I miss you so much right now. I have found myself more teary recently. The smallest little things just set me off. I suppose there has been so much drama over the last couple of weeks but drama is an understatement. On that Monday afternoon when your little brother suddenly became quite poorly. We had been managing his temperature at home over the weekend, but on the Monday he seemed ‘different’ when he woke up from his nap. I sat your little brother, who was 10 days away from the age that you were when you died, on the sofa. I looked at him, and he looked through me, vacant, haunting eyes. I recognised those eyes. They were your eyes.
I called for help. An ambulance was here before I’d even finished explaining the situation. Your little brother was grey, he looked, well, lifeless. His little chubby legs were becoming mottled and they were cold despite his high temperature. He was shaking, not shivering, but more like strange little twitching. The paramedics assessed him, and found he was hypoxic, his oxygen saturation levels were low and his breathing was irregular. They took your little brother off me to carry him to the ambulance. As I sat there cradling my tiny, but alive little boy in the ambulance, all I could see was you. Me cradling you in the back of ‘that’ ambulance. There was no rush, no sense of urgency, no life to save. This time was different, the lights were flashing, if for one second my mind drifted away from the present and into the morning of the 14th December 2014, it was quickly jolted back to the very vivid present. As we raced through the traffic, your little brother was not very respondent. As I held onto him tight, whilst trying to keep his oxygen mask in place, I prayed, not to God, but to you. I begged you, begged you to look after him. I could feel my breathing accelerating, my chest tight and my muscles tensing as we were rushed through to resus.
The walk from the ambulance to the resus bay was a blur but as I rounded the very straight, dark blue curtain I was there. There, right where they examined you. The very same bed that I watched you, my lifeless little boy being handled in a way that you shouldn’t ever have been. I just wanted to scoop you up and run away with you, I imagined it, I could feel the wind in my hair, I could feel the cold air making my tears feel like ice on my cheek, I looked down to you, in my arms, mine. Stood there in that resus bay with so many people around you, I felt so separated from you. So very, very helpless. There was simply nothing that I could to make it better. Now I was stood at the end of the very same bed watching history unfold right in front of my eyes. But this time was different, there was a sense of urgency, there were people reading out observations to the team, there were nurses trying to take your brothers blood, there were people comforting him, there was quite simply, life. This time there was life. As I stood there, I backed away, I felt like I was stood behind a screen, in some kind of viewing parlour, looking in, watching, observing, but removed. It was a looking-glass, I was so helpless. I could sense myself crying, I could sense myself making noise, but I couldn’t hear it, “no, no, no, no…” was coming out of my mouth on repeat, but I couldn’t hear it. It was all slow motion, desensitised to my surroundings and the situation. I couldn’t lose both of you. Then I heard it, the word I knew was coming, the word I dread to ever be used in any context other than a speech I give about you. Sepsis. We are treating Arthur for sepsis.
That awful, crippling word brought me to my knees. As someone bought me a chair, I started speaking, I could hear myself, focused solely on Arthur, my eyes fixated on his tiny fragile little being, “this is Arthur, it is not William, they are different, Arthur is not William, they are different…” over and over. Somehow, from somewhere I removed myself from the engulfing PTSD, I removed myself from the most traumatic day of my life and forced myself into the present. Arthur was placed in my arms. They carried on working around us, poking Arthur doing different tests, but all I could feel was warmth. Something that was missing from Sunday 14th December. Arthur was alive. He was going to be okay, he was going to be okay, I kept telling myself. You, William, answered my prayers. After four days in hospital, Arthur was allowed to come home. He was okay.
Today on the 14th October 2017 Arthur woke up.
An insignificant and non-important statement to most, but today Arthur is 383 days old, one day older than you ever were. A day that instead of waking up, you took residence in Heaven. Last night I constantly lay listening to Arthur breathe, the sweet sound of his snoring, for once grateful that he is slightly bunged up so I can hear him more clearly. As the minutes and hours ticked by. The light crept in to the morning, day 383 begun. Arthur was still breathing, stirring, waking. I did not have to force myself out of bed, I was not disappointed that I didn’t get a lie in. Arthur was alive. He is now older than you ever were. How can that be? You will always be older, but now in some strange parallel universe, Arthur is older than you. Today the emotional hangover kicked in. A day full of what if’s, a day full of why’s, why you? why not me? why did this happen? and a day of eternal thanks. When I plucked Arthur out of his cot this morning he placed his forehead on mine, his hands on my cheeks and cuddled my face. Somehow, in his own little way, he knew, “mummy, I’m here, I’m here, it’s okay”.
Today like most parents with small children I spent the day tidying up after Arthur, cutting food into impossibly small pieces, wiping snotty noses and little bums. And with every movement I was thankful. Thankful that I have a little boy to cut up food for, a little bum to clean, a little snotty nose to wipe, a chubby little face to kiss and an impossibly wriggly little body to cuddle. These are the things I miss about you William. What would you be doing now, would you be making a mess for me to clean, would you have a snotty nose, some things are left to the imagination. For what are milestones for Arthur are now imaginations for William.
So today as Arthur reaches a milestone that William didn’t reach and will never reach, day 383. Be grateful for the small things. When your children want that extra cuddle, give it to them. When they make a mess, remember it’s their mess. When they test your patience, remember they won’t forever. When they cry in the night, remember it’s better to be awake to a crying child than crying for a child that can no longer cry. Remember that life is for living, that tomorrow is not promised.
Today I am grateful simply for the fact that Arthur woke up.
I just want to highlight that there is no link between William and Arthur having sepsis. It is sadly an horiffic coincidence, any can have sepsis.