Inspirational people by Sarah, aged nine

This is a blog post written in March this year. I wanted to share it here as what Sarah wrote continues to mean a lot to me.

I've not written about my husband's illness. I haven't considered this deeply private anguish to be anyone else's business and I don't want to say anything to add to the distress of my closest family, most of all, our beautiful daughters. 

Now I am in shock again. A turn of events last week has been particularly harrowing and a subsequent hospital stay traumatic. I can't find the right words to say what's up. My body and mind is still absorbing this latest news. Alone in my car, I have screamed as loud as I can, or I may offer up a silent scream as my face stings with more tears. I try to let the pain out. It's not enough. 

I've been happy sometimes to share good news -- like when a treatment we were warned had meagre chance of working evoked a 'remarkable' effect.  Or when, after spending more than a month not being allowed to move and having a cumbersome corset brace fitted to support his back, Neil was walking down the aisle - no brace, no frame, no stick. A fortnight earlier he couldn't manage a single step. If friends contact me online to ask how we are doing, I may offer a snippet of news, but I haven't said much.

Yet this week also brought great cause for celebration. Neil's birthday was a wonderful day where our house was filled with friends, family and laughter.

Among the cards, my sister-in-law Helen sent us some homework by our niece Sarah as she thought we may enjoy it. I was so touched by what it said, I wanted to share it here.   

Inspirational people by Sarah 

Why are they inspirational to me?

This week's homework is about inspirational people. I have chosen to write about my Uncle Neil. He is inspirational to me because over Christmas and New Year, he organised a big celebration to show his love for his friends and family, even though he has been seriously ill and has been in and out of hospital.

Neil is my dad's brother and he lives near Birmingham with his partner and two daughters, Emily and Melissa (our cousins.)
In November last year, Neil was diagnosed with cancer. He was then immediately taken to hospital and stayed there for a number of months. Each time his family came to visit him he remained positive and planned the family wedding celebration in the new year. You would never hear him feeling sorry for himself or complain.
At the wedding, Uncle Neil was amazingly brave and was forever smiling. Obviously he was in a lot of pain but he didn't make a fuss because he knew it was everybody's special day, especially his wife and children. Neil needs a brace because he is so ill but he didn't wear it at all throughout the day. Uncle Neil was feeling very tired but he managed to make an excellent speech and made sure everyone was having a great day too. 

What work do they do?

At the age of 18, Uncle Neil went to Canterbury University and studied journalism for three years. Four years on, at the age of 22, he worked for the BBC and various other newspapers, before going into business with his wife. Unfortunately now Neil is unable to work due to his illness.

How do their lives truly reflect on the teachings of Jesus?

Despite his illness, Uncle Neil is a kind, caring and loving father and husband. He is determined to overcome his illness with good humour and optimism for the future. He always puts other people before himself and shows great courage in the face of his pain. This is how Jesus would want people to live.

How can I be more like them?

To be more like my Uncle Neil, I should stop taking simple things for granted. I have a lot of things to be thankful for like: good health, a loving family and caring friends. I should be more thankful towards them because some people in this world don't have these things.

I've added some comments below from the first time this was published as they make me smile.


  1. What an amazing little girl to have realised so early in life just what life is all about. You guys have been in my thoughts since you shared your news and I wish I could offer more. Pip

  2. Oh Linda, that made me cry. What a very special and insightful niece you have. I really can't imagine what you are all going through. A few people kindly told me throughout my caaaancer 'journey' that I was 'brave' and 'inspirational', but I never, for one second, felt brave, or like I was inspiring anyone. You just get on with it, day by day, and sometimes scream in the car when it all gets too much. You are in my thoughts a lot. Sending you a massive hug. xxx

  3. She's a super smart girl isn't she? Very best wished to Neil - he certainly does sound inspirational.

  4. What an amazing niece you have. She sounds so mature and together. All your family are in my thoughts, Linda. I think the language around illness and particularly cancer is hard to take for those of us who are facing it or living through a loved one living through it. People mean well but I still get annoyed when people talk about 'fights' and bravery. I do hope this coming week will be better than last.

  5. beautiful.. all my love to you all xxx

  6. amazing piece of writing from one so young x

  7. oh bless her - and all of you. How wonderful. Just got to grab at the good, and this is good, that is there in the direst of situations. I so hope good news comes your way again soon, Linda XX

  8. What wonderful writing. And beautiful sentiment too x

  9. Fabulously well written and very insightful. I bet this stopped her teacher in his/her tracks. I'm glad you have such terrific people around you Linda.

  10. Oh this made me cry. So inspirational but so true. If losing Livvy taught me anything it was the gift of life,how we should take each day and make it count. I also believe Neil is inspirational and I pray and send so much love to you all.

  11. Wow what a wonderful piece and such a lovely little girl. It makes you realise just how much people can inspire and touch childrens lives All my thoughts go to you all and especially Neil