Sunday 1 July 2012

A bitter sweet weekend, all in all...

Everyone was pleased to see Ben at Prize Day, the Leavers' Ball and the Leavers' Service and Lunch today. At one point there seemed to be a constant trickle of staff coming over to me to say how pleased they were that Ben was there. One girl have him a massive hug outside the chapel after the service this lunchtime, tears in her eyes.

I would say that seventy per cent of the time Ben was back in the bosom of his friendship circle. Not right at the heart, often on the edge of the circle, but at least he was there - and they were glad to see him.

Occasionally, and especially at Prize Day, Ben kept a bit of a distance. But never forget all these school activities over the course of one weekend were a big challenge for him. He rose to the challenge; he even did the 'conga' snaking round the marquee last night after dinner, huge smile on his face, then took the microphone to sing the ending of 'Love Train'.

Oh, and he had no problems with eating his dinner, or the leavers' lunch today.

The 'bitter' part was the usual feelings I get when I'm reminded of how the anorexia robbed Ben of everything that was good about his school and social career. After four years of going from strength to strength on every front - academically, confidence, self-esteem and socially - the anorexia swooped in and switched the engines into reverse.

So while his peers carried on through their final three years at school and continued their journey into adulthood, Ben stood still. Not only was he on 'Planet Zorg' for nearly three years but the starvation has left him looking much younger and slighter than everyone else. Hopefully he will catch up.

So there was bound to be a large element of 'what could have been / should have been' this weekend.

But we have experienced other aspects of the school which we would never have done if it wasn't for the eating disorder: the superb pastoral support and friendship of many staff members, notably S, the school nurse, who I've hugged goodbye several times these last few days.

Well it won't really be goodbye, because I'll be keeping in touch with her. She is an amazing, lovely woman and someone I don't want to lose as a friend.

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