Martha’s story: why EACH matters to me

Martha's story why EACH matters to me - Just Recruitment

Just Recruitment director Peter Foy has a very personal reason for supporting EACH. He shares it here

By Peter Foy

I have already written elsewhere on these pages about why Just Recruitment is committed to supporting East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.

This article is different. This is my personal account of why I support this charity and why I have used my influence to persuade colleagues at Just Recruitment to do the same.

    This is my personal account of why I support this charity and why I have used my influence to persuade colleagues at Just Recruitment to do the same.  

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Peter Foy. A director of Just Recruitment Group Ltd, an ordained minister in the Church of England and a regular guy. It’s in that last category that I write this piece.

The story begins with Martha.

I knew Martha from the moment I became aware of people. She is in my earliest memories. She held me when I cried. She wiped my eyes, my nose and other orifices as necessary. She loved me.

Martha was a fixture in my life as long as I was aware that I had a life.

As I grew so my relationship with Martha grew. By the time I went to university, about which she was pleased as punch, we were friends. Unequal friends in many ways but friends.

In my second year at uni I came home for a long weekend. Martha and her husband, Martin, were at my family home. I had been out with friends and had a drink or two. When I arrived home Martha was sitting up. Waiting, caring.

She made me a coffee and a toasted sandwich. I remember it clearly: when I think of it, I can still taste the cheese! That’s when she told me the story.

Towards the end of the Second World War, Martha and Martin married and had a baby daughter, Christine. The child fell ill and doctors were called, but this was before the NHS so medical care cost money.

Christine died.

She died at home.

In her mother’s arms.

Mother and baby alone.

Martha told me of the moment she realised her daughter was dead.

All she could do was hold her. To sit and nurse her.

Afternoon turned to evening. Evening to night.

She sat, alone, and nursed her dead daughter.

A young woman. An infant. The dark.

“All I could do was hold her.”

All I could do was weep.

When Martin returned home, he found it in complete darkness. A wife nursing a corpse.

Long after Martha told me her story Martin told me his version. The one abiding memory was of his wife holding a china doll and weeping.

“Weeping torrents.”

As I spoke to Martha, she said a strange thing.

“After the death of your child, there is no other death.”

She loved poetry and I wondered if she had Dylan Thomas in mind:

“After the first death, there is no other”.

    I am determined that women like Martha and men like Martin do not have to weep in the darkness but have the support of a loving community,...  

So, let’s have a scene change. Camera zoom to my recent tour of The Treehouse, EACH’s Ipswich hospice. The guide takes us through the residential wing, explains how the four rooms can be converted into a contiguous apartment, providing accommodation for a family: parents, siblings and patient.

We come to the final room. Exactly the same as the others; bed, chairs and so on. But there is one important difference. This is the room for end of life care. When a child dies this room can be refrigerated to become a morgue.

It allows the child to stay in situ. To relieve the pain of the parents and family. To help them cope, giving them a chance to say goodbye.

Reading those last two paragraphs might upset you. Well, it is upsetting: every parent’s worst nightmare.

“After the first death, there is no other.”

All I can say is that I wish that there had been a hospice that upset sensibilities for Martha.

A few years ago, I had the enormous privilege of presiding at Martha’s funeral. We said farewell to an amazing woman. I am determined that women like Martha and men like Martin do not have to weep in the darkness but have the support of a loving community, helping them cope with the most painful moment of all.

And that is why I support EACH.

Published: 17 October 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Just Recruitment is sponsoring EACH’s “Happy Christmas Ipswich” comedy evening, hosted by Griff Rhys Jones. To support the event or donate to EACH, please click here.

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Where the light shines in

You may also enjoy: Everything you need to know about “Happy Christmas Ipswich”. An evening with Griff Rhys Jones & Friends in aid of EACH


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