I walk towards the window at the bottom of the stairs, and as I make my way up the stairs, step number one, step number two….step number fourteen, I reach the landing opposite your bedroom and close the curtains. I make sure the bathroom blind is closed and mummy and daddy’s curtains are closed to, then I’m ready, with upstairs plunged into darkness I make my way into your bedroom, but instead of laying you down to zip you into your sleeping bag, I make my way to your window. I imagine myself stood here holding a very tired little William, sucking your thumb with your head snug into mummy’s neck, I close my eyes now and inhale, I can smell you, knowing that sweet strawberry cosy warmth, a scent I will never forget. A scent that lingers on in everything you touched. A scent that still smothers the last jumper I ever cuddled you in. A jumper that still hangs on the bottom of my bed. Not only is this the jumper that you snuggled into when you were so poorly that day, but it is the jumper that I wore to pick your cold, lifeless body up at the hospital. A jumper I knew that you loved, a jumper that you found comforting. It seemed only right that I wear this jumper to cuddle you in when I visited you.
As I walked through that door, I always knew what to expect but I broke, I broke every time, seeing your tiny little body lying in the blanket with your little teddy. It was wrong, it was so wrong. Nothing could ever possibly soften the impact of seeing you that way. Regardless, I visited everyday. I remember visiting you before you went on your trip to Birmingham for your post-mortem. I visited you with 3 friends, I opened the door, I saw you again, my legs buckled, I cried out and crawled towards the hospital gurney. I pulled myself up so my head was level with yours, I caught my breath, I stroked your hair and kissed your beautiful skin, I slowly pulled back the sheet, to wrap you in the blanket mummy would cuddle you in. The bruises so purple, so vivid, an awful reminder of the minutes mummy tried in vain to save your life with CPR. CPR that I can remember so clearly as if it’s happening now. The ambulance call handler, reciting ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, rescue breath 1…..rescue breath 2….. and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4’ I can remember her voice, I can remember the phone and I can remember the struggle it was to open your mouth to give you rescue breaths, rigor mortis having already taken you away, but we carried on, we tried, we tried with everything we could possibly give it. I would still be doing it now if I thought it would give me one more minute with you. Your gaze was fixed on the ceiling, your eyes were glazed over and your little soul had gone. My beautiful little William had taken flight. You were already gone. Mummy tried so hard, and when the paramedics ran up the stairs, I screamed ‘PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO SOMETHING’, they tried to sweetheart, but there was nothing they could do. As I stood behind one paramedic he turned to me and said ‘I’m sorry my love but he’s gone’. Gone. You were gone.
I think another paramedic caught me as I fell backwards down the stairs, I remember daddy ringing nanny but I can’t remember anything other than screaming, wailing, a sound was coming out of me that I didn’t even knew existed. The paramedics suggested it wouldn’t be a good idea to come in your room, but no, I needed to be with you. You were still in the same position as you had been minutes earlier. I laid down on the floor, my head next to your head, my cheek on your cheek. My hand on your other cheek holding you as close as I could possibly get. I begged, I was begging you, ‘please wake up, sweetheart please wake up, William, please’ but you didn’t, you were gone. There was nothing I could do. The paramedics offered to carry you out, but no, that was my job. I wrapped you in your favourite blanket and I picked you up, and I cradled you in my arms, so close, your head resting on my chest. I walked slowly down the stairs, one by one, drinking in your beautiful face, feeling the weight of you in my arms, knowing these last precious moments would be the last moments you would be in your home, as a little person. I sat on the sofa, waiting, looking in your eyes, broken. Knowing less than 24 hours earlier I had cradled you in this very same spot, willing you to feel better, willing mummy to be able to take your discomfort away. Now, I was sat here, you were in my arms, but you were dead. Daddy could barely look at us, stood in front of us, he didn’t know where to look. Then they told us it was time to go.
I carried you out, I carried you down the front steps, I walked onto the pavement to the ambulance that was parked in the middle of the road. I looked to see a queue of traffic, stuck, not being able to pass the ambulance that arrived to save your life, but would now be carrying your body to hospital. I climbed in, I held you, I cuddled you, I talked to you, cuddled you, kissed you and I waited, for what I’m not sure. The rest of the day was awful, I remember filling the corridor of A&E with the gut wrenching sound of my crying, I remember refusing to hand you over, I would take you every step of the way that I possibly could. I walked with you, looking into your eyes, those eyes. No-one else existed, it was just you and me baby, as the door opened I walked down the main trunk corridor of the hospital, your family following, people noticing, tapping in to the grief they could see that was written all over my face; and then we were there. It was time. The man came out from behind the double doors. I stood there, everyone silent, and I knew this was it, this would be the last time that you were really mine. I gently passed you to the mortician. He stood there as I watched. I did not move, I wouldn’t leave. He had to be the first to leave. As he turned, I broke, I could no longer see you, the doors opened and swung shut. That was it. You were gone. I was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I knew at that point I had to see you again, I had to touch you, hold you, cuddle you, kiss you.
So, as I peeled back those blankets and I saw your bruised belly I was reminded of the day before, less than 24 hours ago, when I had tried in vain to somehow give you my life. Mummy mode took over, I wrapped you in your favourite blanket around your heavy, cold and limp body, I picked you up, I sat on the chairs and I held you so close. Those people who were there to visit you were no longer in my peripheral vision, it was just me and you baby. I talked to you, I explained how mummy didn’t understand, I explained how mummy felt, I talked about the journey we should have been on that day, on board a ferry on our way to Spain to visit nanny and grandad for Christmas. Instead I was laid here cradling you in my arms, your tiny palm on my cheek, your other finger’s entwined with mine, I could feel the warmth of my body warming you through. I could see my tears flow down your cheeks. I could hear their tears, my friends, I could hear their pain, knowing this would be the last time they saw you. The last time they had seen you alive was your 1st birthday.
An hour, that’s how long I was able to hold you that day. As I prepared to say goodbye until tomorrow I placed you back on the bed, wrapped you in your blanket and tucked your teddy in tight. I walked out of the room backwards. Knowing I was leaving you behind. Knowing I couldn’t take you with me. I was crushed. The door closed and the click of the lock signified a dimension between us. I broke, I fell, I cried, I wailed, without you baby I was nothing then and I’m nothing now; as I stand at your window I look at the sky hoping that somehow I might feel your presence, but I don’t. I know you’re gone. I know that when I close your curtains, you will not be there. I know that as I lay my head on my pillow you will not be in the next room. My only hope is that as I close my eyes at the end of each day, I open them and I’m with you.