Why do some days hurt more than others, well after all, today is no different from yesterday, I woke up and William’s big smile still didn’t greet me. Mother’s Day hurt more than the day before it or the day after, because that day is a day that bereaved mother’s like me are full of imaginations not busy making memories. Paul gave me a mother’s day card, a beautiful photo of William and me on the front, lot’s of love from Pickle it reads. But William didn’t give it to me. William didn’t scribble inside. William didn’t make it. As I ate my breakfast in bed, William wasn’t there to help me eat it. William was simply not here, and he never will be.
After having a coffee in town we went into a shop to look at mother’s day charms for my bracelet, all of them lovely, but you know I felt odd, stood there choosing a charm ‘beloved mother’, ‘special mum’, when it should be William choosing it for me, but he’s not. The charms on my bracelet, all memories, a little pram, bought by William’s grandparents when he was born. A heart that breaks in two, to reveal ‘mother’ written on one half and ‘son’ on the other, bought for me by William and his daddy on our first joint birthday. Only 17 days later, William was gone. Shortly after, an angel wing, a little boy, and William’s foot and hand print charms adorned my bracelet. I didn’t buy a charm, I couldn’t. That should be William’s job.
As I sit here writing this, my chest hurts. It really hurts, when you think that you’ve cried all the tears you have, more continue to flow. I remember shortly after William died I was dehydrated, forgetting to drink, crying so much, despite this, the tears would still come. Stinging as they stream down my face, eventually they would dry hard to my cheeks. Too exhausted to cry anymore.
I’ve been quite quiet recently, many of you will have seen William and I on television, heard me on the radio and seen William’s little photo in the newspaper, but what you see is a face. Behind the camera, behind closed doors, I haven’t been well. I’m currently struggling to work, going out is a struggle, getting out of bed is a struggle. Living is a struggle. I feel totally empty. Motivation comes only in the form of continuing the battle to fight for William’s life not to have been in vain. Grief is real, trauma is real, this life sentence is real. You see as much as William lived, he died too, death is so real, and death is so very vivid, especially William’s.
It is not just something that happened, something which you can move on from, it is not something that you can accept and let go of. It is not a choice. My waking hours are spent tormented by William’s last hours, by William’s last moments in his home. No matter where I look, right there in the forefront of my mind is William’s broken little body, his little hand suspended in the air, despite the CPR, it didn’t move. William was truly being held tightly in death’s grip. I remember asking the paramedic why it wouldn’t move. He said very calmly, ‘shortly it will, rigor comes very quickly after a child’s dies, if at all, it will be gone soon’. He was right, by the time I had carried William downstairs I was able to hold his hand once more. You see I don’t get a choice, these ‘moments’ in time can take up days and months of my life, and they do. Paralysed in their grip, they are debilitating.
When you lose a grandparent or a parent, you are sad, people are sad for you, but you are able to talk about the happy life you shared together, the longevity of their life. The great world events they witnessed, like seeing man walk on the moon. Somehow it seems ‘ok’. They’ve had a life, they’ve had a chance, the natural order that we are used to is performing its duty. After all, we are all born to die. But we are not all born to die after 382 days. It is just so wrong, so very wrong, there is nothing that anyone can say, believe me they try, to bring you crumbs of comfort. God doesn’t pick the best. He’s not in a better place. The best place for William is with his mummy and his daddy. God didn’t take William, substandard care and science took William.
People are kind, compassionate and they mean well, and I never turn away from someone who so desperately wants to bring you comfort, but simply doesn’t know how and doesn’t have the words. Simply put, they just don’t know. And I’m glad they don’t know, I’m glad they don’t understand, sadly too many of us do. Sometimes people say, I know how you feel. No, you don’t. Unless you have lost a child, a child you knew, a child with whom you already had an unbreakable bond, a child who died because of others incompetence, no, you don’t know. It’s not comparable. It’s not comparable with the death of your grandparent, it’s not comparable with the death of your dog, or the dissolution of your marriage or a breakup. No, unless you have lost a child, you will never know.
You completely lose sight of the person you once were, the person you had become, the person your much-loved child allowed you to be. That person is not just gone from sight, that person is gone forever. As much as William’s birth defined me as a person, William’s death re-defined me once more. To be forced to live on despite no longer knowing who you are. I just don’t know who I am anymore, I don’t recognise myself. I loved the person that I became when William was born, but she died with William. What’s left is a shell, a shell that is forced to live in the shadow of the person I used to be.
What is every parents greatest fear, is my reality. People cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child, because there is nothing to compare it to. I know what it is like to realise your darkest fears. I know what it is like to go and wake my child in the morning, and for him to have fallen asleep forever. I know what it is like to give my child CPR, already knowing it won’t make any difference. I know what it is like to lay next to the body of my child, cheek to cheek, and beg for him to wake up, knowing he never will. I know what it is like to pick the last outfit my child will ever wear. I know what it is like to cuddle my child knowing that I will NEVER touch him again. I know what it is like to watch the curtains close around his tiny white coffin. I know what it is like to be told, that my child should have survived, had others done their jobs properly. I know what it is like to fold his little clothes away, never to be worn again. I know what it is like to miss my child so desperately, the closest I can get to him, is to smell his little teddy, and be lucky, LUCKY, if it still carries his little strawberry scent. I know what it’s like to want to go home, but knowing that place is with William. I know what it’s like to not belong. I know what the cutting pain feels like, knowing that despite everything I did, I couldn’t protect my child. I know what it’s like to sit and look into the eyes of the doctor that could have saved my child, but didn’t. I know what it’s like to hear his apology, knowing that he would be going home to his children, and I wouldn’t be. I know that HE will never understand the depth of destruction that he had a hand in. And I hope he never has too.
But I know. I really know.