where there's a will there's a way
I really don't want to sound morbid but I am writing this post because I think this is one of the most important things you should do as a parent and yet often it is something we don't get round to doing because the possibility of needing it seems so unlikely. I am talking about writing your will.
My husband and I have been married for 7 years this coming August and have been together for 13 years. We only wrote our wills a year ago prompted by the most ghastly and heart breaking experience.
In February 2009, when I was 6 months pregnant, two of our best friends (they were brothers as well) decided not to go on the lads ski trip with the other men in our group of friends. One had a 5 month old little boy with his wife and the other's wife was just 10 weeks pregnant and was up to his eyes in building our extension at the time.
They decided instead to go camping on Mount Snowdon, just for the weekend, and were prepared for a very cold and snowy challenge and were excited all the more. They were experienced climbers and had climbed Snowdon before and as I said goodbye to our best friend on the thursday evening, as he was finishing ripping out our old bathroom, I didn't for even a second, think there was anything to worry about.
When he didn't turn up for work on Monday morning I thought he must have over slept or his van had broken down. I rang his mobile a couple of times and left a voicemail saying there was a sausage sandwich waiting for him. I had no idea of the horror that was about to unfold when his wife (my best friend) rang back half an hour later.
The boys hadn't come home on Sunday night as expected and there had been no contact from them over night even though their phones were switched on and ringing. As soon as I heard this I raced over to my friend, who was 10 weeks pregnant, and within 10 minutes of arriving at her house, the Search and Rescue phoned to say they had found both the boys at the bottom of a 1000 ft drop.
I never ever hope I have to witness again the heartbreak I saw in my friend in the seconds, minutes, hours and days after that phone call. It makes me burst into tears just recalling those moments.
The boys had encountered dreadful conditions and had slipped down an icy slope and fell. A tragic accident.
I admire my two friends so much for the bravery they have shown in the 3 years since they lost their husbands. The 5 month little boy is now 3 and a half and in May last year was diagnosed with leukaemia following my big boy's birthday party, but has responded to treatment fantastically and is showing remarkable strength. My cousin in law, who is an Oncology Nurse at Bristol Children's hospital, raised an alarm at the party after watching the little boy struggle with the soft play as he complained that his joints were hurting. My friend had been into the GP several times with him but they had not spotted the symptoms that jumped out at the Oncology Nurse who deals with them every day.
My best friend now has a beautiful, thriving, almost 3 year old little boy is who best pals with my big boy.
The girls have been through so much, I don't think anything else could happen to them, that would be too cruel.
Neither of the boys had wills and it made us realise that life is extremely precious and anything can happen and in an instant your world can turn upside down. When you have children it is vital that your wishes for them are set out and that those who would take on that mammoth responsibility fully accept it.
We chose a local company who offer a package for around £100. We made an evening appointment so we could concentrate without children around and had 2 appointments in total. The first to discuss our wishes and the second to go through the draft and sign it.
I had no idea how emotional I would find the process. I was in tears several times when discussing who would bring our children up if the worst should happen. The tradition of that responsibility lying with Godparents is not legally valid and even though there was no hesitation or dispute between us that my sister and her husband would be legal guardians of our children it was gut wrenching having it written down in black and white.
We specifically added my sister's husband as a guardian in the very unlikely event that something happened to both of us, then to my sister a few years later, he would remain their guardian. I couldn't bear the thought that if tragedy struck 3 times, that he would have to go through a process to keep the children in his care.
Whilst it was a painful experience to document our wishes, I know that if we didn't have a will it would cause even greater pain for those left to apply for custody and guardianship at a time of unimaginable sorrow.
I urge everyone to make sure they have a will. Ours our now stored with the company and we pay a minimal annual fee which allows us to update them at any time if our circumstances change.
It gives me great peace of mind to know that my sister and her husband are more than willing to take on the responsibility of our children and that we can now put it to the back of our minds and not worry, now that piece of paper is safely filed away.
We used WTP based in Bath and I would thoroughly recommend them. They were sympathetic and patient and above all had experience to offer advice and guidance.
If you haven't already, please make yours a priority as you just never know what can happen.