I write this letter knowing you will never read it. however I am hoping the sentiments in this letter will travel through time and space and in the hearts and minds of other families who may find themselves in the circumstances we found ourselves experiencing 16 years ago today on 2nd October 1999.
Callum you are aged 16 now and I can’t believe how blessed I am that you are here with me, my precious son, my patient teacher. From the day you were born (three months early, Mr Inquisitive!) you showed so much strength and four months later you were not strong enough and things became difficult for you and you stopped breathing. You held on fighting as I heard you hold on to your last breath! I cannot imagine how frightened you must have been as machines were surrounding you and wires inserted into you. The doctors told us you may not survive and if you did your life would be very different. As you slowly began to breathe again and gain strength, I took a deep breath and leap of faith as it felt as though I was on a parallel universe with you as it all felt so very surreal, we were about to enter an unknown world with a new destination.
Callum I learnt very early that your milestones would be at your own pace and to enjoy and hold on to all your moments however big and small. I remember you hugged me for the first time around the age of three. We were told you would not be able to walk however we persevered and one day you got up and walked a few paces. You are registered blind but yet you know how to find a kitchen, get round furniture even when you are somewhere not familiar.
One of the funniest moments I remember is when I went to your parents evening and you were around 5 years old and your teachers told me how you had ever so gently kissed Holly on her cheek and they were not sure how I would take this as it may not be culturally acceptable. I responded and said it is okay Callum can kiss as many girls as he wishes as long as they do not mind. Your big brother was puzzled as I told him that rule did not apply to him until he was 25 years old!
Callum you have a beautiful personality and we will carry on doing things differently to ensure you live your life to the fullest. I am proud of you and your brother you both are my everything. Our bond is strong, our love is immeasurable and your life journey is remarkable. I will always be here for you, as today 16 years ago you introduced a new world to me and it was scary at first.
Everything was quite overwhelming, juggling appointments, therapies, meeting different professionals, trying to understand diagnosis, understanding jargon. Being told your brain was damaged and this would determine what you would and could not do. One of the doctors told me that in some cases the scans can portray a different picture and look quite serious, however he had been surprised to see what some patients were able to do contrary to the images of their brain. At that moment I held on to those words and knew you would surprise us.
We have learnt so much together both you, your brother and I and through our love and faith and other families we have met we learnt to be resilient and never to think anything is impossible. Life is about moments and we have had fun making them, enjoying them, both you and your brother’s laughter are priceless!
I am so very grateful to be your mother, as your courage, strength, laughter and gentle loving nature makes each day extraordinary. Our community of disabled children, young people and families is growing and our Love and Faith is Strengthened as we gain more support, awareness and understanding.
By sharing your story and other’s stories we hope collectively we can encourage as many people as possible to support us in increasing disability awareness, support, understanding and inclusion.
I will also stand up for disability rights and break down barriers and attitudes for a better tomorrow for our disabled loved ones. Times will get hard and we will dust ourselves off and try again and build our strengths from all the good times shared, each achievement small or large, each smile making sure we smile even brighter.
Every child needs a champion, someone who never gives up on them who understands them and insists they become the best they can possibly be. Callum you are my champion, you have never give up on me trying to make ripples for change, you make me proud and a better person.
‘Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be and if you are lucky he might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be’. – Joan Ryan
Thank you Callum as I have been so blessed to call you my son, you have taught me so much and allowed me to see so much through your big beautiful eyes, your smile, your innocence. your compassion and trust. I will always be here to support your voice, hold your hand through your life’s adventures and your journey ahead.
Love you to the moon, universe and beyond.
attending his first ever prom night and had a lovely evening with all his
Include Me TOO
were finalists for the largest national awards in the UK. The National Diversity
Awards recieved 20,000 nominations and hosted a fabulous evening in Liverpool
and we WON the Community Organisation Award for Age. Huge hugs were shared the next day with
Callum who inspired Include Me TOO. Thank you to all the
families, volunteers, supporters and the team who are the centre and foundation
of Include Me TOO!