It’s a position that many parents can’t imagine finding themselves in. Carl Gorham is in his early 40s, with a six-year-old child and has to say goodbye to his wife due to cancer. After a ten-year battle with cancer, Carl’s wife Vikki was succumbing to the illness as it spread through her body.
In an article he penned for The Daily Mail, he shares the moment he had to tell his daughter that her mother wasn’t going to make it. He told her as gently as he could and writes “There is another pause. For a second, I see Romy struggle to take it in, the enormity of it, emotions spread-eagled across her face. Then the realisation seems to hit. She puckers up in agony, rushes towards me and flings herself into my arms, crying.
I hold her so tight I can feel her little heart thumping against her rib-cage. ‘I’m sorry, darling. I’m so sorry,’ I say over and over, as she sobs in my arms.”
Six months later he’s surprised when she announces she wants to “make Mummy”. They set about the art project of making Mummy out of cardboard. Cardboard Mummy becomes part of the family and even joins them at dinner.
Then, Carl’s daughter wants to take her out of the house, to parties, and even too school. It’s clear that this is her way of dealing. Carl writes, “And then I look at the other parent and try to communicate with my eyes, the way adults do when there are children around, that it’s OK, really, and it’s not weird — it is, in fact, healthy that my daughter has made a cardboard effigy of her recently dead mother.”
After a while, Cardboard Mummy becomes a fixture at home and Carl’s stores it in the attic where his daughter knows she’s safe. He writes, “Romy doesn’t ask to bring her down at all. However, she likes to know she is safe.
There is no question of getting rid of Cardboard Mummy, of letting that relationship go completely, no matter that she drifts further away from us as the months and years go by.
I can see her living in the attic forever, and if we move, she will definitely come, too. And that feels right. For all of us.”