The boy was born in December 2003. He died on 30 September 2007. He had a brain tumour which eventually got the better of him. In that time he had three lots of neurosurgery. He had three rounds of chemotherapy lasting a total of eleven months. He had six weeks of radiotherapy. He spent almost a year of his life in one of three hospitals. He had a trachaeostomy, a gastrostomy and a central line. But to think of the boy in terms of his tumour, his medical needs or a tragicly short life is to miss the point.
The boy never saw himself as defined by his illness. If you asked him he would say he'd had a great life. He saw life as a game and an adventure with new experiences to enjoy. One in which Mummy and Daddy were always with him. No mother could have done more to make him feel loved and special and in turn he loved Mama. Hospital was not something to be feared but an adventure to be enjoyed. A home from home holiday camp. There were ambulances to be found and touched. There were doctors and nurses to be waved at and hugged.
And there were those who would take him to hospital in their red or blue cars to meet. Hospice people who would come and play. Carers to come during the day. And after his bath, waiting on the top of the stairs for the night nurses. He always wanted to help them wash their hands and play night time games. At home there were the neighbours to wave at or the special thrill of playing over the fence. There were always a whole range of new people to meet who would make him feel special.
He loved nurses, ambulances, buses, pigeons, trains and pandas. The boy also had his own interests. He loved to cook and paint.
He couldn't eat. But this never bothered him. His great pleasure was to cook. Cooking inspired him as a creative pleasure. He could spend hours making recipe after recipe. Pretend cooking was always a poor substitute for the real thing.
As for painting, he loved colours to be mixed before he could start. Each colour had its rightful place on his palette. And he had a favourite colour - yellow. His painting was precise and delicate. And he always wanted to show me what he had done when I came home from work.
But he also loved pandas. He had his own pandas - baby panda and little panda. Little panda always came with him to hospital and had his own central line. Lawrence loved to play nurse and get everything ready to change little panda's dressing and bung. He knew everything that was required to prepare and how a dressing change should be done. He had paid attention when the community nurses did it. He had a good bedside manner and made sure little panda wasn't scared when it was happening, saying "good boy. Good boy" to reassure him. Little panda is with him now.
And of course there were auntie's pandas - big panda and chi chi, his favourite. No trip to auntie was complete without each panda being carefully kissed on both cheeks when it was time to leave.
He was a boy who circumstance had made mature beyond his years. He didn't waste time feeling sorry for himself. He was a beautiful boy, with a warm smile and an ever-positive cheery nature. He didn't see himself as brave, he just just got on with his life.
The boy didn't discriminate. He was sociable. He wanted to be your friend. Friends, family and medical staff were all the same to him. It was whether they would engage with him that was important. Whether they would take time to play. The boy was very inclusive. Always asking visitors if they wanted tea or coffee. And then toddling off to make it. If one person got a hug everyone got a hug.
He would always ask us "what's next?". I don't know what's next for him but I hope he's still having fun and giving pleasure to others with his zest for life and his generous spirit. He will now probably be on a train with all the pandas. Or he will be mixing colours in his palette to paint rainbows in the sky.
His warmth and generosity left a deep impression on people's hearts. We had such a short time with him and we deeply deeply wish he were with us now. But he isn't. So we will have to rely on those precious memories he has left with us and with others.
Finally, saying goodbye was very important to the boy. No-one could leave his hospital cubicle or leave the house without him waving them off. He got very cross if he didn't get to say goodbye. He can't say goodbye to you now but I am sure he would want us to say thank you for coming, to wave you goodbye and as he would say don't worry. Don't be sad.