I first met Wesley when he was in the womb.
His mother was a waitress in a restaurant we used to go to. His father absent.
I was also pregnant. Lynne and I became friends.
Around the age of two Wesley was with us nearly daily. He grew up alongside my own first born child, Felix. They went to their first school together. On a neighboring island. An early morning boat ride across the bay, arms around each other, spotting dolphins.
Fifteen years later not much has changed. Just the other day we crossed the same bay, saw a new generation of dolphins and the boys still had their arms around each other.
Yet so much has changed. For Wesley.
In April his mother died. Lost her fight against cancer after a long and painful journey. The Bahamas is not a country where you want to suffer breast cancer. But The Bahamas is a country where I would want to be buried.
The funeral was held in the Church Lynne attended. A pink church, set high on the hill, with a startling view down to the bay, through gently swaying palm trees.
The priest read his sermon from his iPad. Wesley’s Aunt’s howled and flung them selves on their dead sister’s coffin. Wesley sat unmoving, unblinking in his new shiny suit and dark glasses. Cool as a cat.
The gospel band played and we danced and clapped our way down the street, to the graveyard. A stream of black. Hot under the Caribbean sun.
As the coffin was lowered into the ground Wesley broke. He fell crumpled to the ground screaming. His heart breaking.
Very quickly it was decided that Wesley would move in with us. He arrived the next afternoon with a plastic bin liner. It held his worldly possessions. None of them important, except for the few tattered photographs of his Mum.
The weeks that followed were very dark. Wesley was very lost. At night he would sob, silently. I would hold him tightly. Neither of us able to speak. What was there to say? The God he worshiped had let him down.
He returned to school, miserable and confused.
One morning, in class, he had an accident. Only then did I begin to understand how angry he was at life.
And Life is not simple and this is no fairy tale. We don’t know the ending.
I am careful with my own children. I speak to them a lot about Wesley becoming a part of our family. It is an open dialogue.
But I feel blessed and honored that Wesley has chosen us. And although he went through a period of calling me “Mummy” we know I never will be. All I can be, is there for him.
Wesley has spent many Christmases with us in the past. He was with us at the birth of my fourth child. He comes to England with us in the summers and this year his stocking will hang on our chimney and his name is printed proudly on our Christmas card, alongside those of my children. Felix, Amory, Conrad, Domino and Wesley.