Valerie his mum had been entering competitions for two years, she was determined she would help Jack get his wish come true and as TV programmes like Jim’ll fix it did not exist now she had to opt for entering competitions spending fortunes on magazines and papers and also buy food products the family didn’t even like, all for her son Jack.
Jack was now sixteen years of age, born with Cerebral Palsy he was wheelchair-bound, despite this he was able to communicate and knew exactly what he wanted from life.
His mum and dad taught Jack all the values he needed, he was a credit to both of them as he surpassed many pupils in his class, his reports from school were always exceptional as well as his attendance, his disability did not affect his eagerness to thrive. Jack wasn’t the only child in the family, he had an older brother called David, David was twenty- three Years old Valerie and her husband decided to have a gap in their family additions they did long for a girl but were delighted having two sons. His brother David acted the part of big brother, taking Jack to football, the movies, long walks, and fishing, they did everything together when David lived at home. David did very well at school and had his own IT business, he worked from home and had a huge client list, visiting their premises and advising of all the major products and services they would need to succeed in business, yes he was to be proud of and Valerie was proud of her older son. All went well within the family unit, dad worked away on the oil rigs, only getting two weeks off every four, Valerie managed to cope with Jack with the assistance of David, luckily because he worked from home David was able to drive Jack to school and pick him up after so the whole scenario worked out perfectly. With David’s support Valerie could do her chores and prepare the meals daily, she often thanked David for his support, he usually turned red shrugged his shoulders and replied, “that’s what I am here for mum” Valerie usually gave him a huge hug just to let him know he was loved and appreciated, David usually ran off.
From time to time David had to go away on business when this happened Valerie could rely on the school to come to pick Jack up as they were lucky to have a donated specialized van for picking up children with disabilities so every option was always covered. David was staying overnight in London, Valerie made a mental note to contact the school before it closed to organize Jacks lift in the morning because she had so much on her mind she wrote it down on the magnetized note board on the fridge. When David was away the house was quiet, Jack would be in his bedroom either listening to his favorite pop group or watching TV, so Valerie could get on with the usual chores, in the evening she usually sat doing a puzzle having a glass of wine but this particular evening she was melancholy and thought back to the time Jack was born. No one had any idea Jack was going to be born with his disease, all checks came back negative, Valerie recalls having a real bad time having Jack compared to David’s birth but put it down to them being never the same.
John luckily was at home when they were rushed to the hospital, Valerie was in tremendous pain and grabbed Johns cuff hoping that this would relieve the pain, no time for any drugs as the trip lasted several minutes again she was rushed to the delivery room, doctors piled in as did the nurses, it was like a scene from a tragic accident rather than a woman giving birth to a child. Standard procedure, she heard a nurse say with a mask over her face, the doctors got prepared for the delivery, by this time Valerie was climbing the walls, dying to push but being told not yet in a harsh but advisable way from the nurse towering over her, Valerie just wanted it to end, and within minutes it was, Jack was rushed to the baby ward as he had difficulty breathing, the nurse looked down at Valerie and again muttered “standard procedure” not very comforting when your baby is rushed away at ninety miles an hour!
Three days later Valerie got to hug her baby, John had tears in his eyes, he was quite a sensitive man, one of the reasons Valerie fell in love with him way back then, a few minutes ago she would have denied all knowledge of John but that was the pain. After Valerie bonded with her baby, she was visited by a doctor still masked, he must have been at another delivery coming directly from there as Valerie noticed the smell of the same chemical visible at her visit to the delivery room. His face was ashen, he looked tired, Valerie knew there and then call it Mothers instinct she knew something wasn’t right. The Doctor closed the curtains and gathered John into the conversation like a shepherd leading his flock. He had them afraid there is bad news expression on his face, Valerie knew this as she too was a practice nurse fully trained and still worked part- time when she could fit it in with Jack, she was in the same position as the Doctor many times, so she could relate to the scene John was more perplexed than Valerie when the Doctor finally came out with his news, he paused so many times John was beginning to get agitated, having had no sleep and still being high from the birth of his son.
All you could see was John putting his head in his hands and Valerie kind of gobsmacked as they listened to what the Doctor had to say, an expression of how could this be possible ran over Valerie’s face John said nothing but did not surface from his hands. Valerie paused her thoughts to pour another glass of wine, it was as if her brain had stopped and reminded her it was relaxation time, therefore, a glass of wine was in order which Valerie was ready for. John took the news the hardest he spent about two hours questioning Doctors as to how this could have gone unnoticed, during scans, tests etc which Valerie attended faithfully throughout her pregnancy. All John was told that it was “an act of God” as nothing was ever detected during the pregnancy, John asked was it because he couldn’t breathe when he was born the Doctor did not discount this theory then tried to veer John to the positives.
John and Valerie accepted what they were given and although Jack had this disease they would still love and treat him as respectful as they did with David, John said “what’s the point going on about this when it will not change anything and from that day they never spoke of the why’s and wherefores again, At this point Valerie’s thoughts were interrupted by the telephone ringing, she wondered how long it had been ringing as Jack was shouting from his bedroom, “mum phone” Valerie came too and walked over to the phone, she felt a bit light-headed having had two glasses of wine, she wasn’t used to alcohol. She said hello to the caller, she felt she was slurring her speech but began to control, it once the conversation got into full swing. It was David calling from his hotel in London, strange thought Valerie he didn’t usually call, hope everything is OK, she prayed.” Hi, mum” David’s voice was excited, bouncy, he was usually but Valerie detected it was more than normal.I have met a beautiful girl he went on to say,
“Mum you will love her, her name is Rebecca” Valerie paused and David asked if she was ok? Valerie was still a bit giddy and did take a while to respond it wasn’t as if David never had girlfriends before, he was quite a handsome lad in fact so was Jack, Valerie got a bit big-headed and continued to listen. David told his mum he was bringing Rebecca back home with him to meet the family, Valerie paused then remembered his dad wasn’t due back for another week, she didn’t feel the need to tell David this as he knew his dad was still away, Valerie assumed he had taken this into consideration. After their goodbyes, Valerie hung up the receiver then went directly to Jacks room, it was time for his bed, she had to help him get ready a task Jack was never happy about as he was a growing lad and knew deep down it wasn’t right for his mum to undress him, David normally did it, Jack just swallowed his pride as it was only now and again this happened dad would normally be there as well.
Valerie spent time talking with Jack and at least now she had something to say instead of the usual small talk bearing in mind Jack usually turned off and concentrated more on keeping his respect intact. Jack listened this time strangely he had bouts of that and when Valerie got his attention she nurtured it. Usually, Jack was a bit down when mum told him anything but the news from David made him chirpy as he settled into bed reading his magazine. Knowing his brother was coming home tomorrow gave him another boost as he said goodnight to his mum, Valerie headed into the kitchen her mind racing with the thought of meeting someone new it always did. Next morning Valerie got Jack ready, this was Saturday, Jack loved a Saturday it was either football or fishing depended on how David was feeling he got a bit down knowing as David was just coming home he wouldn’t be going anywhere but at least David always brought him something home from his trips.
David called his mum from the airport saying they were on their way and to get the “kettle on” David always said that when he called knowing full well Valerie would do it and have something nice to eat as well. Valerie heard the clink of a car door closing, Jack was as high as a kite, it usually took her two days to calm him down after his brother returned Valerie giggled to herself. David crashed through the door like a man possessed, he was also as high as a kite, probably more nervous than his mum bringing his girlfriend back to meet his family. Behind David, a “leggy” girl dressed more like she was going to nightclub rather than visiting someone at home walked to the front with her hand out and a wry smile seeming as if it was forced for Davids benefit.”Hello my name is Rebecca” she smiled as she said it, Valerie took her hand and introduced herself, David was more interested in a brew than introductions and headed towards the kitchen like a starved animal. It was all ready, Valerie beckoned them to sit down, Jack was talking to Rebecca but wasn’t getting a response, she looked out of the window and mumbled something under her breath Jack couldn’t hear and got louder, Valerie interrupted them and repeated what Jack had said, but she wasn’t interested she just stared out of the window, oh yeah Valerie enraged how rude is she?
David went over to Jack and handed him a parcel, “hi mate” he screamed, “did you miss me”? Jack reached out to get a bear hug but Rebecca rudely stepped in front of them, Valerie got angrier by the minute, she was determined though she was going to try with this girl despite how she really felt deep down. She covered over David like a wet cloth, it was like something out of a sleazy mag, Valerie still tried to hold her patience as Rebecca started to talk about herself? Valerie sat quietly while she rambled on, about me me me. Every time Jack went to talk to David Rebecca would either sit on David’s lap or start a new conversation, did she have a problem? Before Valerie erupted David came out with a bombshell, “Mum” he said, Valerie continued sipping her tea, I have news he said, ready to burst, Valerie again took a sip of her tea and patiently awaited the news. David sat back on the leather sofa, Rebecca surrounded him like a rash, never once looking either Valerie or Jack in the eye, she only had an eye for David, Valerie convinced herself there, and then she didn’t like this girl but for the sake of her son, she would listen. Having only known each other for one day the news was David and Rebecca were getting married? Valerie nearly swallowed her cup, she thought someone would have to give her the Heinrich manoeuvrer it was that close.
The girl must have had magical powers, Valerie had never heard anything like it, but with the conversation, she listened to by Rebecca she instantly knew why. Rebecca was born into a very influential family, hence the rudeness Valerie thought to herself, she walked in “high circles” people like Valerie and Jack did not exist Valerie had this girl summed up in a sentence, “used to getting her own way” She knew celebrities and was used to the good life, money was no object she wanted it she got it, that’s the impression she gave Valerie. David agreed with everything Rebecca said, he sounded like a puppet, she moved her mouth and pulled his strings at the same time, it was unbelievable Valerie thought. David awaited an expression at least from his mum, Valerie was still choking as the news was indigestible, he asked her if she was alright she excused herself, went into the kitchen and turned the cold water tap on so forcefully she nearly pulled it off, David was at her back.
Surprisingly Rebecca sat where she was still staring out of the window while still ignoring Jack who by this time looked perplexed. Valerie didn’t know were to start, trying to keep calm she drank her cold water, David looked harassed and stood in front of his mum, “what’s up” he said? Valerie smiled sarcastically, she wanted to blow up but decided to be ladylike and continue her conversation, “don’t you like Rebecca” he said with some reservation in his voice.Valerie couldn’t believe her son, “what was to like” she replied? Awe mum you have to ignore her, she is always like this he said with a supporting tone, ” she is shy” by this time Valerie was again choking on her water,”shy” she burst out laughing and couldn’t stop, David looked disappointed at his mum who by now was ending herself with laughter. David stormed out of the house with Rebecca in tow, not once did they glance back for a response, they got into David’s car, the screech of the brakes could be heard for miles. Valerie’s laughter turned to tears as her son whom she loved dearly had been hypnotized by the “girl from hell” Jack noticed his mums tears and reached out to give her a hug, both of them were crying by now. John called home, he did on a daily basis, despite being away he liked to keep up with the news on the family front, this particular evening he detected sadness from Valerie and asked her what was the matter,”where do I start” she said knowing full well that although John was a terrific husband and Father he was laid back when it came to his sons, he allowed them to make heir own decisions as long as it didn’t affect him or Valerie, and as long as the decisions were legal. Valerie let everything off her chest, John uttered some words but allowed his wife to get everything out, he knew interrupting her would make her worse so over the years he learned to let her talk then when she paused long enough that was his queue to say his piece, Valerie knew what his response would be, but she still needed support, she missed her husband, missed his input, missed him around the home, missed cuddling him in bed, but she knew John was good at his job and was needed by his company, she supposed she was just feeling lonely.
As predicted John did not give the response she wanted, his attitude was David was a man and could make his own decisions, John was old-fashioned brought up in a large family, he left home when he was 19, married Valerie within six months, so he expected every guy should be the same, why should they look after their kids forever they had to leave the nest sometime, Valerie didn’t share his views but knew it would be no good stressing the point and changed the subject to everyday matters. Valerie had not heard from David for weeks, she stressed out at this because not only did she have Jack to support, but she missed her oldest son, selfishly she knew she needed David but being stubborn she tried to “make do” but with a struggle. Valerie struggled on, she always made sure Jack wasn’t aware of family disputes, there wasn’t many but when they did occur it was all out war, John had been home and away again, he wasn’t that concerned about David although he yours faithfully David and Rebecca. Valerie was shocked, how could they organize a wedding without the very fact his dad was working away and where was the mention of Jack? Valerie tried to call David’s mobile phone but the answering machine was on, she left a message for him to call her back, she was even more agitated than before.
All afternoon Valerie banged about the kitchen in a fury every thought being an angry one, she had expected better of her son, she never for one moment ever thought he would do this, she admitted this girl was good and thought out everything she was going to say to David when he called back later, but she was going to be calm, that was her mission, to be calm. By the time David called back she had calmed down a bit, not a lot as she was still angry, she had the braveness of a glass of wine behind her, so she felt able to compose herself but still have her say. David still sounded miffed, his tone was a disappointed little boy who never got sweets at the supermarket when mum had gone shopping. Valerie kept her calm as promised, she asked all the questions she had built up the whole afternoon waiting on her son calling back. The reason Jack could not attend the wedding was supposed because the Hotel was the reception was being held wasn’t user-friendly to wheelchairs, Valerie did not for one moment believe that, although she knew herself many places in Town were still in the stone ages when it came to adapting. As for his Fathers absence, David said he called his dad and was told to carry on, Valerie knew this probably was true, so she did not question it, she would have words with John when he called, she made another mental note.Valerie said she was apprehensive about attending the wedding without Jack or her husband, never did she go to any function without either one of them and that included David although it seems he had a short memory in this case.
David pleaded for her to go, he felt it was her place to be by his side when he got married, Valerie again mumbled under her breath “short memory” weeks ago he had charged out and never bothered to call, but now he was putting her on the spot. The following day Jack started asking where his brother was, he didn’t understand what was going on, his life was simple, he never even spoke to girls let alone have a relationship, although slyly going down the road he would glare at the pretty girls Valerie knew that expression and smiled when it happened. Jack was insistent when he got like this Valerie always knew it was best to explain, once he got something into his head he needed an answer, it was obvious he missed his brother and wondered why he wasn’t around. Valerie decided to tell him a small white lie, right now she did not need the confrontation she would get with him, luckily he accepted the story and settled down. The day of the wedding finally came, Valerie had a dress she had bought specially for the wedding also she bought a hat she had always fancied wearing a hat but wasn’t invited to any family weddings to wear one, now was her golden opportunity although she had wished it was a happier occasion, not that she didn’t want her son to be married but it was the way the whole thing was done, as if there was no tomorrow, Valerie thought to herself it would have been easy to swallow had they needed to get married, if she was in the family way, but knowing Rebecca it would be sometime before that happened and even then it would have to be in the fashion, this gave Valerie the need to giggle, and she did, but no one heard her. Jack was being looked after by the Fosters, aptly named, they lived next door and always loved having Jack, they thought he was a terrific boy, he always let on to them when either of them were in the garden or in Town, Jack would always wheel over to say hello, this made the Fosters happy as they could never have any children of their own, Valerie stopped, too long a story to go into, she had enough on her mind for now.
The car arrived on time to pick Valerie up, as expected it was the most expensive limousine she had ever seen in her life, luxury on wheels is how she always described them, secretly she wanted a ride but never thought she would in her lifetime, naturally with the Limo comes the chauffeur and yes he had a hat, so this completed the picture as he opened the door for Valerie who felt today she was a Queen for a moment the hostility left her but not for long as she started to get nervous meeting her side of the family, traditionally done way before the actual wedding but this was not a normal wedding where everyone got involved, well at least the Mother of the Groom. The driver went slow, Valerie admired the view and at times felt like sticking her hand out and waving to the crowds outside some shops they passed she felt like Royalty but decided against the hand thing.
She could see people but no one could see her as the Limo have tinted glass, it was like being in an interrogation room on one of those shows on TV where there was a two-way mirror, Valerie again smiled, this was great she thought. Valerie gulped as the driver stopped outside one of the plushest Hotels she had ever seen, despite the fact she and John lived comfortably they were never spoiled with the finer things in life except maybe when they got married and had their honeymoon in the Bahamas Valerie thought to herself, yes that was top-notch. After saying her goodbyes to the driver and trying to tip him she headed for the entrance to the Grand Hotel her face was reddish as she made a fool of herself trying to tip a driver who was probably paid one hundred times more than she offered him, but she wasn’t to know, this was all new to her, she got over it and was met in the entrance hall by another man in uniform.
The Hall was not full to the brim, with people standing both sides of the aisle, the staff also stood there with solemn faces except for the pretty girl she had a natural smile which beamed throughout the hall. At last the ceremony began, David walked down the aisle alone, he looked straight at Valerie and gave her a smile, five minutes later the music began, Valerie raised her eyes hoping no one would see her, she then put her attention back to David who had his back to the hall. The wedding march played loudly in the hall as the double doors opened, Rebecca and what must have been her Father entered the Hall and slowly walked down, she had a smile on her face which lasted until she got to Valerie she then her lowered her eyes as if she was disappointed she had turned up, secretly she was probably hoping she didn’t.
Rebecca’s father looked proud, he even looked the part of an eccentric gent, long handlebar moustache perfectly curled as if it had been stuck on with glue, maybe it was Valerie pondered and again smiled to herself. The ceremony went well, both of them turned around and walked out of the hall, David smiled at Valerie again as everyone got ready to leave the hall, before she left Valerie got out her digital camera and took a picture of the hall, she was in love with its elegance.
The reception had started, once all the formalities were over, Valerie was sat at David’s right at least she had her place, she thought maybe she would be asked to serve drinks or something, she was being inwardly sarcastic, never before had she seen so much money under one roof, everyone had bling that would sink the titanic, even the men she noticed! Valerie was finally introduced to Rebecca’s family but it wasn’t her who introduced them it was David “bitch” Valerie mumbled under her breath, she was quite astonished at herself, usually, she was placid and could stand those women who were bitches but the whole episode had riled her.
The family she was introduced to had dollar bills all over them, and they knew it, they spoke as if they had a marble in their mouth, thankfully the music began and most of them got up to dance except an elderly lady who must have been too old to get up, she looked fed up as if she was forced to do something she really didn’t want to, Valerie nodded at her but got no response just a glare, God she thought its like the Adams family “The reception was finally near the end, David had danced with Valerie three times, she was happy but still had a loathing for his new wife, she was reluctant to tell her daughter-in-law, she was determined not to call her that, she was lucky if she saw her more than twice at the reception which suited Valerie she did notice when she was dancing with David she glared at them both him with love, her with contempt.
David and his wife left the reception hall to cheers and confetti all over them, they were going to Jamaica for their honeymoon, how nice Valerie thought, news to her. All guests who attended the wedding were given a room for the night and that included Valerie, she left quietly and swiftly as she did not want to get involved with the other guests or Rebecca’s family, she had had enough of the snide glares for one day. The room was as glamorous as the rest of the building, Valerie sighed and flung herself on the expensive looking bed tossing her heels off as she jumped, shower in the morning or bath? She played with each idea and decided on a long soak she deserved it, she felt her eyes going, she was tired, drained would be the right word, but before she went to bed she needed to call and make sure Jack was okay.
Scraping off the makeup which took seconds compared to putting it on she reached for the house telephone, this was nice she thought “one could get used to this”, she put on her Royal voice again and laughed before dialing the Fosters number. It seemed ages before anyone picked up the phone Valerie thought, but she remembered that Foster’s phone was in the hall, and they were not getting any younger Valerie thought to herself how impatient am I and scolded herself in fun.
At last, the phone was answered it was Mr. Foster, he didn’t sound very well,” hello” he said in a voice very low Valerie had difficulty hearing him, he said it again, “hello” this time he spoke louder.”Hi, Mr. Foster” Valerie chirped, before she could say anything else Mr. Foster said, “Valerie is that you”? Valerie’s stomach turned she didn’t like his tone, it sounded worried. “Is everything OK she asked with urgency in her voice” Mr. Foster said in a teary voice, “you must come home immediately”then the phone disconnected, Valerie was distraught she didn’t know what to do, she called John at work he may have heard something before her she was shaking as she dialed the rigs number, she didn’t wait long for a reply and was told John was on his way home as there was an urgent family matter to attend to, . Valerie by this time was frantic, she got out her mobile phone, she had to switch it off in the hall as everyone was reminded on the way in, to stop any disturbances during the ceremony.
When she turned on her phone there were eleven missed calls and three voice messages, the tears were now running down her cheeks as she called the answering service shaking like a leaf. There were two calls from John and the rest was from both Mr. and Mrs. Foster, she called John back on his Mobile phone and frustratingly got the answering service, she immediately called downstairs to get a taxi to take her home. When she arrived home there was an ambulance, two Police cars and other cars she couldn’t recognize apart from Johns he was parked outside on the main road obviously he couldn’t get any nearer, the panic was all over Valerie’s face, she feared the worst as she knocked the Fosters door. John answered the door, his face was ashen, tears were rolling down like a tidal wave, he reached out to hug Valerie, but she pushed him out of the way to get into the house to see what was going on.
In the lounge Mr. Mrs. Foster was being questioned by a Police Officer, Valerie screamed “COULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” John grabbed her and gestured her to sit down, it, s Jack he mumbled softly, it was as if he couldn’t even say his name, “what’s wrong, has he had an accident” she asked? Before John could answer she asked, “where is he? Where is my son”?
Mr. Foster came over a brandy and beckoned Valerie to sit down, he was the as stern-faced as Valerie can ever recall him being, she was now very worried, John interrupted her train of thought by saying, “It’s Jack he has” John couldn’t finish the sentence, “HE HAS WHAT” Valerie asked getting more and more angry, through either pain or frustration John shouted at the top of his voice “HE HAS KILLED HIMSELF” Valerie fell as if the very life had just left her, she was nodding all the way before she hit the floor, the next time she knew she was in bed and thought it had all been a horrible dream. Valerie heard voices coming from downstairs, still semi-conscious she got up looked in the mirror then headed down to see what was going on, her brow still sweaty from the nightmare she just had, she had already taken her make-up off, so she had no indication she had even been out let alone at a wedding reception of her sons.
The strange man now entered the room having heard John struggle to tell his wife the bad news, he spoke softly but firmly, Mrs. Copeland, I am afraid its true, your son Jack committed suicide last night around 8.30pm he had taken 200 paracetamol he was dead on arrival at the City Hospital, we have no idea where he got the tablets from or why he did what he did, perhaps when you are ready you can shed some light on the matter, Valerie looked at the strange man in contempt, she wasn’t about to accept her son was dead, not Jack, he had everything to live for, he was going to meet his pop group his idols by this time Valerie was hysterical, John grabbed her and pinned her to the sofa for her own safety.
The coroner’s finding was that Jack had taken his own life the case was closed, Jack was buried beside his Grandma he always wanted to be with her, and he now had his wish come true. His pop group idols attended Jacks’s funeral and left a disc of their songs for him to listen to in Heaven David and Rebecca did not attend Jacks’s funeral, the family attending consisted of Valerie, John and Jacks’s Aunt Emilia. Several months later when Valerie was able to face sorting out Jacks’s things she came across an envelope she never noticed it before when she constantly tidied up after jack, the front had ” to Mum, Dad, and David”It read.” Dear Mum, Dad, and David.I am writing to tell you how much I love you all, I am aware that you have looked after me all my life, without any complaint, I know I could be difficult at times please believe me when I say I had a good life, you all made sure of that, there are no regrets apart from one, I cannot live without my brother, he is my life, without him I have nothing, yes I have you both but David was more than a brother he was a friend. I realize his new wife doesn’t like me I knew that from the start but I let it go for David’s sake. This way you all can continue with your lives and not worry about me, I will be with grandma now, so I will be looked after, don’t be sad, be happy for me…” love you always Jack. Valerie fell to the floor in a heap crying herself to sleep clutching Jack’s letter. David and Rebecca never came near John and Valerie or even called them until both of them passed away then David appeared and attended to their affairs
Prologue Blood is thicker than Water loved his sons he wanted them to make their own way and no one or nothing could convince him otherwise. Three days after John left something arrived in the post, it was evident it was some kind of invitation, the envelope was gold trimmed with a formal name on the front, the stamp was franked rather than having a normal stamp on it, Valerie looked puzzled, headed for the kitchen for a knife to carefully open the letter, “wonder what this is” she thought to herself.” Dear mum”You are cordially invited to the Wedding of David Copeland and Rebecca Swift we would be pleased if you could confirm your attendance.