Chris Rice

My son Chris died on Monday 26th September 2005 aged 18 years. He was at Hengistbury Head, where he taught sailing and kayaking. He also coached swimming for Bournemouth Dolphins. He loved working with children and was an inspiration to all whose lives he touched. Chris achieved in 18 years what many would not achieve in 80 years.

Chris was a county level swimmer, and was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy at 10 years of age. We were told that there was no cure. They tried Beta-Blockers for a time, but they made Chris very tired and seemed to give him symptoms. Chris was monitored six-monthly at Southampton Hospital, until he was 17 years old. We went every six months, and my lovely placid son would turn into an argumentative monster every time. He used to say, "Its pointless. We all say the same thing every time – is it any better? Any worse? No, see you in six months."

After his last appointment, Chris was informed that he would start to attend the adult clinic because he would be 18 years old. When we left that day, Chris said, "I can make my own decisions now, and I'm not going anymore." Chris was a very strong character and he would not allow anything to alter what he wanted to do. He was fit, he was a vegetarian, very particular about what he put into his body, and never tried to abuse it. As was suggested, he gave up all competitive sport when diagnosed, to reduce the strain on his body. But he lead his life as he wanted, and would never have allowed us to wrap him in cotton wool – and we wouldn't want to change a thing about him.

Since his passing, my life and that of my family has changed dramatically – but most positively. We miss Chris dreadfully, but I know he is all around us, helping us. Two days after Chris died, I found myself in the Spiritualist Church. I didn't know what they believed in, but I haven't look back – it awakened a light in me and made me realise that Chris is just a breath away. I have a new outlook on life, and it feels good.

Obviously I cry. I feel a deep hole in the pit of my stomach at times, because I cannot touch Chris physically – but it passes. Something will happen – the phone will ring, or someone will pop round out of the blue, or a piece of music will come on the radio – and I know it is Chris helping me out. We all have to grieve, but we can stop it turning to despair. Think what we would want for our family if it was us who had passed over. Whilst they were with us here, did we not laugh and have fun doing exciting things? Its not wrong to laugh or enjoy things now – we were privileged to have been able to share the lives of these very special people, and they are still with us.