This is a blog post that I hoped I would never have to write - but we have known for sometime that Charlotte's cancer was terminal and that her days were numbered. On Monday, her life came to an end. Far too early, far too soon. There really are no words - and certainly not in a blog post like this - that can do her justice and sum up what an extraordinary and unique person she was. It is such a relief that she is now free of pain.
As Laura Collins wrote on Charlotte's blog recently (to update us all) "She announced her terminal cancer diagnosis and then moved forward living each day in its turn."
She's even managed to write a book in the last 6 months, for crying out loud. It is a truly brilliant piece of work and all money spent on purchasing it goes to Charlotte's Helix so I urge you to buy it.
Speaking of her blog, where do you think the inspiration of the title of MY blog came from? Hers of course. I started mine about 6 weeks after her. She wrote some of the funniest, most poignant but also the most informative blogs I have ever come across - constantly humouring us, educating us and being incredible frank and honest about her illness.
Several things link Charlotte / her family and I - for starters: my mum went to school with her and I ended up at school with her daughters. Small world, I know.
We wanted to nominate her for a UK National Honour or the All in the Mind awards but there wasn't enough time. There is no question as to whether or not she deserved it. She dedicated her life to helping other parents and carers who have loved ones with eating disorders - dispelling the myths, standing up to several professionals who got it so wrong and just being there, holding their hands over the internet or on the phone. She spoke to families all over the world. Comforting and reassuring them. Telling them to just breathe and that their child's illness was not their fault. She introduced me to some of the most highly regarded ED professionals in the world including Prof. Bryan Lask and Prof. Janet Treasure OBE and I have met them both.
Charlotte is responsible for getting me the help when I needed it, for getting people to listen when they needed to hear and has taught me more than any book or professional has ever done. She gave me permission to be angry when things were infuriating and upsetting. One of the first emails she ever sent me was so reassuring and she just kept ending her messages with "Love you xx"
She was also responsible for introducing me to many wonderful people on the FEAST/ATDT forum and these friendships will last a lifetime and are somehow all the more special because we are all connected by Charlotte.
She rewrote my many appalling university lectures on the subject of eating disorders and offered to come and give them herself - she provided me with all the evidence I needed to prove to my tutors that the information we were being taught was wrong. She gave me the confidence to stand up to the lecturers and tell them exactly what was wrong with the information we were given.
Charlotte was unable to come to the FEAST conference in Nottingham in November 2012 and I was responsible for streaming the whole thing live from my laptop so that she could watch it from her sitting room (and Laura and others could watch it from across the pond). She always reminded me of what Susan Ringwood (CEO of beat) said at that conference "Everyone needs a Miranda".
My favourite pictures with her...
Picture 1: November 2010 - I spent the weekend with them cooking and laughing. This was literally only a few months after I had been ill and it was Charlotte who put the wheels in motion to make my recovery possible. And the second pic is G, E & I - I wore an apron all of that day, which made me feel very important. The two funniest things about that day was when Trouble their dog threw up on my boots as he was so delighted to meet me (we just had to laugh) and the second funny thing was getting everyone very drunk on the fruit cake I had made the week before, which I had lovingly injected with squirts of alcohol daily..
Picture 2: November 2013 - I was the first person in the UK to donate my DNA to Charlotte's Helix - such an honour and will hopefully inspire more people to register - it was so quick and easy.
Picture 3 - October 2013: The last time I ever saw her and I was able to spend the most heavenly day by the beach with her at their new house in Southwold. I bought the most wonderful Noa Noa dress that day from Collen and Clare, which I just love and will treasure forever:
She leaves behind two of the most beautiful, mature and kind daughters who I am so proud to call friends. And her husband is one of the coolest and funnest dads I know.
I hope I never have to go through what she had to, but if I do, I hope I do it with the same strength, determination and energy that she showed and the courage that the rest of her family are showing.
I am extremely sad that she has gone, in fact I still can't really believe or comprehend it. I am so angry that cancer has taken her from us. Nobody should have to face cancer, but why the hell do the nicest and most precious families in the world have to face it?
I am so grateful to people like OneMoreMum, Laura and the many FEAST mums for their love and support.
Charlotte said "YOU CAN DO THIS WITHOUT ME". We can and we will. Maybe not right now, but we will all gather as much strength as we can and do this together. For Charlotte and for the Helix.