In St Helens, Merseyside in the north of England, it was a brilliant, sunny day. The air was still cold as April tried to shake off her winter coat and begin to bask in the warmth of her sister May’s arrival.
April, though, for all of her spring flowers and newborn animals, held to her heart a very sad truth – so many babies and children had died during each of her reigns since time began.
On the 18th day of her short yearly dominion, April scrubbed the skies clean until they shone a dazzling blue. She took the sun into her arms and polished it until it shone like a multifaceted jewel with a lamp behind it.
She wanted to make a big effort. She wanted the Youens family to see that their precious little daughter that they would be holding the funeral for that day, was heading straight into the sky.
And what a beautiful sky it was.
Violet-Grace Susan Youens was only a baby. Four years of loving and being loved, she was treasured, precious and indescribably beautiful. She had a baby brother she adored and who adored her. She had a Mum and Dad that worshipped her and her brother. Her besotted parents were looking forwards to watching her grow and change with time. What will she enjoy doing at school? Who will her best friend be by the time she is in year four? What about dance or song or art? Where will life take her and what has nature gifted her? Will her hair get darker as she gets older? What will she look like on her wedding day? Will she go to University?
Thousands of questions her parents had and were looking forwards to finding out the answers within the fullness of time. They had that right to find out the answers to those questions, like any set of parents.
One day in the time of March’s rule, a selfish, vile coward got behind the wheel of a stolen car and put his foot down. He careened along Prescot Road in St Helens. Showing off to his mates who were also in the car. He probably thought he was indestructible. He probably thought he was above the law. He probably thought he was sick, cool and carefree. No one could beat him, not his family, not his mates, not the Police….
He forget he had a mother. He forgot about everything and everyone, apart from himself.
Then he lost control. Then, during his monstrous joyride, he ended a precious, beautiful, irreplaceable little girls life.
He ran over her and her grandmother and then did what all filthy, atrocious cowards do: he ran off.
He sought to protect his own disgusting hide – within hours he would be flying out of the UK whilst Merseyside Police searched for him and his equally cowardly mates.
He fled, rather than face up to what he had done. His deluded sense of invincibility destroyed forever – that dent to his pride mattered more than the two innocent human beings he had harmed.
March cried when she lost Violet. She sobbed tears of rain as she handed little Violet over to April.
April, like her sister March, had lost too many innocent lives to even count anymore, but she always tried to do her best to offer warmer, brighter days for those who had lost their precious children.
As April watched the funeral cortege made up of a white carriage and white horses with violet coloured plumes atop their manes, she calmed the wind and asked the sun to shine brighter. Little Violet Youens deserved only the best.
Violet’s devastated parents slid out her brightly coloured, Troll themed coffin from the carriage and made their way to the church door. Here, Violet received her first blessing.
It was the start of the last rite of passage in the Catholic faith – one she should not have had to receive for at least another 80 years.
In those moments and the ones leading up to them, Violet’s parents had thought they were broken enough, however, seeing your child’s coffin breaks people in ways they never knew they could break.
The horror, the desperate, keening pain of carrying that tiny coffin into a funeral is something that will never stop hurting. It is the image you beat yourself up with for the rest of your life. It will be there, ten years from now, the bogey man in the shadows of their minds, jumping out at them from nowhere and without warning. The tears will never dry and their shattered heart will never heal.
The loss of a child is too deep a hurt to heal.
The songs played within that Eccleston church, were from Violet’s favourite films: songs from the recent Trolls movie, Labyrinth and Frozen.
Children’s songs in the most juxtaposed place: a funeral mass.
April stood back, feeling helpless. She couldn’t do more than she had, but she felt restless, as though she knew that there was more to do, but she was unable to help. Looking over the devastating scene, she knew that her month would always mean painful memories for all in attendance that day.
April in many ways envied humanity. Thousands of people around the country and indeed, the world, who had been touched by the tragic loss of precious Violet-Grace were expressing their collective grief and outrage. But they could be heard, whereas April had to be subtle. They could donate to help the family not have to worry about bills whilst they grieved – April could only ask the flowers to open.
One thing they did have in common though: they were united in pain and a united sense of devastation.
Baby violet, a tiny angel of just four years, was celebrated and mourned on April’s 18th day. April wished dearly that she didn’t have to welcome tiny Violet into the sky to live with her, her sister months and all of the angels, but she did.
Heaven is a place for precious, perfect souls like Violet and my own two daughters who went there themselves ten years ago.
I wish nothing but warmer, brighter days ahead for the Youens and for everyone affected by tiny Violet’s loss.
As a fellow grieving parent, all I can say is that Violet isn’t in that coffin – she is with her mother and father. She now watches over her little brother. She is with the three of them always.
From a mother’s perspective, all I can say to Rebecca, Violet’s Mum, is that you may have stopped carrying her on your hip or in your womb, however, you now carry her – safe and warm and protected – forever – in your heart. It might not feel like that right now, but I promise you, that is where she is.
Rest in the peace and light of heaven, little wing. I have asked my two little girls to find you and give you a big, warm, welcoming hug.
God love, bless and keep you, your parents and your little brother you darling, precious little girl. My heart aches for you all.
Photo Credit: Facebook/ Glenn Youens