The sudden death of my amazing 17 year old son Ibrahim Bash-Taqi (‘Ditto’ to us and ‘Cruzer’ to his Facebook pals) feels like having a rug on which I was standing firmly, pulled suddenly from under my feet.
The pain is sharp and the thudding does not subside.
I had him when I was only 23 years old – straight out of university and I had never been so sure of any decision in my life. I wanted this child.
When he was little he was such a handful. Always rushing, hugging people and going through many pairs of shoes every term. I read up on every behaviour he showed and we tried so many things……from special touch-typing lessons when he had difficulties with handwriting to fancy therapy sessions in the West End.
In retrospect those were actions of a young, inexperienced, anxious mother, who simply wanted the very best for her child. Most of those issues were quite normal and could have been sorted by time with mum. All of it must have paid off because my son developed into the most perfect teenager. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, my Ditto was the centre of my world, my pride, my joy. But he was not only ours (i.e. my husband and me), Ditto was first grandchild to his two grandmothers, first nephew to his aunties and uncles, so he was spoiled rotten. At Christmas we used to spend hours opening his presents. I used to save his presents in the loft allowing him to open two every month and we always had enough presents to last us year round!
Ditto died 2 days after collapsing at his basketball practice on 22nd November 2010. He was taken to Kings College Hospital in London, where he was in ITU. I can so vividly remember those horrible 3 days but I want to remember the 6500 days (roughly) that he was with us, and all the joy he brought us. His cause of death was sudden cardiac death of a morphologically normal heart.
Ditto was in 6th form and had just joined his new school in September before he collapsed in November. He had already made his mark in this school. He was setting up school newspaper; he was part of a Dragons’ Den team with a winning business idea; and helped organise black history month. He had interviewed for the position of Head Boy and was totally excited about what he was learning.
Socially he was popular and he had lots of friends. Those young people have been so active in trying and comfort us and from the stories they share. The extent of the lives he touched continues to amaze me. His Facebook page continues to be a testimony of his relationships as his friends use it to express their loss and love for him.
For me, I set up a memorial website and whenever I remember good times I add it to the site. There’s so much I want to do for my son – I want the world to know how amazing he was and build on his legacy to bring out positive change in the lives of others.
After his funeral so many people said to us how they felt they had got to know him and how his story had inspired them to do more with their lives. I spent so many hours planning that service, hard as it was to do this for my own son, I had to.
From the hundreds of tributes we had from teachers, family members and friends certain words kept creeping up time and time again …gentleman, intelligent, unassuming, sensitive, well read, sensible, kind, sense of humour, caring. That was my son.
Ditto was an avid Arsenal fan and he used to spend hours explaining football management strategies to me. He loved writing rap lyrics. At home, he loved writing pieces and then just reading them again and again to me and his little sister whom he adored. A career in sports journalism was what he was working towards and he also dreamed of being a rapper! I share below the some lyrics from his rap ‘Aston Martin Dreams’.
It’s funny to achieve your dreams
Life takes you through a nightmare
My eyes on the prize
Excuse me if I stare they say image is everything, so I’m trying to cap the right gear
I’m just trying to do it and stay flat – Nike Air
Life’s my Aston Martin – fuelled by my ambition
But I must have broke the brakes because I see no speed limit
Aston Martin Cruzer – go high to the Phoenix!
The sky is the limit – give me a ticket coz I broke it
Success in my mind frame – see the bigger picture
Now my money’s big but my blessings even bigger
Put my heart in the game; my love unconditional
Defintion of Swag – I’m a Swaggasorus
but ain’t nobody like me so I ain’t in that Thesaurus
I’m the prototype for greatness – feel free to take notes
Success 101 – I’m the model student
They say Cruzer don’t let the change change you
Upgrade the life but let your morals stay true
My heart is broken, but with the help and understanding of so many, I am picking up the pieces slowly to create a new mosaic in which my Dit is an integral part, and where my beautiful 8 year old daughter, who works so hard to comfort me, gets the love and attention she deserves.
I love you Dit.
We are in our early days of interaction with CRY but so far just finding the website and reading the stories of other mothers has been such a source of comfort. When I read the stories, I began to recognise for the first time other women who know exactly how you feel. I have read the stories so much I feel like I know each of the remarkable young people described. So that’s why I wrote my story. I hope it brings comfort and maybe even a smile to another devastated mum who reads it.