When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.
AA Milne – The End, from ‘Now We Are Six’
On the way home from Hamilton on the bus this morning, I glanced at my phone and saw it was 11.00am. I grabbed hold of Fin’s hood, pulled him to me, and held him close.
At 11.00 am today, David and Angela Beggan were preparing to bury their son, Caden. Caden was six.
Caden had contracted meningococcal septicaemia. The illness took away his legs, his left hand and, last Tuesday, his life.
I didn’t know the Beggan family personally. I was one of the 40,000 plus Facebook followers who checked, daily, for updates from the family on this beautiful, brown-eyed boy’s condition on Caden’s Facebook page. His father, David, is clearly a man of incredible, unwaivering faith and his updates, though often extremely harrowing, brought a strange sense of comfort and calm to those who read his words.
Each day, the words ‘Caden is alive’, and your heart would leap just a little.
He was getting better, it seemed. I could picture him returning to school one day, with that awe-inspiring resilience that children show, adapting to his new life, having little idea of how many people had watched his journey and prayed for him and his family.
Then, on Tuesday:
Caden Riley Beggan
Born 29th September, 2006
Died 20th November, 2012
. . . in Mummy and Daddy’s arms.
Caden is alive forevermore . . .
Unexpectedly, I went to pieces. I have cried for Caden every day since. I cried on the bus home this morning when I held Fin close. I am crying now.
This little boy may not have lived long; but he has left a lasting legacy. Everyone I speak to has said how much they have revisited their relationship with their own children. We all want to be the best parent we can be, but I realised – with no small degree of horror and shame – how many times I have raised my voice, have scolded without hearing the whole story, have not ‘had time’ to listen to my children’s chattering stories, have said ‘yes, we’ll do that later’ or ‘we will do that tomorrow’.
Sometimes, tomorrow is too late.
So I cry. For Caden. For David and Angela. For Caden’s brothers, Declan and Ethan, and for all his family and friends. I cry also for my own children, and all those times when we did nothing when we could have been doing something. For missed hugs and kisses, and tickles, and laughter.
Thank you, Caden, for bringing me to my senses.
Good night. God bless.
Caden’s school, Ladywell Primary in Motherwell, have released ‘O Holy Night’ as a tribute to Caden, with 90% of the proceeds going to Meningitis Research. You can download it for just 79p here.
You can find out more about meningitis, including meningococcal septicaemia and what to look out for here.