Charlotte was born on 10 October 2008, her parents’ first child. The birth was normal and she was a good weight, but there were concerns because she was slow to feed and experienced fast breathing. She was transferred to a specialist baby unit. Over the coming weeks there were many tests. Eventually it was established that Charlotte suffered from Zellweger’s syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the brain, liver and kidneys. Her parents were told that she would probably live for only 6 months. She would live to Christmas, but probably not to her first birthday.
The diagnosis was a great shock to her parents and also to the whole family. Her Mum and Dad took her home and tried to take in the implications of Charlotte’s condition. The hopes and plans they had made would not now be fulfilled. They needed space to think things through and to pray to the Lord for his help and strength. As they prayed, and spoke to their family and close friends, the way forward became clearer.
They realised that Charlotte was a unique human being with the capacity to give and receive love. In the womb God had watched over her and preserved her life and she was precious to him. Each day God would give her Mum and Dad the strength and grace they needed. So they learned how to cope with Charlotte’s particular needs and to cope with the daily routine of caring.
Charlotte’s Mum and Dad surrounded her with love and communicated that love to her through their total commitment to her care and frequent cuddles. Charlotte could not speak or apparently understand much of what she heard, but she knew that she was deeply loved. There were times of crisis, but Charlotte saw her first and her second birthday and plans were beginning to be made for when she would go to nursery school. Then towards the end of May she began to experience serious problems and died peacefully on 31 May 2011.
At the service of thanksgiving for her life, attended by family and many friends, there was a spirit of heartfelt thankfulness to God for his goodness to Charlotte and to her Mum and Dad. They know that Charlotte is now safe in the arms of Jesus and all is well. They wrote to their friends, “Please pray for us now and for our family. Times of peace, relief, strength, grief and sorrow all mixed together.”