Today, we are surrounding Lockey, as he has been surrounded by you throughout the battles of the past 3 years, a she has been surrounded all his life. But you too, are surrounded by him, the sense of him, his loves, his cares, his inspirations.
Music is central to Laughlin. He loves classical music, pop music, playing rock guitar on the Wii, singing, break dancing. He has 'special' day and night time sleeping albums that have been played, without fail, everyday of his life. You have heard some of them today. Almost every nurse said they loved coming into his hospital room because there was always the right atmosphere, whether that be peaceful, energized or creative. The music definitely helped, but at the heart of it was Laughlin.
I will miss that heart.
He is proud of his Celtic name. He identifies with Vikings. He has many, many hoards of precious objects, sorted and stored in little wooden boxes under his bed. One of his favourite games to play was Hadrian's Wall - he was always the Wild Scotsman, madly attacking my Roman wall of cushions, pillows, and mattresses that spanned his room.
I will miss my sword fighting injuries.
Lockey is an archaeologist. He dug into the depths of things, into the Dengie mud, into sandy beaches, into the truth. Into us. When he had his first intrusive medical procedure, brain surgery, we kissed him as he went to sleep and said, 'Think happy thoughts, and you can fly.' When he woke, 8hours later, the first thing he said was, 'Mummy, Daddy, I thought happy thoughts!'
I will miss the depth of those thoughts.
He is a sculptor. He loved, from a young age, to be Making Things. Three-dimensional objects, to be seen from a different perspective, in light and shade. But more than that, he is an emotional artist. On Fathers Day this he burst into tears. I gave him a cuddle and asked him what was wrong. As he hugged me he said, 'There's nothing wrong. It's just that I'm so happy for you that it's Fathers Day.'
I will miss all that he makes.
Laughlin is a leader. While he tended to retreat to his internal place, when he chose to he could organise, create and inspire. Whether it be with playground games, dressing up, or party themes - the last few including Pirates, Pharaohs, Star Wars and Hogwarts - he had big ideas, clear plans and specific roles for everyone. No matter what time of year it was, if he was feeling bored during the long trips to and from hospital, you were sure to hear him ask,' Daddy, can we go through the plans for my next party...'
I will miss being his sidekick.
Lockey is a collector. A collector of artefacts. A collector of Lego. A collector of hearts.
I will treasure his collections.
The singer of some of his favourite music wrote this in one of her albums:
'There are those in our midst who light a flame reminding us of the choices we make that effect not only our own lives, but the lives of the people around us....They keep their torches burning in the dark, so we won't forget to guard our own spark of light hidden in all of us.'
Two weeks ago, while labouring for breath, he suddenly piped up and said, 'I know what we should do - why don't we write what we are all feeling in the book?' The only book was the one I had been reading to him - Sam Silver, Undercover Pirate, and the Treasure Map. 'Daddy,' he said, 'you write, and I will sing.'
And so we did. We created together. That evening he asked to have it read to him again, and again, and again. To affirm who he was, is. Here is a little of what we made together:
"Laughlin has been a very brave boy today. He has been finding it hard to get his breath, so the nurses have given him a mask that blows fresh air. It has helped, but it has made chin itchy. If he does not take big enough breaths a machine beeps to remind him. He has been singing a lot of songs today - new songs that he has been making up. The first one was a Star Wars one. The songs can go on for a long time. Some parts are very emotional and loud and they trick everyone because they think he is upset. He has also made one up about Love. Sometimes singing the songs makes his breathing better.
He has spent a lot of this week choosing presents for Gus and his friends. Today he wanted to look for miniature models on the internet to go in the Unlock Boxes for older boys like him.
He wanted us to write in this book, to write down what we are feeling. He keeps interrupting his singing to ask - Daddy, are you still writing? He wants to get the book finished. He wants to get Gus's Star Wars colouring finished for tomorrow. It is a Get Well card, as Gus was feeling sick earlier this week.
He has been very cuddly today, which is wonderful as his cuddles are the best thing in the world. He has also needed his back rubbed quite a lot as it has been a bit sore. His leg is a lot better now though and he has been able to walk a little bit. He is missing Vader and Gus a lot, though he will see Gus tomorrow.
He is always thinking about other people, and wants to make sure they are OK. He got a bit worried when we were watching The Hobbit, that his Mummy might find the monsters a bit scary. But she didn't because Laughlin was there beside her, to hold her hand.
He hasn't felt like doing Lego so much recently, although he did do a little bit again today. He has made a giant sunflower out of wee bottles which is hanging from the ceiling - it is the first thing he sees when he wakes.
Laughlin always liked the bad guys the best. He thinks they are the coolest and most interesting. They have the coolest armour and weapons. Some of them can be a bit scary, but that is also what he likes about them.
He also likes lots of old civilizations, and in the things that they used to make very interesting- that is why he likes archaeology so much. He enjoys searching for old things, and trying to work out what they were used for and who used to live there.
Lots of people have come in today and said he is a fighter. Some of his songs sound like Battle songs."
Laughlin lived on hope... on faith... on love. These filled his heart, and gave him courage. Despite 3 years of treatment, chemo poison, radiation, tubes in and out of his body, losing some of his hearing, his sight, his balance, his strength - despite everything, he remained full of love. He had an open heart. Gus came home from school this week with an award for Compassion, for helping his teacher tidy up as she has a bad back. Obviously a Whiteley brother trait.
Lockey was quietly confident about who he was, and what he liked. He was kind, thoughtful, curious and good humoured - well, in the main, as his nickname was Laughnessmonsta, not Saint Lockey. He always protected, he always trusted, he always hoped. He always, always persevered.
Despite us all being here, he did not fail. He fought, and fought, and fought. He beat all the things the doctors thought he could not overcome. In truth, the thing that took him from us was the brain tumour - everything else stemmed from that, the effects of treatment, the secondary cancer, the relapse, the side-effects of transplant. When he wrote his autobiography with his hospital teacher, he said the two things he doesn't like are roast dinners and being left behind. He has now gone on ahead.
Laughlin, Andrea, Gus and I have lived on hope for the past 3 years. We have maintained our faith through thick and thin - the faith of living in the moment and choosing not to be terrorised by the risks, the what if's, the statistics.
But now we are all here. Our hope may feel dimmed. Our faith may feel misplaced. But love, love remains. Constant. Always. Forever.
We love you Laughlin. Always and Forever.