“Our nightmare began on 25 March 2018. Our mum came down with a cold and a sore throat. It was just a typical cold.
Me and mum didn’t see each other on a daily basis, but we called each other several times a day, As my sister was in France we spoke more often.
“The weekend of 30 March 2018 me and my daughters went down to mum’s house to have a ‘girly night’. By this point me and mum were both choked up with the cold, but it didn’t stop us making memories – mum was doing the floss with the girls.
“We met up again the day after to meet my sister at the airport and to go for a meal. Then it was back to the normal routine of school run and work for the rest of the week. My sister was only back for two days and then she was going on a girls’ holiday, so me and mum spoke all week, making plans for the weekend, arranging holidays etc.
Just a normal day
Friday 6 April came and it was just a normal day. We all had a group chat, so we were on Facetime. Jessica was making us jealous by showing us the sunshine and the pool. Mum had been at work and said she felt rubbish, but was going to Boots then heading home.
“Nothing went right that day from then on. I normally phoned mum before I started work, but that day I was running late. I waited until my break and tried to call her but there was no answer. I assumed she was at work as she had several jobs. I kept trying to call when I got the chance but still no answer,10pm that night I finished work I called her several times with no answer and that’s when I knew something wasn’t right.
“Me and mum finished at the same time every night and we would always phone each other until we both knew we were in the house safely. I phoned my partner and told him to get him and the girls ready as something wasn’t right with my mum. We went down to her house and I realised I didn’t bring a key, the door was locked and there was no answer.
“I then managed to get in touch with my sister to track her phone, which was showing it was in the house. I thought she had accidently left her phone in the house, which is unusual, so we went down to her work and searched the route she would take home, even stopping the bus driver coming back from Edinburgh to see if she got on the bus at Linlithgow.
We were panicking
“By this point we were panicking. We knew something had happened and my first thoughts were she's in trouble or she's gone missing. We went back home and I found her key. Once back at mum’s house before unlocking the door my heart was racing. I unlocked the door and ran up the stairs shouting for my mum. I could hear the cats meowing. I checked each room while shouting for her and when I found her on the living room floor I checked if she was breathing and phoned 999 straight away.
“I started CPR until the paramedics came, but it was too late to save her. I couldn’t cry I was in so much shock and I didn’t have anyone. It was just me – my sister was a 1,000 miles away and my dad had sadly passed away suddenly 18 months before mum.
“After answering the questions for the paramedics I had to make the dreaded phone call to my sister. As soon as she answered I didn’t have to say the words, she already knew in her heart. I felt so helpless, she was miles away and we both had no one to support us. She is my little sister and she needed me and there was nothing we could do.
“As it was a sudden death the police had to come out. My head and emotions were all over the place. It was horrible getting questioned over my own mum’s death. I then had to wait on the undertaker picking mum up. They promised we would see our mum again so we could both say our goodbyes.
Heart-breaking phone calls
“The next morning we managed to get a flight booked for my sister to come home but that wasn’t until the early hours of Sunday morning. I then had to make all the heart-breaking phone calls to friends and family, who were all shocked and very upset. Finally, after it feeling like days had gone by, I had my sister back with me.
“In the first few days we had a lot of visitors, messages and phone calls. On Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from an advanced health protection nurse. He said that there was a high possibility mum had meningitis. I couldn’t stop shaking, I was so upset and scared, as I was still ill with the same symptoms mum had. The man was asking lots of questions, such as how are we all feeling and who had close contact with mum that week?
“I kept asking him if I was next. Luckily our GP practice was brilliant and had us in straight away, checked us over and gave us an antibiotic to take in case we were carrying the disease. I was still petrified of dying that night and I wrote out my funeral plan and letters to both of my daughters. I couldn’t sleep all night and my anxiety was through the roof. I was waking everyone up every hour to check temperatures and this went on for several weeks. I couldn't settle down, wee things would set me off such as having a necklace on as I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
“It was a horrible experience and it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. In those three weeks we all ended up with the same symptoms and the girls came out in rashes. Luckily the NHS24 and our GP surgery were very understanding and checked us out. A week on from mum’s death we finally got the phone call we had been waiting for from the pathologist. It wasn’t what we suspected, as we were then told it would take up to 12 weeks for results to come back from the post-mortem but it was still possibly meningitis. Because of this we weren't allowed to see mum again, which really hurt as we didn’t get the chance to say what we wanted.
Well loved by everyone
“We were allowed to go ahead with the funeral, which was another stressful time due to finances. Luckily the community of Linlithgow, mum’s work, family and our friends helped us so much by setting up a JustGiving page. We reached our target within 24 hours as mum knew loads of people and made a massive impact on their daily lives. Greggs and the Burgh Halls in Linlithgow supplied food and hall hire free of charge and the help we had was unbelievable. We couldn’t have given our mum the send-off she deserved without their help. Mum was very well known and well loved by everyone she met and she will always be remembered.
“Weeks became months after losing our mum and we finally got the results back to say mum had meningitis streptococcus pneumoniae. We felt some kind of closure from the confirmation. It has been a really difficult couple of years for me, my sister and my daughters, living our lives at such a young age without our parents or grandparents. Now we are trying to rebuild our lives.
“We didn’t find out about Meningitis Now until a few months after mum had died, but they have been a great support. Now all we want to do is raise awareness of this disease. Most people I talk to think it starts with a rash, but that is not the case. Mum didn’t get a rash at all. We would encourage people to learn the symptoms and please get checked if you are in doubt, it could save a life.”