The paediatrician said Sophie should to go to ITU 'for observation'. I didn't appreciate the implications. At 11.50am I had to say goodbye while the team - what a thoroughly professional team - prepared her. Outside the paediatrician slapped me with the words 'We nearly lost her on the way down'. This was the first indication to me that Sophie's life was in danger. She lay with tubes, monitors, wires, constant vigilance, her heart racing, forcing the blood around her closing-down body.
'The next 24 hours.' 'The next 12 hours.' 'We just have to wait now.'
There were phone calls paediatrician to paediatrician from our hospital to St Mary's, Paddington. They tried their ideas - 'cleaning blood' - but had to 'wait for platelets to ..' what? 'Heart-lung bypass' someone said, but a journey was involved...she wouldn't make it.
With dry mouths, aching hearts and already under the heavy mantle of loss, four days after she had been taken ill, we all held her close as Sophie's challenged heart gave up at the same time of day that she was born, 15 years and three weeks before.
A kiss at new year?
Wave of Life
Lying alone to fight your last fight,
So beautiful, so young, so brave,
Never before seen so little light
In that body that gave and gave.
So many people would have given so much,
But the tide may never be turned.
The wind will not stop for anyone's touch -
And death may never be spurned.
The sea and the mountains are here today
And here till eternity comes.
Were I never to see the snow and the spray
Inside me they would never be gone.
You are scattered now on the beach, in the sea,
In the ocean where time has no call.
You live on in my heart, in me,
In the waves, that rise and crash as they fall.
Written by James, aged 17 in January 1996 when Sophie, his sister, died.