When it came time for Brad and Mel Cooper to say goodbye to their adored 2 year old son Cody, they knew they wanted him to receive care at the end of his life at Hummingbird House. Cody was born prematurely, with hydrocephalus, spastic quadriplegia and an inoperable brain cyst. He showed himself to be more engaged with his surroundings than first thought. Mel spoke of her quiet amusement when people underestimated her “cheeky little man”. “He could move situations to suit himself. He was very clever like that.”
Their involvement with Hummingbird House started in July 2016 when they came out to meet the team. “I remember sitting at the table on that first visit, with Kelly, the Clinical Manager, crying tears of happiness because finally I realised we were no longer alone. There were other families like us, and here was a place where the team understands us. I was feeling so alone for about 12 months. Imagine all those families who have been feeling like that for years.”
The memories that mean the most to Mel and Brad were the ones that were made during Cody’s final stay at Hummingbird House.
“The team took away some of our sadness and grief. They took care of us, and the almost 30 other people who came to support us and say their goodbye to Cody. Nothing was too big or small. We felt like we were home. Everyone thought ahead to what we would need, and made us all feel so comfortable. Our family and friends were involved in art projects creating memories of Cody. This gave us time to just be with Cody. To this day, all our family and friends who were at Hummingbird House with us recall what a fantastic job the team did.”
When asked what Cody liked most about being at Hummingbird House, Mel replied “he enjoyed the attention. Without a doubt. The attention. He smiled every time we walked through the door. I think he was happy to stay as long as he could.”
For the Coopers, a stay at Hummingbird House was something to be excited about, a bit like Christmas. “You plan and anticipate Christmas because it is such a fantastic family time. We just really looked forward to staying at Hummingbird House. It is so life changing, it needs to be seen or experienced to truly understand it.”
Cody shared the same excitement his mum, dad and brother did at coming to Hummingbird House. “It meant we didn’t have to worry about medications, waking up overnight, doing the feeds. We could just be a normal family for a while. For us it truly was like Christmas every time we stayed.”