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16 October 2014

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Castle on a Cloud

By Gaynor Clifford
May 2002, Neath
A digital story from Capture Wales

Christopher's Castle

Gaynor Clifford remembers a conversation she had about heaven with her 12-year-old son Christopher.

"What do you think heaven is Mam?" asked my ten year old Christopher. I felt uncomfortable with this question but he was entitled to an answer.
"Well" I answered carefully, "That's a question that no-one in the world knows the answer to."

"Well I do. It's whatever you want it to be." he said thoughtfully. "It's your most favourite place on Earth or the most happiest time of your life - you will live there forever, safe and happy"
"That's a lovely idea Chris. I hope you're right" I said.

I tried to change the subject but Chris sensed this and carried on to say that his particular heaven would be Disneyland in Florida. I smiled.

"Where would you choose Mam?" he asked.
"I don't really know Chris. Why do you ask?".
He gazed up at me and replied, "Come on Mam, I need to know about heaven. I maybe going there soon." I swallowed hard and fought back the tears. I forced a smile and told him that he must be positive.

"But I am being positive Mam" he said. He was dealing with his illness far more maturely than us grown ups.

Chris died peacefully from cancer on November the 4th, 1997. He taught us how to live... and how to die.

After his death, I found this poem he had written, called 'Castle on a Cloud.'

'This picture is a dream castle up in the clouds with anything you wish at your command.
And there is no such thing as a bad time.
Most people would dream to go there.'

His poem gives me hope.

End music -
'And we all struggle on,
for the sake of each other,
until we all meet again.'

Gaynor Clifford

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Nursery Nurse, and have worked with children of all ages and abilities for over 16 years.
I like to consider myself as a 'young' 42 year old!
I live in Neath, near the town centre and am married with children.

What are you currently doing?
I am currently employed with a private care company, looking after adults and children who have profound physical, intellectual and behavioural difficulties and disabilities.

What story did you have to tell?
My story is about my son Christopher. It is, in a way, a tribute to his bravery and positive outlook when faced with a life threatening disease, cancer, at the age of nine. He passed away, aged 12, and left a huge gaping hole in our family, but not in our hearts.
I chose to tell this particular story because it's about a very meaningful and poignant conversation that we had together during his illness.
Having lost my son, I am comforted by the fact that he was so adamant and positive about what happens to a person when they die.
As I said in my story, his words give me hope.

How did you find the whole digital storytelling workshop experience?
As someone who has always had an interest in video/photography and editing, I found it to be a great learning experience.
It has inspired me and given me the confidence to experiment further and explore the possibilities and capabilities of my own home computer.

Your comments

"Through my daughter - a colleague and friend of John, Chris' father, I have been aware of Chris for a few years already and now understand the impact this young boy has had on the lives of his family and on my own child. We all - no matter how short our time on earth is - leave joy behind us to rejoice in!" Marian Brooke from South Africa.

"I'm Chris' cousin. Although i was a lot younger than christopher when he died, maybe too young to understand properly, as gaynor says he left a huge gape in our family but not our hearts xxx" Lauren Jenkins, Neath, Wales.

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