I started working for the Meningitis Trust in July 2011 as Creative Media Apprentice. Everyone was extremely warm and welcoming to the Trust and up until then in my life I had never had an experience or (to be honest) much knowledge of meningitis, but I loved working here and with the people at the Trust. I became a full-time Junior Designer in July 2012 and it's the best job I have had yet.
My brother and his partner were told they wouldn’t be able to have children, but by some miracle in November 2011, they were blessed with a loving baby boy, Corey, which our family proudly named ‘our miracle baby.’ We all thought he was a special gift to my brother and his partner and that it was unlikely to happen again. However, life had other plans and in January 2012 they announced they were pregnant again, a month later we found out that it would be twins and then at 20 weeks that it would be 2 little girls ... now the significance of this was I was the only girl out of five children so it was very special to not only be having one but two little girls coming into our family.
For seven months I boasted about my baby nieces and how they were going to be perfect and be my little mini-mes as I was the only girl.
With twins, it is said that going full term in pregnancy, is very uncommon, so at seven months in August 2012 both of my nieces Gracie and Neave Gardener were brought into this world at very tiny sizes, Neave being the smaller one. They both had to stay in hospital for a couple weeks so they could develop a little more.
Two weeks later they were allowed home and as soon as I knew that I was visiting them for cuddles and kisses.
They were home for three weeks, until I received a text from my dad on October 2nd saying Neave had been taken into hospital with an infection but she should be out the next morning. Unfortunately later that evening my brother rang to inform me that she had contracted meningitis at the age of six weeks old.
The next day I went to work at the Trust, my mind was riddled with questions about the whole situation, why would it happen to Neave? How could it have happened to her? ... I received updated phone calls from my brother every hour or so, every phone call seemed to have worse updates every time, but I wanted to know what was happening.
After that I went down to stay at my brothers on the Tuesday evening, to help look after the other children (my nephew of 10 months and my other niece aged six weeks). My sister-in-law stayed in the hospital for the majority of the next two days, my brother was in and out, visiting home and then back into hospital.
During the Wednesday her condition stayed the same, but on the Thursday we received bad news, the swelling in Neave's brain had damaged the majority of her brain and she was put on to machines to help her breath. Friday her condition remained the same, however we were told it was bacterial meningitis and that there was septicaemia as well.
Saturday, all our hearts were broken when my family received the news that our baby, daughter, niece and granddaughter, wouldn’t be able to breathe on her own anymore, and with that news my brother and his partner decided that it was time.
That day people were saying their heartfelt goodbyes to Neave and later on that evening she passed away into a peaceful sleep.
That Sunday seemed like the worst day ever, I didn’t feel like getting up but I had been babysitting my nephew that whole weekend and I needed to get up, feed him and take him back home to his mummy and daddy.
The next week or so was surreal and impossibly emotional and confusing, I was feeling heartbroken not just for Neave but also my brother and his partner.
A week after was the funeral for her; it was a beautiful ceremony, with sweet music, beautiful flowers and so many loving family members and friends. My brother and his partner were so strong through the whole ceremony.
It is now nearing the end of October, almost a month since it happened and I am still not sure on what to feel or do about the situation.
However this situation has proved to me on how strong my brother and his partner have and how truly inspirational they are to be so strong through times like these, also how close my family really are to help each other through a difficult time like this. It gives my enough comfort to know the Neave was and is still loved more then ever and that love will only keep growing as time goes by.
My other niece Gracie is growing faster then ever, now being about nine weeks old, and my nephew Corey will be one next month and I am just so proud of them both at such a young age.
I would also like to give my thanks and admiration to the Meningitis Trust, for not only given me a chance at a career start, but also for all the support they have given my family and me.
This has been one of the worst times in my life, but if anything from the past few weeks has taught me is that with my family are strong and that the Trust is always here to help through any situation.