A Summer afternoon in August
Anthony. Thank you for being you.
Thank you for your wide smile of pleasure, your instant greeting and brotherly affection as you held out your cheek for a kiss; thank you for taking my hand in yours, thank you for your lovely smiles and your gift of happiness, my darling brother. Thank you for so many precious hours, just being with you, laughing with you when your wonderful spirit came alight.
I remember the very last time so clearly. Why? How would I have known this was the last? The end of the Anthony I knew. Never again to hear your loud infectious laugh and the ripple of laughs that followed.
August. Your mummy and mine had passed out of our lives just weeks earlier. It caught at me when I saw you, your wellbeing in my hands. Just me, weighed down with grief but how to tell you. A suggestion from Janet at Us in a Bus for Tiw and Lynne to use photographs and work with you to understand. You needed me more than you knew, and I needed you. The shift in responsibility had caught up with me.
Standing on the neat grass outside your beloved Gallwey that warm summer afternoon, engrossed, your head bowed, scanning the ground to spot a familiar object. I called to you and your head shot up. Eyes alight and then, irrepressible loud laughter and joy! Your heart and spirit soared as you sprinted free across the grass, too funny how I had just silently appeared from nowhere.
You jumped, laughing and bursting with happiness then throwing yourself heavily to the ground! A loud thump. Whew! Strength, stamina, energy, all contained. Nothing hurt, no reason for any fuss.
You bounced back up, still laughing - and then hopped and then a bigger jump, stamping shoes, the sense of connecting with the ground. Running forwards, laughing aloud and drawing your energy in to a halt, another heavy hop and jump on the spot.Eyes shining brightly into mine as I faced you, connecting, eyes laughing with yours. So funny, that! You laughed louder in your unique way as though nothing was more magical than this unexpected meeting on the Green.
Laughs gradually fading as you caught your breath again, and then again until the gasps slowed and you were all laughed out. You had laughed like this all the years I’ve known you. Never predictable, always a surprise, a gift. The most special of all.
And I never heard you communicate with me like this again.
Anthony died in May 2015.
His inquest in October 2017 was an Article 2, the Right to Life.
The jury verdict was death contributed to by neglect.
A preventable death, a cruel death, a death by indifference.
Incomprehensible how cruelty and neglect existed in the very place where he should have been safe.