A friend shared a post on facebook this morning about a little baby. The picture showed the child as she is - perfect, sleeping and seemingly peaceful. if it wasn't for the tube in her nose it could have been any one of countless other pictures of cute little babies, dreaming of heaven and their Mother's arms.
But this little baby isn't safe at home, cradled in the love of her family, she is in the middle of a course of chemotherapy.
I cannot begin to put into words how it feels to be the parent of a baby undergoing this treatment.
No one should have to bear this! No loving, nurturing parent should ever have to give up their child to such suffering!
I know horrors against innocent children go on all over the world - pain, starvation and wars - and all these are down to the madness of mankind, and believe it or not, so is the suffering in this way of a child with cancer.
The child has no voice, no opinion, no way of saying 'Don't hurt me!' The child can only cry.
As a parent you want your child to live! There is no other way. You will do ANYTHING to keep the life in that little scrap of humanity. You don't care what happens, you just have to keep them alive.
But what is asked of you is not normal. It is not acceptable in any sense. It goes against every possible belief and instinct. You are pressurised from society, and your own desperate fears of loss and grief, to collaborate and collude with what happens to your child.
You, as the nurturing, loving parent, stand by while others inflict pain and suffering on your child, and in any other circumstance you would be jailed for abuse. You can dress it up with every reason under the sun, but that is still what is being asked of you. It wounds you forever, and 30 years down the track my wounds have never healed.
As a parent it is like being cut open. It is like being torn to shreds in every waking moment. There is no respite from this hell, no rest, no peace, until the peace of dreams, and even then you are not safe. Every wail, every cry sends acid coursing through your system and the intensity and relentless nature of this experience is enough to drive anyone mad.
It never ends, it goes on and on, and you watch and wait and hope. Your child changes before your eyes, this perfect little being whose skin is so soft and whose eyes are so bright, turns grey and listless. Her breath smells, her baby hair falls into your hands as you stroke her head, she sleeps and cries with the terrors that may well haunt her the rest of her life.
Never doubt it, Hell is a real place.
The twists within this experience are many. They tie you up so tight, you soon don't know what you knew before. It stands you on your head and tells you you're upright. You lose your safe harbours because you know they never existed. The lies become truths and the truths become lies.
What is right? What is wrong?
Sometimes it goes away, sometimes even for years, and then it's back - right here, right now, with the picture of a little baby.