Two years on from the Foxglove Poisoning

Two years. Two years have passed since Esme’s Adventure with Foxgloves. Today is a similar sort of day, it’s warm and dry, just the sort of day for running around the fields catching falling leaves (if you catch one before it hits the floor you get to make a wish), but today I’m staying in. 

I might wander into the garden later, let the wind blow away the cobwebs, but for now I’m content on this side of the window. Watching the bluetits squabble over the bird feeder, and the red kite get tossed this way and that in the gusty sky. 

Today is the day that I can’t pretend. I can’t pretend that I don’t hold a deep-seated fear. I can’t pretend that I don’t sometimes look at Esme and think, “What if..?” 

I have been so careful not to fall into the dangerous trap of overprotectiveness. It would be a false-safety to never let her learn that the world is not all soft edges. She is hardy and sensible and brave. 

Her younger brother is now older than Esme was when she ate those Foxglove leaves. It almost feels like an invisible threshold has passed. I have so many blessings to count. So very many, but today it is ok to just sit and wallow for a while. 

We don’t take enough time to wallow. Someone always has it worse. We can always look for the good, but ignoring pain just lets it sneak up on you when you’re not looking. I still cannot listen to the song that was playing in Intensive Care without tears. It came on the radio the other day. It didn’t know better, it wasn’t aware that it shouldn’t have. Oh the tears. Not even crying, no heaving sobs, or gulping breaths, just a silent river of tears that have to take their course and wend their way. 

Two years ago Esme ate Foxglove leaves and became incredibly ill. Today she is healthy and happy with a head full of golden curls and an impish grin. 

Just as I was frustrated two years ago about the lack of meaning in such a horrible accident, I am frustrated now by the same. There is no greater meaning when bad things happen. There is no personal growth. I have not learned and become a better person for it. 

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t create meaning. People shared Esme’s story and maybe one day it will stop another accident happening. I have learned not to fight against my anger and pain, but to let it wash over me. I’d prefer not to have the anger and pain, but hey, you can’t have everything, and they are different with time added to the mix. Those ripples in the pond are becoming smaller with greater gaps in between. 

The world keeps turning, children keep doing ridiculously stupid things, we keep doing our best. 

And the happiness? The happiness is in the little moments. Morning elbow drops from small people, feeding the birds, making wishes on oak leaves. 

Today’s wish will be for more small happinesses. You can keep your flashy ecstasies, I’ll take running through sheets hanging on a line, or watching TV cuddled in front of a roaring fire, or looking for shells on a beach over your big stuff. 

Give me small moments, and give me lots of them, and you can have your occasional river of tears. 

Advertisements

The Foxgloves Return

    

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Foxgloves. But today I went for a walk in the field where this blog all began with Esme’s Adventure with Foxgloves.

The foxgloves are out in force. Even more so than last year. They’re everywhere and they’re beautiful.

I thought I’d reached a point of coping with it all. I make jokes. I’m flippant. 

Sometimes people comment about how relaxed I am about it. I’m not. Beneath the surface I’m traumatised and frightened. The What-Ifs still haunt me. But less often than before.

This morning has made me somber.

Esme was with me on the wander. I held her hand and pointed at the flowers.


“Can I touch them?” I asked her.

“Yes.” She said, “Beautiful flowers.”

“Beautiful flowers, but they make you very sick. Don’t touch.” She nodded as though she understood. 

We came to another clump, “Can I touch these ones?”

“Yes.” She said firmly.

“No,” I repeated, “They make you sick. Ouch. Don’t touch.”


She nodded again.

Every time I asked if I could touch them, she said yes, and I despaired.

But she’s still only two. My tiny idiot is still small.

I’ve kept on top of the encroaching foxgloves in the garden. It hasn’t been easy. But they’re under my control now.

I don’t want to control nature. I don’t want to control the beautiful wildflowers in the field. I don’t want the bumble bees to stop bumbling into them. I don’t want the caterpillars to move on. I want it all to carry on as it did before it changed my world.

I want my tiny idiot to stick to her evolutionary programming that tells us not to eat things that taste that bitter.

But she’s decided to take a different path, and I’m going to have to parent the child in front of me.

As for her, she is great. She’s wonderful and perfect and infuriating.

It’s a bank holiday weekend, and we’re going to spend it outside, as so many will.

Can I just make one small request? Could you have one quick double check around the garden if you do have small children. Just a casual glance. 

If you’re planting foxgloves, I don’t blame you, they’re gorgeous, then just take a moment to think about putting them somewhere small children can’t get to them. 

Remind your children not to eat things they find outside. Don’t assume they remember you saying it last year, like I did.