Well, it has started…

I think it’s the hanging around which is the most difficult to bear – the desire to be here in Hospital with Emma, and the realisation that everything else, including the needs of the other two and the pastoral work of the parish are set aside while we sit here… and do nothing.

Why are we here? Engaged in this vigil which I am not sure Emma really needs or wants (not quite a fully grown-up, self assured young woman, but almost, and still my little one). The surgery today could be (on reflection) a mere trifle – a benign cyst which can be removed by keyhole surgery, done and dusted, or something much more sinister and complex, and the beginning of a more complex form of treatment. It could, of course, be somewhere down the middle – something non-threatening that requires a bigger-than-keyhole surgery to resolve, but then that will be all.

Throughout this whole episode, Emma has remained sensible, realistic and very very grown up. She has demonstrated a maturity far beyond her 14 years and a matter-of-fact approach to the growth and the surgery.

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I am very proud of her.

I am also hugely touched by the prayers and masses offered for her, and for us. It has really made a difference. Colleagues from near and far have offered to cover funerals (but it is a bit quiet in Elson at the moment, to be honest). Others have offered to change their plans and many many more have set about working on their knees.

You have all supported us so wonderfully, and I want to pray tribute to you all.

The problem is now, how to cope with the massive stretches of nothingness: here we sit whilst she is in surgery – and we are powerless. It is in the hands of God, and his alone through the Gynaecologist, the very nice and highly thought of Mr Golland.

It is our faith which carries us through this. If you have experienced similar, or by reading this, simply have thought “there but for the grace of God, go I”, then you will see what I mean. This posting is very light on theology (as I suspect is this blog), but it carries with it the rawness of faith – the awareness of God and the profound comfort and assurance only He can give. I wonder idly whether the £135,000 raised for the Atheist bus posters really actually helps anyone, or whether the money shouldn’t have gone on third-world aid, or Great Ormond Street, or youth work in Elson rather than saying (rather weakly, I thought) that there probably wasn’t a God. Without faith, I don’t know how we would have got through this, and with the intercession of the faithful (that’s you), Our Blesséd Lady and the Company of Saints, Emma will be fine.

Simon+