There are so many glorious ways in which your life transforms once you become a parent.
For me personally: I laugh more (every day), I smile more, I get delighted by ridiculous songs about cats and farts, and I cherish the moments where my little ones snuggle into my neck and smother me with affection.
But there is one way in which my life has not improved. In fact, it has the potential to become downright, depressingly, devastatingly miserable, because now… my compassion levels are sky high. Which means I can relate to other parents’ suffering.
As a mother or father, there is no greater pain imaginable than the loss of a child. It’s such a cliché when people say, “Once you have children, it just hits you harder”, but in my experience it’s been true.
So, when I hear a story about a parent losing a baby, an infant, a toddler, a child of any age really, it breaks my heart in two.
This week I heard such a story, about beautiful, brave little Charlie. He lives in the UK and has a rare, debilitating disease. His short eight months of life has been an uphill battle so far, but his parents Connie and Chris have been campaigning and fundraising tirelessly to get him transferred to the United States for new treatment.
They successfully raised an incredible £1.2m, enough to cover the cost of transport and treatment for Charlie in America. It may not save his life – but even if there’s just a fraction of a percentage chance that it will help, it’s a risk worth taking, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, the decision has been cruelly taken out of their hands. This week, a judge denied their application to transfer little Charlie to the US and granted doctors the right to turn Charlie’s life support off.
“I want to thank Charlie’s parents for their brave and dignified campaign on his behalf, but more than anything to pay tribute to their absolute dedication to their wonderful boy, from the day that he was born,” the judge said.
However, he felt it was “in Charlie’s best interests [to]… withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity.”
Tears streamed down my face as I read the verdict for a baby I don’t know, and a family I’ll never meet. I don’t understand why the judge won’t allow one final attempt at treatment; I can only begin to imagine how devastated the family is feeling.
It’s been reported that the family will appeal and fight for Charlie to be given another chance. All we can do is hope that it won’t be too late, and spend a little time this Easter cherishing the gift that is a healthy child.