They watched a video, (Kalifornia), listened to music and smoked cannabis. Apparently Edward started feeling cold and shivery and had a stomach ache and went to bed early. His bedroom was the smallest room, (cheapest), and upstairs at the back of the house.
The next morning Ed's three housemates went to university and when two of them got back in the afternoon, they started to wonder where Edward was. One went upstairs to his room and found him dead, naked on the floor. They rang the emergency services and Edward was taken to hospital where his death was confirmed. When we were eventually allowed into Edward's room by the police, his clothes were in a sweaty heap at the bottom of his bed. He must have taken them off as he became feverish.
One of the most difficult things for us all was wondering what had actually happened and how Edward might have suffered with nobody there.
My eldest daughter and myself went to Portsmouth after Edward was found dead and we slept in his room to try and connect with him and feel closer to what happened. I slept on the floor where he had been found. His friends were very kind and considerate to us. We mourned him together.
Our dog was very happy when we brought Edward's things home because they smelt of him and the dog obviously thought he was returning with his things. It was very poignant.
We did have Edward overnight in our house before his funeral, but it was for such a short time, when I had wanted him at home from the time he was found dead. My younger son and myself dressed Ed in the clothes he was wearing when we last saw him in Portsmouth; he was very clothes conscious.
Edward's younger sister, who had been too upset by his death to do any of things the rest of us managed to do, got an opportunity to see him and say goodbye when he was at home for that one night.
My husband composed and gave Edward's eulogy at his funeral; a very brave thing which no-one else in the family could have done.
Edward's death was part of the outbreak of meningitis among students in 1997 which led to the introduction of the Meningitis C vaccine. Three students died at Southampton University and we wondered if Edward had picked up the meningococcal bacteria when he had gone to a protest march held there, against the abolition of student grants.
We continued to visit Edward's friends during the time they were at Portsmouth University, but felt we should stop pestering them when the time came that they might have parted company from Ed anyway. One of his friends left university without completing his course, perhaps as a result of what happened to Edward. We have a memorial bench for Edward in the Union and Library grounds at the university, and visit it on the anniversary of Ed's death each year.
For a long time after Edward's death, I felt I would like to move to Portsmouth to be closer to him, but the rest of the family pointed out he had only been at Portsmouth University for seven weeks and the rest of his life had been in Birmingham. We tend to be argumentative as a family. Another result of this is that Edward's ashes are still by my and my husband's bed, not scattered! We cannot reach a unanimous decision! We think this is probably appropriate, as Ed was the most argumentative and opinionated of the family.