Welwyn Garden City mum: 'Every day all I want is my son back'
PUBLISHED: 11:38 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 09 January 2019
A bereaved Welwyn Garden City mum has told how she is "silently screaming in pain" 16 years after the death of her young son.
Cheryl Chapman, 51, and husband Michael, 55, live in the same Boundary Lane home in Welwyn Garden City as they did when Anthony died aged 14, following a 10-year battle with leukaemia.
The tormented mum of three has spoken to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, close to the anniversary of his death, because she wants to raise awareness that surviving child loss is a lifelong process.
Cheryl said: “It’s like living two lives – one where you pretend everything is okay and another where you’re silently screaming in pain.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t think about Anthony.
“I feel totally numb most of the time.
“It is hard describe how life is without Anthony. I do the best I can but some days it is a struggle to get out of bed.
“We know life goes on but ours stopped the day Anthony passed away.
“I feel envious of parents who still have their 30-year-old children.”
Her son would have celebrated his 30th birthday on September 14.
It coincides with the 30-year anniversary of the hospice, which helped the family so much when they needed it most.
East Anglia Children’s Hospice (EACH) in Milton, Cambridge, was opened by Princess Diana in 1988. Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is a royal patron and visited recently with Prince William.
Every year, Anthony’s family and friends hold a barbecue at their home in his memory on his birthday.
But they feel now it is time to celebrate his life in a different way and would like to encourage people to donate to the hospice.
They have never felt able to return to the hospice for its annual remembrance service because the pain and fear of going back to the place where the teenager died is too intense.
Cheryl said: “After 16 years since Anthony passed away, the pain of losing him is still as hard as it was on that day [November 26, 2002].
“Every day all I want is my son back.
“Life will never be the same.
“We take life one day at a time.
“You never expect to bury your son, no matter what age they are.
“It’s like having the weight of the world in your heart as it’s so heavy and hurts.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
“He was the sunshine in everyone’s lives.
“I have dreams where he is alive and walking around.
“He is well – no leukaemia, no hospitals.
“It’s great to see him again and hear his voice.
“Then you wake up and it’s back to a very harsh reality that he isn’t here and the pain spreads through your body so fast it’s unreal.”
Yet there is a glimmer of hope alongside the sadness.
Her 12-year-old granddaughter has brought her joy and laughter since she was born.
And she even shares her late uncle’s sense of humour - and looks like him.
“When Macayle was born she brought us out of a very long dark tunnel.
“Sometimes my granddaughter looks at me and it is as if Anthony is looking at me”, Cheryl added.
For ways to support EACH, or make a donation, go to www.each.org.uk.