I loved you like there was no tomorrow…
and then one day, there wasn’t.
At 6.43pm on the 13th December 2014, I held you alive for the last time. The very last time that I cradled you alive, the last time I felt the weight of you in my arms. I didn’t know that would be the last time you would hear my voice, I didn’t know those would be the last words that I would ever speak to you; “Goodnight sweetheart, I love you.” I didn’t know that would be forever.
I remember making two promises to you when I held you on my chest for the first time, a bundle of arms and legs and warmth. I remember cupping your tiny little head with my hand, a head covered in the most beautiful dark hair, I remember so well, being scared to touch perfection, a euphoric experience that I can close my eyes and imagine, I remember thinking to myself, wow, after what has been a tumultuous life, I had struck gold. I knew from that moment, it was you, it was you that I had always wanted, it was you that I had always needed, it was you that through the hardest of times I held out for. My prayers had been answered. In that instant, in that moment, that moment of total peace, it was a strange feeling, a love so fierce it burned inside my chest, I promised you in that moment that I would love you with everything I had, that I could ever give, I knew that you were the key to my soul. So I made you that promise. Through the tears, the first words you ever heard your mummy speak, I promised you that I would love you with every ounce of my being, I would give you my heart, my body and my soul. I knew that you were the essence to what made my life meaningful and full of purpose.
The second promise that I made you came from my fear, my fear of being separated from you. After having extensive surgery I knew that in any moment, mummy could be taken away from you. Never having been in good health, having nearly died twice I knew that life was so fragile. The second promise that I made you was to make sure that the last time I saw you, whether that be when I tucked you up at night, when I dropped you off at nursery or when you were older and were off to play football with your friends, would be to tell you that “I love you”. I wanted to know that in case anything ever happened to your mummy that they would always be the last words that I would ever say to you. It wasn’t supposed to be the other way round, it was never supposed to be you. Shortly before you made your ascent to Heaven they found another tumour on mummy’s ovary. After seven surgeries and the tumour’s I have endured, I had never been scared, never had any fear of dying, in that moment, when they found that tumour, I cried, I cried so hard, I collapsed in a heap on the floor, begging daddy to tell me it wasn’t real, the fear that I would be taken away from you, why now? why me? why us? Hadn’t I gone through enough. Life now was perfect.
Then a few days later I whispered those words, what were to be those final words “Goodnight sweetheart, I love you.” I didn’t know that it would be forever. I kept my promises, I still keep my promises. I still love you with everything I have to give, and I still kiss your little bear goodnight and blow a kiss to the stars and say “Goodnight sweetheart, I love you.”
On the morning of December 14th 2014 I climbed out of bed and made my way into your room, I opened the door, I didn’t have my glasses on, the blackout blinds not letting any light in, I crept round to the side of your cot and I stoked your cheek. A chubby little cheek, warm to my touch, but you did not stir. I knelt down, put my arm through the bars of your cot, I stroked your arm, it was cool, I didn’t think too much of that, you slept in a sleeping bag with your arms out, and because you’d been poorly you had a vest on rather than a onesie. Still you didn’t stir. I stood, I stroked your side, you were stiff, your whole body moved with the motion of my hand, I turned, opened the curtains and blind and then I saw you. Your eyes cutting straight through me, I will never forget that moment, those words, “he’s dead, Paul he’s not breathing, Paul”. I ran to get the phone, I called the ambulance, daddy lifted you out of your cot and placed you on the floor, you were gone, we knew, your little arms and legs not moving. As I screamed down the phone, the operator calmly talked us through CPR, with every compression, I begged, I screamed, as I tilted your head back, I saw your chest rise and fall with every breath I gave you. You didn’t wake. You didn’t move. The paramedics arrived, they tried in vain, the chest compression’s they administered were so hard on your little body, I wailed at the shoulder of the paramedic as his hands scooped your body in his grip, desperately trying to pump life back into you. And then, those words, the most crippling words that any parent will ever hear, “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone.”
As I fell backwards another paramedic caught me, they tried to take me out of the room, the breath like yours, gone from my body, I could not stand, I could not breathe, I could see you. You were gone. 8:47am you were pronounced ‘dead’. On the vast amounts of paperwork, there are no terms that are less cutting, ‘deceased’, ‘dead’, ‘no signs of life’, and the worst, ‘life extinct’. Life extinct. Your life was ‘extinct’. Two words that were spoken to your grandparents that shattered their dreams and their lives, “William’s dead”. There were no other words in that phone call. There were no other words needed, no other words could be spoken, nanny and grandad could hear your mummy wailing in the background, so did the street we live on. The ambulances blocking the road, the front door open, mummy’s wailing pierced the ears of those wondering what was going on. It was only when I walked outside with your fragile and broken little body in my arms, that people knew. Their faces on mummy’s, their heads bowed down. Your beautiful, lifeless little body spoke a thousand words. Mummy was broken. I could write a thousand words for every minute of that day.
That day I took the longest walk of my life, in reality it probably took several minutes, but to me it was a lifetime. As our family were escorted from resus, through the hospital, it had to be me that carried you, my face not leaving yours, it was me that handed you to the mortician, “please, look after him“ I said. I could not turn and walk away, it had to be him, this strange man, cradling my baby, taking you somewhere unfamiliar. He turned, and through those doors you were gone. “No, no, no, no, please no”. Never was a word spoken with so much power, one word spoken by mummy, a mummy who had just lost the most precious cargo she would ever carry. A word delivered with conviction, a word that encapsulated all of the pain and love I would ever feel. Please. Please give me my baby back, please don’t let this be real, please, God no, please, please baby wake up. Please.
It wasn’t time to say goodbye, it wasn’t time to let you go, I never will let you go. It has been one whole year since my world was shattered. I sit here today, reliving every moment that we lived this very day last year. There were and still are so many goodbyes. It wasn’t just that moment that I knew you were gone, it was being told, it was having to walk out the room whilst they examined you, it was handing you over to a stranger. The goodbyes are not just those first days but the milestones that you would pass that we’ll never reach with you. Your first plaster, the first time you would have said “mummy, I love you”, your first day at school, you first nativity, for me these aren’t first’s instead they are goodbye’s. A future that was robbed from you and from mummy and daddy. We regularly have to say goodbye to the dreams we had.
I miss you baby, I don’t know how to live without you, I don’t know what to do. I function but every step, every word spoken, every little job I do, is done without heart, is done simply because I have to. Life has lost its sparkle, the sparkle that you bought. I no longer trip over toys, I no longer worry about whether there is a hot cup of coffee within your reach, I no longer have to change after you’ve been sick on me, I no longer sleep through the night, I no longer have control over my mind or my thoughts, I no longer get that feeling of euphoria over one little smile, I never get to look in your eyes and cry with admiration, I no longer get to hold you, my sleeping baby, simply because I don’t want to put your down. I never knew that something so small, and so perfect could affect my life as it has, I never knew that I could possibly love someone so much, I never realised how much I would love being ‘mummy’. I never knew what it would feel like to have my heart-broken into irretrievably small pieces, I never knew how much I could hurt. I never knew what it would feel like to live with my heart outside of my body. You have my heart sweetheart, and with you it will always remain.
Loving you is easy, the best and biggest impact anything has ever had on my life. Missing you is inextricably hard. My heart breaks and will keep breaking until I hold you in my arms again, our souls are tied forever, an unconditional love that remains unbroken and more powerful than death. I love you my sweet William.
I would like you to think about what the last words spoken to your child/ren were before bed, before they went out to school, before they went back home to their own family, or hung up after calling you. Don’t take life for granted. Make those words “I love you”. Please.