Invisible mother


William, 10 months old x

William, 10 months old x

On Sunday I went to the beach with my nephew Rowan, he is 6 months older than William and turns 2 next month. Standing at the water’s edge, with his toes curled up in excitement, he would steal backward glances to his dad to make sure he was safe. When the waves had receded he would throw his ball and run away, stamping his feet from side to side, impatient for his ball to be returned by the tide. William would be walking by now, and I’m certain would be playing with his big cousin, both working each other up, both screaming in glee at what seems a tidal wave to a small person but gentle breaking waves to me and you. The magnitude of William’s absence overwhelming. To watch the way that Rowan would wait for his dad’s words of reassurance, the trust so deep-rooted, Rowan hanging onto his every word.  The bond so inextricably woven into their eyes. I miss that. I miss having a little person being unconditionally dependent on me.

There was not a moment that passed without me thinking about what William would be doing, would William like the water, what would he be thinking. It’s moments on the beach that drive home the loss. Other parents playing with their children, building sandcastles, exploring rockpools, I want to do all of those things with William, but I can’t. To everyone on the beach that day I was a twenty something woman taking pride in observing her nephew overcome his fear of the “bubbles” getting closer. Edging a little bit closer to the waves with every throw of his ball, being careful not to let the “bubbles” roll over his toes. After all, it was a Sunday, the weekend, surely if she had a child they would be with her on the beach. The ‘people watchers’ who’ve decided that Paul and I are a childless, young couple, enjoying our weekend off. I know I am a mummy, but I almost want to broadcast it to the world, a big sign above my head which explains in big bold letters “I am a mummy too, I didn’t choose this, my baby is in heaven, we are a family.”

It is very hard to distinguish between love and grief, because they are one of the same thing. Grief is all the love you want to give but cannot give, the more you love someone the more you grieve. The happiness and joy love brings turns to sadness and despair when unspent. Grief is just love with no place to go. Missing William and grieving for William is not about not moving forwards or living in the past, it’s about me loving him in the present.

The moment those words were spoken “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone” just like that, it was over. William was gone. In that moment, my soul died too. Leaving behind a broken shell to walk this earth. I feel like I’m stuck in purgatory, somewhere between heaven and hell. Since losing William I have read a vast amount online from similar bereaved parents, not wanting to go on, not knowing how. Finding that their surviving children, the only reason to put one foot in front of the other. Some of us in this club don’t have other children, trying desperately to find another reason amongst the pain to forge on an impossible task. My only drive is to get to the inquest, to be William’s advocate, to be William’s voice, to not just tell people how losing him has impacted our lives but to make them feel it, feel it for just one moment, the enduring pain that we feel, that we will be feeling for a lifetime. Beyond the inquest is a black abyss for me, not wanting to stick around the most desirable choice, to be reunited with my baby again. See, it’s very hard to understand these feelings, unless you’ve felt them. Some may say that taking ones life is selfish, but step back for one second and think; it is selfish to ask me to endure a life sentence, a life of pain with no desire in order to save the heartache of others. What you are asking is ‘please put up with your pain, because if we lost you, our suffering would be unbearable.’ To be there for me, to listen, to love, to help guide me, and sometimes just to know that you love me and that you would miss me is ok. But to say it’s selfish is not something anyone else can judge. You do not feel my pain, you do not feel this pain. You do not have to live through the agonising seconds, minutes, hours and days waiting, waiting for this to all be over.

I’m not asking you to accept it, to like it but just try to understand it. Suicide is the most significant part of my care plan. Knowing that I can do it tomorrow, discourages me from doing it today. My get out clause. My safety net. I know this will sound alarming to you, but try to understand. If you don’t want to know the real answer about how I am, it’s probably best not to ask.

I do not want to hurt, I do not want to die, I did not want William to die. It would be a waste of my life, but it was also a waste of William’s life. I know all of this, but mostly I know that I cannot live without my beautiful little boy. I did not choose this, it has been chosen for me.

Stuck somewhere I don’t want to be

This photo was taken just over a year ago, the flowers are in bloom again, the grass is loving the warmer weather of Spring and the sun is shining. But you’re not here. I stand at the window and look at the pathway where you once sat and it’s so empty. How can a pathway be empty? Well ours is. It looks like something is missing, and it is. Mummy had to mow the lawn the other day mostly because I couldn’t find the hole to put the washing line in, but the whole time I remembered the days we spent together on maternity leave. You happily watching mummy whilst she mowed the lawn for you to practice crawling on. You were so content, so calm and so happy. You didn’t cry or whinge, you didn’t get upset because mummy put you down, you trusted me. Trusted that you were safe with your mummy. Your eyes the picture of innocence.

Instead today I spend my time biting my nails, itching my hands, picking at my skin, sitting on the bed, twiddling the cotton in my fingers, laying down, turning over, sitting up, laying down, turning over, sitting up and getting up again because I’ve exhausted all possible positions. No position is comfy, I am constantly agitated. I go to the toilet for the fifth time in an hour, either because I’ve forgotten I’ve been or because the anxiety forces me too. My tummy rumbles constantly, I’m sure I’ve eaten, I’m sure daddy made dinner, even my tummy is crying for you too. I don’t want to ‘do’ anything, but I can’t sit still either. So mostly, I sit on the bed, looking out the window and twiddling the quilt. This somehow passes the time, part of control. I can sit for hours, although I have no concept of time. The only difference I notice is when the sun sets over the rooftops, the street lights flicker on, and I know that it’s now time to get in bed. You see, if I go to bed before it gets dark it messes up what routine I do have. If I could stay in bed all day then I would, but I can’t, so darkness is the signal I wait for. I don’t really know what I expect from getting into bed, because it’s no different from sitting on it. I don’t sleep, I lay there twiddling the quilt, cuddling your teddy and thinking of you. When my shoulder starts hurting I turn over, then when that shoulder starts hurting I lay on my back. There is no relief from the relentless torture of knowing you are not in the next room sleeping soundly. It hurts, mentally, emotionally and physically. I don’t just miss you, I yearn for you, I need you. Every muscle and fibre in my body is screaming out to embrace you, feel your warm skin on mine, lose myself in your sweet smell when you bury yourself in my neck, just to love you, physically.

When I step over the threshold and stand on the carpet in your nursery it feels different. Different than any other carpet, I somehow feel rooted to the floor, the last room you ever saw. Your beautiful darkwood kub walda sleigh bed that mummy took so long to choose, making sure it was the right one and perfect for you. It’s beautiful, the wood almost warm to the touch. I sit on the floor hold on to the bars and peer through, I sat in this exact same spot the evening before you went to heaven, cradling you in my arms, soothing you with mummy’s touch, whispering in your ear and cocooning you in my love, you calmed down, you fell into a deep slumber in my arms. As I laid in bed last night, my body crying out for sleep but my mind not allowing it I got out of bed and walked into your room and I immediately feel a sense of calm, this is your sanctuary, your warm and cM osy safe haven. When daddy came to get you up in the morning you would be all sleepy, not quite awake and wanting to snuggle. You’d grab your little reindeer so as not to leave him behind, pop your thumb in your mouth, nuzzle into daddy’s neck and come into mummy and daddy’s bed for cuddles.

I feel trapped here without you. I don’t feel like this is my life anymore, it’s not the one I wanted, this is now a life sentence. A cruel existence. As every day passes I can feel myself detaching from life. I am physically the same person, but really I’m not. I feel no better today than a week ago, a month ago, or the day after I lost you. People treat me as if I am, if they asked themselves truthfully, they know that life isn’t any easier, but it is easier to talk to me as if it is, everything to me seems so petty, I am virtually irritated by everything. As everyone around me deal with their grief differently, I feel like I am bringing people down when they are having a good day, but I can’t help it. I’m not happy, I’m not jolly, I smile but it’s forced, i laugh but it’s fake. I don’t feel real without you Grumpus, I’m just stuck here without you, paralysed by my love for you.



You can’t fix this kind of broken

Facing the world without you is a daily uphill climb. I have been finding it increasingly harder to manage to get through each day, but you probably know that, you can probably see me, I just wish I could see you. The reality of you never coming home is starting to sink in, you’re not coming home.

I’m never going to be woken up by you gently babbling to your reindeer. I’m never going to watch you struggle to pick up the pieces of peach that were too slippy for you to grab. I miss my little companion who used to help me post the balls from your ball pool through the stair gate into the kitchen, some of those balls still sit by the dishwasher. Touched last by you, posted so meticulously through the stair gate, and picked so carefully from the box of balls.

Your toothbrush and toothpaste still takes pride of place in the cup under the sink. We didn’t even get through your first tube of toothpaste. Your bath toys still hang in the basket on the side of the bath, although really you preferred the shower. When you knew it was that time in the evening, you’d crawl to the bottom of the stairs and wait. Daddy would follow you as you climbed each step, every movement an achievement, watching you learn to become independent. You’d wait patiently by the shower, waiting to be undressed, and that was it, you’d climb in and sit right under the shower head, clenching your little fists with excitement. The first time you climbed into the shower with mummy, she was watching you, observing your big brown eyes taking everything in, your facial expression changing, mummy could see you making your decision, slowly you turned to look at me ‘it’s ok sweetheart’ I encouraged you, you understood in your own little way, your fear subsiding and your curiosity taking over, you climbed straight in and sat right by my feet. Your new discovery became part of you bedtime routine. You were making your own choices. Learning by discovering.

Your little coat still hangs on your peg. Untouched. So small and dwarfed by mummy and daddy’s coats but so prominent. Your little coat hanging there holds so much meaning, it is still YOUR peg, you are still part of this family, our refusal to move it a constant reminder of what was, we didn’t choose this. Your bibs are still in the drawer, your cereal boxes still on the shelf. Your toys are all still lined up in the lounge where you left them, mummy has had to dust them occasionally, imagine that, dusty toys, that wouldn’t happen if you were around. Nothing staying still long enough to become dusty. Some of the DVD’s on the shelf are still upside down, although you know mummy likes to have things just so, she’s left them, the way you left them, a constant reminder that you touched them.

Spring is upon us and Summer seems to be just around the corner. The world seems to be waking from the cold winter. Flowers are starting to blossom, filling the garden with their fragrance and beauty.  The birds singing as they enjoy the leafy trees that were bare only a few weeks ago. Somehow it seemed apt that it was cold, bleak, and gloomy outside. It doesn’t seem right that the rest of the world is warming up and soaking up the joys of what Spring brings, new life, new baby lambs, the gardens awakening under the heat of the sun and you are not here to enjoy it with us. To know that you’ll never hear the birds singing, never sit in your paddling pool in the garden splashing in the water, never sit on the beach and eat the sand. All of those plans are gone, our whole future that we planned with you is gone. I was sitting on the bed the other day looking out the window and as my eyes focused they noticed your hand print. Mummy used to hold you whilst you stood on the windowsill looking at the cars and the birds. ‘wassat’ you’d say as you pointed eagerly at the birds. Putting your tiny little hand print on mummy’s windows. It’s still there. Mummy looks at it everyday, a reminder that you were once here. You touched that glass. You left your mark.

On your last day at nursery,  you made us a Christmas tree, and when you came home you had glitter in your hair and your ear. Then just 36 hours later it didn’t seem possible that mummy was sat cradling your tiny little body, when just a few short days earlier you had been busying yourself making that Christmas tree.  There is a fleck of glitter that remains in your cot, sometimes it catches the sun and I imagine you sitting in nursery with your hands covered in glitter, enjoying yourself, discovering new textures and shapes.  Mummy used to love sitting and watching you play, watch you thinking, watch you figuring out a shape and making a decision, then you’d catch my eye, mummy couldn’t help but smile and you would crawl over for a cuddle. How can you be gone?

The last thing you ever touched, your blue sippy cup still lays in exactly the same position, in your cot, right where you left it, after you had your last drink at 5am. Mummy has picked it up a couple of times, wrapping my fingers around the handles, mimicking your tiny little fingers around those exact same handles. Mummy misses you, but you probably know that. Do you watch me every night standing at your window? I talk to you, do you hear me? Missing you isn’t the problem, it’s knowing you’re never coming back that’s destroying me. Sometimes people tell me that you’re in a better place, but we both know that a better place would be right here with me. The simple fact is I don’t know how to live without you, and I just don’t want to.