Only One of Me

UPDATE! You can now donate to #OnlyOneOfMe here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/onlyoneofme

Anyone else feeling the strain of the summer holidays?

I feel like a proper Cruella admitting to it, but I find six weeks of full time childcare kind of tough going. I long to hear my own thoughts instead of the constant waspish buzz of, “Mu-uuu-um…” I’m writing this post with my kids chasing around me, screeching, squabbling and generally driving me nuts.

Don’t get me wrong; I honestly appreciate spending time with them. But it’s hard to appreciate that time when half of it’s spent breaking up fights, trying to disguise chores as ‘games’ and screaming into pillows. The thing is, every parent needs a bit of time away from their kids. Us writers need space to let our imaginations roam. For example,

Imagine being told you wouldn’t live long enough to spend another summer with your kids.

It’s not a nice exercise, but it’s one I’ve been having to tackle lately as I write a very special story for a friend, Lisa Wells.

Luckily for me, it’s just an exercise. For Lisa it’s really happening.

Lisa and her daughters, Ava-Lily and Saffia

Lisa Wells was diagnosed with terminal bowel and liver cancer at the end of 2017. Her doctors suggest she has between just two and twelve months to live. She’s 32.

At the time of writing this, Lisa’s in hospital after yet another round of chemo and, on top of that, a pulmonary embolism. (What’s with those things?! Just a couple of weeks back one tried to kill my agent and friend James Catchpole while he was buying a quiche. Leave people alone, blood clots on the lungs!)

I honestly can’t begin to imagine how Lisa must feel – and not just because my kids are currently beating each other senseless and I’m finding it hard to concentrate.

Lisa wants her kids to get on her nerves. She wants them getting in her hair and under her feet. She just wants time with them, full stop.

But time is something she has far too little of. Even so, she’s filling every minute.

Lisa is the most incredible individual I’ve ever met.

Since her diagnosis Lisa hasn’t wasted time feeling sorry for herself. She’s raised both awareness and thousands of pounds for charity, all while undergoing chemo, working and raising her lovely daughters, Ava-Lily and Saffia. She’s even landed a starring role in Boyzone’s latest music video (she’s one of the sumo wrestlers…!).

Along the way Lisa’s also managed to enlist ‘Lisa’s Army‘, a group of friends, family and admirers committed to supporting her family through the months and years ahead. Maybe you count yourself amongst them if you saw Lisa interviewed on This Morning? 

Trust me, once you’ve met Lisa or heard her talk, you’ll be a fan. She’s fun, loyal, loving, brilliant and courageous – frankly she’s my hero.

This blog post is getting long: stick with me. Lisa is worth it and there’s something very special coming up at the end – please don’t skip ahead!

I’m lucky enough to be getting to know Lisa as we work on creating a book together.

ONLY ONE OF ME is a very special book with one purpose: to help families prepare for the loss of a parent.

Death isn’t a nice thing to think about, but for families like Lisa’s there’s no getting away from it. Some of us will find ourselves in this position one day. I hope it’s not me, I hope it’s not you and I really wish it wasn’t Lisa.

The fact is, 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, so chances are you already have your own cancer story to share.

My dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago. One of my closest friends, Helen Minnery, died from bowel and liver cancer just last year. I had my own diseased bowel removed after the development of polyps three years ago.

My diagnosis came early. I live with a stoma, but I live. Lisa hasn’t been so lucky.

Dan, Lisa, baby Saffia and Ava-Lily

Without much more waffle – honestly! – I’d like to share the story Lisa and I have created with you now.

It’s been hard for Lisa to focus on writing while she’s in pain and frankly has more important things to think about. But as in all things she’s thrown herself into the challenge, helping me see life from her perspective.

We hope to publish ONLY ONE OF ME in time for Lisa to hold a copy in her hands and share it with her family. It’s Lisa’s wish that the resulting book will help other families facing bereavement long into the future, bringing them comfort and raising funds for her favourite charity, Mummy’s Star (donate below if you’re able).

Before you read it you should know that ONLY ONE OF ME is a very powerful story. The reason I’m telling you this is not just so you can fetch tissues (although you probably should).

A book that helps kids who are about to lose a parent is important, but it’s also kind of niche. While it’s a sad truth that there are far too many families who would benefit from a book like this, in publishing terms it’s not mainstream enough to warrant the costs of traditional publishing. (We’d like to thank all of the editors who have been so supportive of what we’re doing, by the way – THANK YOU.)

Here are some specific things you might be able to do to help us turn this story into a not-for-profit book, ultimately getting it into the hands and laps of more families who could really use it.

If you can simply share this post you’ll help us make all important NOISE about our project.

Maybe you’re a small publisher who can get behind Lisa?

Maybe you’re a cancer charity who knows there’s a real and lasting need for her book?

Maybe you’re an illustrator with a vision for how this story might be brought to life? (If you feel inspired to sketch a scene from the text below, Lisa and her family would be MADE UP to see it. Please share it using the hashtag #OnlyOneOfMe – we’ll keep our eyes peeled! ❤)

If you like our story and would like to help it become a book that will go on to help many other families like Lisa’s, you can donate here. HUGE THANKS!

Note: The illustrations will be gender neutral, so that a DAD version of the text can also be printed.

ONLY ONE OF ME

by Michelle Robinson and Lisa Wells

There’s only one mum quite like me.

I wish that there were two.

I’d have more time to spend

And I would spend it all with you.

 

There’s only one mum quite like me.

But what if there were three . . . ?

We’d journey far together.

Oh, the places we would see!

 

There’s only one mum quite like me.

But if there could be four . . .

We’d wrap our arms around you,

Keep you safe for ever more.

 

There’s only one mum quite like me.

I’d sooner there were five.

We’d tell you how we love you    

Every day we were alive.

 

But there is only one of me.

I’ll love you all my days.

If only I had more of them.

I’d stay with you always.

 

I’d fill your life with happiness.

I’d wipe away your tears.

I’d hold your hand and guide you,

Stay beside you through the years.

 

I’d tell you, “I am proud of you.”

I’d teach you, “You are strong.”

I’d let you know, “I’ll love you

Even after I am gone.”

 

So I am asking Daddy

And I’m asking Auntie too.

Uncles, Grannies, Grandpas, friends –

Here’s what you all must do:

 

Become a little bit like me –

Not quite like mum, but try.

Help my children learn to live

If one day I should die.

 

Give them all your time and love.

Lead them far and wide.

Keep them safe and hold them tight

Long after I have died.

 

For there is no one quite like them

As you can plainly see.

I’ll love them even when I’m gone

With you all helping me.

 

That is what I’m asking them.

I’ll ask you something, too.

It’s just a little something

That I know you’ll love to do.

 

Be a little bit like mum.

Be kind!

Be brave!

Be free!

 

Remember only joy and fun

When you remember me.

 

Love you always,

Mummy xxx

Once again: if you liked Lisa’s story, please donate to Mummy’s Star here! Thank you.