Harvey was 12 months older than Elin. He was the first other child I met who had severe Cerebral Palsy following Elin's birth. The hospital's 'Home Advisory Service' put me us in touch with his family when Elin was tiny. They thought it would help.
At first, it didn't.
I was frightened. I was scared of what I saw when I first met Harvey. He was unlike any one year old I had ever seen, his limbs were awkward, he struggled to feed, he was silent. I had a glimpse of our future and I wasn't ready to accept that version of what was to come. It was very early on and maybe I wasn't ready. I can't believe it now, of course, but I cried when I got home. I'm ashamed of this fact, but it's true. I was terrified.
But his Mummy came to visit again. She talked so much sense and understood what I was going through in a way nobody else I'd met ever had. She put Harvey on my knee. Didn't ask, just put him there. I liked this. It hadn't occurred to her that I might not want to hold him , why would it? She was Harvey's champion, pure and simple. I noticed she talked to Harvey all the time. I noticed he was listening. I cuddled him tight. He smiled at me.
Wow. Anyone who knew Harvey will never forget his mega-watt smile. It dazzled me. He laughed, I laughed too. Paul met him for the first time and thought he was amazing. He couldn't understand what I had been scared of when I'd first met him. I couldn't really remember now either. I started to realise that there was so much more to this gorgeous little boy than I ever could have imagined the first time I saw him. How stupid was I, when I had a baby Elin in a car seat at my feet, to judge any child by a fleeting first impression. I would hate for anyone to do that Elin, yet there I had been. I guess emotions sometimes overrule the head. I was thoroughly ashamed and will always be, of how I felt that first day we met.
Harvey became the light in our darkness. He helped us to heal when we thought we were broken forever.
That smile helped us to make sense of our strange new world.
Then on the 23rd January 2011, Elin was spending the afternoon at school - only her second week there. She was doing afternoon sessions to get used to it and would then swap to morning sessions whilst I was at work. (She would be picked up by the bus Harvey would be on, I was so glad she'd have a transport buddy. I made a book about her for her Teachers and in it I put a picture of her and Harvey and wrote "Harvey is my boyfriend") The phone rang. My heart plummeted in case it was school, what if something was wrong with Elin? It wasn't. It was far, far worse.
I still can't believe Harvey isn't with us. We keep his photograph in Elin's room and look at it every single day. Elin has lost other little friends since that day. It never gets any easier (and I'm glad it doesn't). But Harvey has to remain special to us, for being the reason I wasn't frightened anymore. For being the crack of light in the shadows we lived in during those early days.
On that day, when Elin lost her best friend, the Universe gained the brightest of stars.
Bless you Harvey, for all you were, are, and always will be to us, without ever even knowing it.