“The days will always be brighter,
because you existed.
The nights will always be darker,
because you are gone.”
This time last year was the worst journey I made of my life, the journey to visit you for the last time, knowing it really was the very last time. Knowing that later that day your forever bed would be sealed, never to be opened again. As your family arrived to see you, I carefully lifted your fragile and broken little body from your bed and cradled you, rocking you backwards and forwards, treasuring what would be my last few moments with you. All eyes were on you, waiting for God to undo it, all watching you, waiting, waiting for a miracle. That miracle never arrived. So as your family kissed your tiny beautiful fluffy hair for the last time, their tears like a leaking faucet landing on your skin, they said goodbye, goodbye William. Then it was just mummy and daddy. Mummy stood holding you, the need to rock you to sleep long gone, but mummy did it anyway, still instinct, those rocking motions part of mummy’s being, part of what mummy is for, to soothe you, to comfort you, to make it better. But, mummy could no longer make this better, the primal screams from mummy’s body gone from the day you left, replaced only by muted sounds. Daddy pulled us in to a big daddy bear hug, his arms wrapped around mummy, you our baby tucked safely between us, for the last time, for the last time ever, we stood as a unit, as a family, for the last time ever we stood there completely whole, we were one. We were us, we were three. We cried for you, we cried for us, we cried over you, haunted forever by this defining moment. Daddy loosened his grip, he placed his hand on your head, left a lingering kiss on your forehead and he told you that he loved you pickle. Then he left.
It was just me and you. Me and my baby, my baby and I, William and Melissa, mother and son. Just us. I returned to the seat, I drank you in, after nearly four weeks, your beautiful pink plump skin was starting to give in to nature, a purplish, grey hue, but you were beautiful, your long dark eyelashes extending from eyes that mummy would never see again. Mummy traced her finger down your perfect button nose, taking in the contours of your lips, little lips that hid your first teeth. The glitter in your ear catching the light, mummy had asked the pathologist not to wash you, you needed to still be you, still needed to have that silky soft hair, and you still needed to have glitter in your ear from the little Christmas tree that you made mummy and daddy two days before you went to Heaven. As I sat there, holding you, my mind could not accept that you would not wake up. You were so peaceful, I expected you to scrunch your little face up any moment, kissing goodbye to milky floating dreams and coming back to reality, but it didn’t happen, you remained still, you remained silent, mummy remained broken, just like you.
I hadn’t really thought about what I would say to you that day. I just begged, I begged and pleaded with you to wake up. “Please sweetheart, please wake up, mummy’s here. Mummy loves you so much, please little man, please.” But you didn’t, my chest heaving with every breath, my heart aching with every beat, the pain palpable. “I’m so sorry sweetheart, I’m so sorry that I couldn’t protect you, that I couldn’t save you, I’m so sorry that it’s you and not me, sweetheart I love you so much, I love you, please, baby.” But no matter what I said you didn’t move, there was no sharp intake of breath where you woke me up from this wretched nightmare. I had to say goodbye, I had to put you down for the last time. I knew my time was limited, your funeral approaching, I knew that at some point it would be the last time I touched your foot, stroked your cheek, ran my fingers through your hair, held you and kissed you. I knew that in a matter of moments I would see you for the last time, ever. I wanted to open the door and run away, run down the country lane with the wind in our hair, I wanted to keep on running and never stop, to never be apart from you, for them not to take you from me, but I couldn’t. So, with the heaviest heart, and the hardest footsteps I rose and made my way over to your coffin, but I couldn’t do it, under the weight of the world I sunk to the floor and I could barely catch my breath as I tried to talk to you. My beautiful little miracle baby, the sweetest natured little boy, the most angelic and perfect little man this world would ever see was gone. I stroked your cheek one last time, I gently rubbed my thumbs over your eyes, I ran my fingers through your hair, I cupped your head in my hand and bought your head towards my face, as my lips met your forehead I kissed you, a mother’s fingerprint on her child’s skin. I squeezed you so tight and inhaled your sweet scent for one last time, and with the most agony I have ever felt I stood and I gently placed you in your forever bed. Never to hold you again.
Your legs naturally crossed, mummy placed a photo of mummy and daddy on your chest, your arms hugging it close. We were going with you wherever you went. You looked so peaceful in your beautiful satin white coffin, like you would wake at any moment, but I knew you wouldn’t. I just wanted to curl up in the coffin with you and die, our arms forever intertwined, our bond inextricably woven, untouchable. Just me and you. But I couldn’t. Your little coffin only 30 inches long. There was no room for mummy. I took one step back and just looked at you, this was never meant to be, a sight I could never have imagined I would ever witness. I came closer, I knew it was time, I had asked them to give me a time limit, knowing I would never leave you given the chance. I felt you chubby little foot in my palm, I allowed the shape of your legs to lead my hand up over your body, taking in your little legs, the little legs that had just taken their first steps, over your little belly, and down your arms to your hands. I placed your hand on mine, finger to finger, fingerprint to fingerprint, your little nails, perfectly formed, I placed your hand on my cheek one last time, I placed my hand on top of yours and felt your delicate touch against my face, if I close my eyes now, I can feel you, I can feel your touch and your tiny little fingers pressing on my cheek. I placed your hand over the photo and for one last time I leaned over and I placed my cheek on yours, I put my arm under your shoulder and I hugged you tight, my hand on your left cheek holding us together in unity, as one, as we had started out, our life as one, in one body, death had broken you, it had broken me but it would not break US. I removed my arm and I held your head in my hands, our noses touching, I kissed your lips, I kissed your cheeks and you little button nose, then I planted a kiss on your forehead. As I held your head to my lips, tears streaming down my face onto yours, I knew this was it. I had to let you sleep. I had to let you go. So, mummy made you comfortable, she straightened your hair out, tucked you in to your little blanket, “I’m so sorry baby, I’m just so so sorry, please don’t blame me. I love you, I love you so much, my boy, my everything, my life, I miss you, I’m just so sorry my darling boy. Goodnight sweet William, I love you, mummy loves you.” One gentle kiss on your head, the last kiss, I reached my hands up and I closed the heaviest object I would ever encounter, the lid to your coffin, I had to do it, it had to be me, I had to be the last one that would ever see you. The lid closed and I stepped back and I just stood and looked, I wept with every fiber of my being, knowing you were in there but I couldn’t see you, I would never see you again, I slowly stepped backwards out of the room, my eyes not leaving you, my hand found the light switch and with one movement the light was extinguished. I opened the door, still not taking my eyes away from you. I circled out of the door and stood for what felt like a lifetime, and slowly I closed the door, the door to my life. My family didn’t say anything to me, I didn’t say anything to them, I walked out. At that point I knew what giving up felt like, at that point I gave up. There would be no miracle, God would not be undoing this, you would not be waking up. Life had gone to far this time. I got in the back of the car, and I was driven away from you. Never to see you, touch you, feel you, smell you or kiss you ever again.
I sat in your bedroom when I could see the hearse creeping up the road, I could see your name in the most beautiful white flowers, I ran down the stairs and stood at the front door as I saw you being driven past, the hearse dwarfed your tiny little bed. I made my way down to the road and waited for the car to turn around and come back. Mummy had requested a car that mummy and daddy could sit in with you and take your last journey together. I climbed into the hearse and I pressed my hand on your bed, like somehow the harder I pressed I would somehow feel your baby-soft skin again. I did not take my hand off your bed the entire way. It was a slow journey, not too far, but far enough. After we arrived I could see people’s faces, your tiny coffin clearly making a devastating impact on everyone. Your flowers were removed, WILLIAM and GRUMPUS taken into the crematorium, followed by a pillow and a little reindeer, your favourite and two red roses from mummy and daddy. It was time. For the last time. I carried the heaviest thing a mother can ever carry down the longest aisle I have ever had to walk. It was time to say goodbye, but it wasn’t goodbye, not for me, for me it was “Goodnight sweetheart, I love you, see you soon.”