Ali and Jack- Forever in our Hearts

The Phelan Family

12 years on...

This year it has been 12 years since we lost our beloved Ali. 25th June 2013 would have been her 20Th birthday. In one way it feels like yesterday, but in another it seems like a lifetime. The Alison sized hole left in our hearts is still so raw. However, our lives have continued to move forward and life goes on. This is one of the hardest things to understand after you lose a child. Our Ali was such a massive part of our family that nothing now feels completely normal!

Our new ‘normal’ moves on and our pride in Ali’s precious brothers has kept us going. We now have a different dog an absolute joy called Freddie who replaced our lovely old faithful Arthur. Over the years we have often been asked about Ali’s cat Daisy, well she’s happy and still thriving as is Lucky and our new addition, albeit 10 years ago, the devil cat that is Muppet!

We are blessed with two fantastic sons, who have kept our lives worth living. We could never express enough, the pride and joy that they have given us and continue to do so. They have defied the sadness and loss in their early lives by making something of themselves. They often talk about the sister that still plays a massive part in their hearts and they have now become a bigger part of Ali’s Dream.They both have amazing drive and ambition and have always strived to do their best. This is one of the hardest things that we have to bear; that during all the important milestones of our lives there is always someone missing, creating that loneliness that nothing or no one can fill. We have learnt to accept that this will be with us for the rest of our lives.

We have enjoyed so many celebrations over the last twelve years 18th and 21st birthdays of both Matthew and Graham, our 25th wedding anniversary and both of ‘Ali’s boys’, as she always called them, going to university and doing so well that we have wanted to burst with pride! Alison’s beloved grandparents have all celebrated their 80th birthdays and are still going strong, and we now have a great niece. We also shared in the joy of Ali’s Nurse Harry getting married and the birth of her adorable girls. These are just an example of so much that has happened and we know Ali was with us all the way, we feel her around us and think of her and miss her always.

What would she be doing now? The question we constantly ask ourselves. She was such a wonderful little girl, who loved life and was always involved, being at the centre of the laughs, the excitement and a major part of our universe. She loved her family and extended family especially ‘her’ Ashley, and her other cousins. A family that never, feels complete to us any more. We are left wondering what might have been...

We know how Ali would have loved the achievements of Ali’s Dream and the work that it has allowed to happen. The ‘Alison Phelan’ lab in Portsmouth that is named after her, would have caused wonderment and pride, we often think when we are tired with exhaustion from fundraising that she must be  looking on in amazement, she would probably think we are mad!

The Phelan and Hinton families couldn’t have achieved the success we have through Ali’s Dream without the support of our wonderful friends and the people we have met along the way.We are so grateful to all the supporters who have helped us to raise an amazing amount of money, including all those at our children’s school, St Josephs; the staff and parents there continue to be a major source of fundraising. Their support, along with everyone else who has helped us and continues to support us, has enabled us to continue totry andfind a cure for this dreadful illness and this is OUR ALI’S DREAM! A massive thank you to anyone who has assisted us in a big way or small, you are all invaluable to us.

To everyone out there who has travelled the desperate journey of losing a child, stay strong and treasure the memories, you will never get over your loss but will learn to live your new ‘normal life’.

Julie and Gary Phelan

Alison’s Mummy and Daddy 


The D'Lima Family 

8 years on…

When we lost Jack in 2004 I wondered how we’d ever go on. It was for Jack’s two brothers – supporting them, helping them cope with their grief - that was all that kept us going.  The early days were a black fog that spiralled around us.  Every day was a mountain to climb without our precious boy.  He had been the centre of our universe for so long that adjusting to life without him was excruciating.  Simple things like setting the table – 8 years on I often still automatically set 5 places then realise with a dull thud in my stomach that we are now only 4.

When you lose someone and people tell you that time heals they have clearly not experienced such loss.  Time does not heal – I would not want it too – it simply brings a kind of acceptance.  Almost a sense of calm; less anger and more memories.

Only recently was I able to watch a video of Jack in Florida which brought back happy memories – before now the thought of hearing his voice, seeing him so happy, would have been like a knife twisting in an old wound.  I watched it with Charlie, my youngest son, who talks about Jack daily and misses him as much as ever.  His big brother, his best friend.

People’s lives move on – they have to and we cannot resent them their future and their happiness.  However painful it is to watch Jack’s peer group move on – going to ‘big’ school, leaving school, getting ready for university.  New babies are born into the family – yet they will never experience Jacks’ overwhelming love, his infectious laugh and heart-warming hugs.

Our lives have moved on too.  Our eldest son went off to uni – letting him go was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  Fighting the urge to lock him in his room where I could protect him from the world was overwhelming!  Letting go is probably the hardest thing because our children are so very precious to us.But they must live their own lives however difficult it is for us to accept.

Jack brought so much love to our family and eight years on his love still surrounds us, encompassing us and keeping us strong and together.  So although we miss him as much as ever, he is with us in all we do and say and always will be.

Ali's Dream needs your help in the fight against childhood brain tumors by way of donation. If you would like to help us in this fight, please click on the button below and donate using Just Giving.

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