Gone to live with angels

A well-wisher ruined our lives...

Published by: Jai Breitnauer
Published on: 7 June 2012

As I tried to dish up the fish fingers without burning myself, I poked my head around the door into the lounge. I saw my daughter Caitlyn, eight, was sat bolt upright glaring at my new boyfriend Paul, 20. She wasn't warming to him then....
My baby Kyle, 11 months, was with them, crawling around on the floor.
I'd met Paul a few months before on a night out. He was funny, charming with a cheeky grin - and good looking, too!
We'd taken things slow at first because of Caitlyn and Kyle. I didn't want them getting close to someone else unless I was sure about him myself.
My thoughts were interrupted suddenly by giggles now coming from the lounge.
‘What's going on?' I grinned.
Paul was crouched on the floor near Kyle.
‘He's taught Kyle to walk, Mummy,' Caitlyn laughed. ‘Do it again!'
I watched in awe as he picked Kyle up and put him on his feet.
‘Come on, walk to me,' Paul instructed as Kyle clutched his fingers. He then stumbled, giggling, as he moved across the rug towards him.
‘Fantastic!' I cried.
I wasn't just talking about Kyle's new walking skills - Caitlyn and Paul seemed to be getting on really well. That meant a lot.
Over the next few months, Paul became a regular fixture in our house. After knocking off work as a scaffolder, he'd come over and play with Kyle, or help Caitlyn with her homework.
‘Dada,' Kyle said, grinning up at Paul one night.
‘Oh, really...' he chuckled, nervously looking at me.
‘It's all right,' I smiled, ‘You're the closest he's got to a daddy.'
‘Me, too,' Caitlyn piped up. ‘I'm going to call you Daddy as well.'
As Paul pulled both the kids into his signature bear hug, I suddenly felt so happy.
Paul moved in that October and, the following spring, he took me to Ibiza for my birthday.
‘Are you missing the kids?' Paul asked one night, as we sat in a restaurant.
‘A bit, but they're all right with their nana,' I chuckled.
Just then, a gypsy selling roses came over. Digging a couple of euros out of his pocket, Paul bought one.
‘Fiona, the last year has been the happiest of my life,' he grinned handing it to me. ‘Will you marry me?'
‘Yes!' I screamed, clambering over the table to give him a hug.
Back home, Caitlyn couldn't contain herself when we told her.
‘Can I be a bridesmaid? Can I?!' she gasped, grinning from ear to ear.
I'd never been happier.
Soon, we'd bought our own place. Then a few months on, I felt that familiar sickness I'd only felt twice before...
‘I'm pregnant,' I grinned happily to Paul.
‘That's the best news ever!' he cried, sweeping me into his arms and planting a kiss on my lips. But our excitement didn't last long. Just a few weeks later, I suffered a miscarriage. It hit us both hard, but we put our all into getting over it.
By the summer, we'd not only set a date for our wedding the following year, we'd also agreed to try for another baby. I couldn't believe it when I was pregnant within weeks!
Both Caitlyn and Kyle were so excited about having a brother or a sister and, at our 20-week scan, we found out it was a boy.
‘Can we call him Jared Paul?' Paul grinned. ‘Jared means son of God.'
‘That's a lovely idea,' I smiled.
One day, we dropped the kids off at my nana's, then went to watch the football at a local pub. Celtic were playing, our favourite team.
On the way back from the loo, a voice called my name and a man asked:‘How are you?'
It was James Purves, 29 - all 19st of him. I knew him vaguely from our town.
‘Living the quiet life,' I smiled, rubbing my bulging belly. ‘Me and Paul are having a baby.'
‘Good luck,' he laughed, walking off, and I went back to my seat.
‘What a great game,' Paul grinned when I sat down. ‘Fancy another drink?'
‘Nana's picking me up soon,' I said. ‘I've got to get the kids ready for school tomorrow.'
‘Do you mind if I stay out?' he grinned. ‘It's been a while and some of my mates are in town.'
‘Course not,' I winked, getting up to leave.
Back home, I put Caitlyn and Kyle to bed, then settled down myself. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow, and woke up late next morning. Paul wasn't there, though.
‘Hmm, must have left early for work,' I muttered, trying to brush the tangles out of Caitlyn's hair. I dropped her at school and was just getting Kyle ready for nursery when the phone rang. It was Ailene, 43, Paul's mum.
‘Is Paul there?' she stuttered.
‘No, I haven't seen him since yesterday,' I said, stuffing nappies into Kyle's nursery bag. The phone went silent, then I heard a deep sob.
‘Someone told me something has happened,' she whispered, and I froze. ‘They said Paul has been stabbed...'
Time seemed to stop. My chest felt heavy and my legs weak. Shaking my head, I tried convincing myself that she'd got this wrong. It just couldn't be true. Suddenly, the house seemed really empty.
‘I'm... coming over,' I finally croaked, before hanging up.
I dropped Kyle off with a friend and raced to Paul's parents' house. When I arrived, the living room was full of his family. His mum was on the phone to the police.
‘They said to sit tight, someone is coming over,'
she told me.
Moments later, there was a knock on the door.
‘I'm sorry,' a detective told us. ‘Paul was stabbed through the heart at a flat on the outskirts of the city about 4am. He died at the scene. We suspect James Purves, he's on the run.'
‘W-what?' I croaked, clutching at my heavy baby bump. ‘No!'
I'd spoken to James only yesterday. He'd seen I was pregnant, had wished me
good luck...
Then he'd killed my baby's daddy just hours later.
Feeling sick and dizzy, I sank to the floor.
‘Our baby...'I sobbed, as someone helped me into a chair.
The next few hours passed in a blur. My mum turned up, told me she was going to get Caitlyn from school.
‘Can you tell her?' I wept. ‘I can't do it.'
Caitlyn phoned me later.
‘Mummy, is Daddy really dead?' she whispered.
‘I'm sorry...' I sobbed, breaking down. ‘Do you want to come here?'
‘No, I want to stay at the house, where he was.'
I let her and decided to go home, too. Still, I couldn't bear to tell Kyle - he was only three. He kept asking for Paul though, so eventually I sat him down.
‘He won't be coming home,' I told him gently. ‘He's gone to live with the angels in heaven.'
‘No!' he cried. ‘I want him to live with us!' Sobbing into my arms, his grief was
more than I could bear.
It just seemed so unfair. How on earth could this have happened? What had provoked James into murder?!
I was numb for the next few weeks. My birthday came and went. Paul had always bought cards and presents at the last minute. But then I found a menu he'd written out for a romantic meal he'd been planning to cook - steak with Hollandaise sauce. Instantly, I broke down again.
‘We should be in each other's arms,' I sobbed to myself. ‘Instead, you're in the morgue.'
The police found Purves and charged him. They released Paul's body and I was finally allowed to see him.
I could barely remember the funeral two weeks later. Each day after that passed in a haze. Caitlyn was referred for bereavement counselling, and Kyle was clingy - afraid I'd leave him, too.
Then, on April 24 last year, I began having contractions three weeks early.
‘Mum, it's time,' I whispered down the phone. She picked me up, and Paul's mum met us at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. They held a hand each as I spent the next 27 hours pushing, breathing and sobbing for Paul.
‘I'm going to call him Jared Paul, just like we wanted,' I sniffed, as I stared deep into my baby's beautiful blue eyes.
But just two days later, Jared's stomach was swollen and he had a fever.
‘We're transferring him to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children,' the midwife said. ‘Tests have shown a bowel blockage.' Jared underwent a six-hour operation. For a while, it was touch and go.
‘I've already lost Paul, I can't lose Jared as well,' I sobbed to Mum but, thankfully, the operation was a success.
Later, in intensive care, I covered Jared with a blanket in Celtic colours that read Daddy's Bhoy. That way, a part of Paul was close.
A few weeks later, we were allowed home. Only then, when I was sitting in Jared's room, did I show him photos of his daddy and tell him little stories. When he was strong enough, I took him to Paul's grave.
It hurt so much to think of all the things Paul was going to miss. The birthdays, Christmases, first day at school... we were going to have to go through it all without him.
‘This is the closest you will get to meeting your daddy,' I whispered tearfully to Jared. ‘But he loved you so much.'
In October 2011, six months later, Purves appeared in court. He told a jury how he'd been watching TV when his girlfriend let herself and a large group of people into his flat uninvited.
He claimed the stabbing was self-defence, but witnesses said there wasn't even an argument.
Angry, Purves just grabbed a knife and stabbed the nearest person - Paul.
It tore at my heart hearing that. Paul's killing was pointless.
He got 15 years for culpable homicide. My sentence, though, is for life, and so is Jared's. Caitlyn and Kyle are suffering, too. Caitlyn told her counsellor Paul was her best friend, the person who ‘made everything right'. She's made a memory box for Jared and often talks to Kyle about Paul, trying to keep his memory alive.
Just a few days ago, they were playing in the garden when the grief hit home once more.
‘Look, Mummy,' Caitlyn smiled, showing me some white feathers they'd collected.
‘They're from Daddy's wings,' Kyle grinned.
‘He dropped them so we know he's okay,' Caitlyn nodded.
It was all I could do not to collapse in tears. Because, as much as I know he's looking out for us, Paul should be with us, living his perfect life.
Fiona King, 30, Edinburgh