Saturday 8th December 2012
I’m up early. I’ve not been able to sleep very well. This weekend is a big weekend for us and I’m a bit nervous. I don’t really know what to expect, I don’t know who’s going to be there or what we’ll be doing. I’m getting ready and I have butterflies, it’s making me feel a little sick. I know I need to get a move on, I need to be there for 8 and we’re running a bit late.
On the drive I start to relax. Only a little though. I’m still pretty nervous but now I’m getting excited. This just increases the butterflies, the excited flutters are mixing nicely with the worry flutters but it’s not such a bad feeling.
We’re here. Theres a frost mist all over the fields. The buildings like I remember. Mr C is with me and he’s never been before so he’s carefully taking it all in. We go inside and it’s lovely and warm. Theres a ‘Welcome to Grief Camp’ sign which makes me smile. Kelly managed to find someone to make one! I sign in and make my way to the dining room. A couple of people have already arrived. I have a mooch round the room to see where we’ll all be sat. Volunteers sit with the families of the children they’ll be buddying, and families sit together. We’ve met the kids a couple of weeks ago when we did some ice breaker games and name games at the office, so I know what the girl I’m buddying looks like. I’m always eager to meet the parents and carers though, try to reassure them that I’ll look after their child for them through the weekend. Mr C has gone outside to put the gazebo up, just incase it rains later, nothing will dampen anything this weekend. Other volunteers start arriving. Some I’ve met before some are new and this is their 1st camp. Everyone mills around, sorting their rooms out, making brews, catching up. Families aren’t arriving until 9 so we’ve got a little while to go before they get here.
I’m sat having a coffee, I’m pretty relaxed now until someone reminds me I’m facilitating the first activity! Ooops! Ok I hadn’t forgotten and I’m pretty sure about what I’m going to say but oh gosh! A room full of 50+ people! Best have another coffee!!
Kids and parents are arriving, Nat puts a bit of music on so it’s not so scary walking into a room of virtual strangers. Introductions are made, people find their tables and eat breakfast. When everyone’s arrived we settle down. This is it.
Kelly stands up. ‘Hello Everyone!’
Grief Camp December 2012 has begun!
Sunday 9th December 2012
I’m stood on a the side of Rivington reservoir and I’m watching nearly 100 balloons with tiny messages of love written on card float up over the water and into the sky. I’ll be honest, I’m fighting back the tears, it’s not easy. Fix You is playing, I try not to listen to the lyrics, but I know the song so can’t help it. I’ve not written a card but I had a little thought as I let my balloon go. I look around at the children stood with their families, arms round each other, cuddling, sharing, crying together. I think back on what I’ve had the opportunity to experience over the weekend.
We’ve made memory boxes, wrote letters, shared worries, talked, created salt jars, thrown clay, juggled, abseiled, seen santa, played drums, lit candles, had campfires.
These children have come to us and they’ve trusted us with their bereavement. They’ve talked to us, shared with us, laughed with us, cried with us, felt a bit angry with us, smiled with us, ate with us, shared their memories with us, created memories with us and had fun with us. How privileged am I? These children have made friends, they know they’re not alone. They know that there are people who feel how they feel, can understand why they’re angry, know it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to talk about their special person, it’s ok to have fun, it’s ok to cry.
You can actually see the change in them, from arriving yesterday morning shy, nervous, worried, to now. Confident, smiling, remembering, stronger. Like heavy weights have been lifted from their shoulders. Shoulders that are too young to have experienced and carried more than most of the adults I know.
I can’t help the tears. All the hard work is worth it. I’m proud but I’m worried. Proud of what we do, how we help, the camps we help create, the difference we make. I’m worried ’cause this could be it. This could be the last one. I hope it won’t be, don’t think it will be so I push the thought to the back of my head. I’m hoping. Concentrate on the now. Think about the next time and knowing I’ll be there no matter what. I need to be there, WE need to be there. Without us who will support these kids, these families?
What a weekend.
We did that. We did that by being there. We did that by listening. We did that.
This charity. This Family. This Family I’m so lucky, so honored to be a part of.
We did that.
Me 2 You