1. Feeling ready
Well, today is the last evening in our little holiday. We have had an absolutely amazing time creating some wonderful memories that Wills and I will carry into the next few weeks and months waiting for transplant, and especially through the transplant itself. My little rescue box has some new things in it with postcards and little souvenirs from some of the places we visited, I have hundreds of photos to print and I’ve finished my Christmas shopping which will make seeing the children open them all the more special as the gifts are steeped in memories. Even practical gifts like refill note pads and tissues are more special when they were bought on such magical days.
More than ever before, I feel ready for the phone to ring. William has been great. The sea air, and lots of it, has done him loads of good. Today though, he was shattered and struggled to walk around the zoo. Granted, the odd extra little nibble he’s had on holiday has contributed, but his tummy is pouring more than ever too. William accepts the way he feels as normal and has adapted amazingly to the fatigue, nausea and discomfort he feels every day. But we do get these reminders most days that he is more poorly than he seems. I would love him to receive his life saving gifts before he has to experience anymore of these things. Although the phone could have rung anytime we have been away, it has been a lot easier to forget about it while we’ve been having so much fun and experiencing so much. It has been a fantastic break and Wills and I feel rested and refreshed but it is experiencing life to the full that is the most important thing to us and the memories that will be treasured forever.
2. Giving a little means a lot
The people who made all this possible for us are the Torbay Holiday Helper’s Network. This was the brainchild of Luke Tillen who owns the absolutely fantastic Hotel Del La Mer in Babbacombe, bear Torquay and where we have been staying. Luke was watching ‘The Secret Millionaire’ one evening and saw ‘Donna’s House,’ a holiday home where families with sick children could go for holidays. Luke was inspired and decided to give a holiday to a family who really needed a holiday away from hospitals and treatments in his own hotel. This was how the Torbay Holiday Helper’s Network was born. From then, Luke inspired and persuaded other hoteliers and owners of self-catering holiday venues across Torbay to give a room or unit for a week for a family to come and experience a break when they needed it the most. To enable the families to have a really amazing experience, he also persuaded most of the local attractions, boat, bus and steam train companies and some of the restaurants and cafes to donate visits, meals and treats to the families. Other local people also donate photography, massages and other pampering treats. This means, that families like ours, can come and have the most incredible time, experiencing everything the area has to offer. It is just amazing and what it so fantastic is that everyone gives what they have and what they can.
People give generously; a day to go and collect a family, a meal in their cafe, an hour on a beach taking photos, a day in their attraction, a ride on their boat, an ice-cream, fish and chips on the sea-front, a specially made handcrafted gift to take home …. All generous gifts in themselves but manageable for those who gave them. When they are all put together they make up something that no one could give alone as it is something that is so much bigger than the sum of all the individual components. It really gets me thinking all the time. We often think that what we have to give is too small and won’t be noticed so we don’t bother. The Torbay Holiday Helper’s Network shows that, if we all give what we can, especially if we can somehow co-ordinate our giving in the same way Luke has inspired and co-ordinated the network then we can really create something that can be life changing for people. We should all be inspired by this.
3. The Star ThrowerThis is a story that is very special to Luke and the Torbay Holiday Helper’s Network and is displayed in his hotel.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to paint. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore to find a view to paint that day. There had been a big storm and he found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out,
“Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied
“Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied,
“But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said,
“I made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley