Dear Arthur,

Today you turn one. A day that when you were first placed in my arms I never thought we would make. With every day passing filled with so much anxiety that you are on loan, that after day 382 we will have to hand you back, like we did with your big brother William, it felt like we would never reach this milestone. I have learned from losing William that I must manage my days and hours in bitesize pieces. Never looking too far ahead. A whole year seemed impossible back then. But here we are, we did it. You did it.

You my darling boy were born out of hope in the midst of grief. An innocent little boy with absolutely no knowledge of all that has happened before you. I have tried so hard to make sure that you have never witnessed mummy crumble, I don’t want you to be scared or worried about why mummy is upset. The time will come when we tell you that you have the most beautiful big brother, a brother who lived before you, a big brother that you will never meet but a big brother who is with you with every breath that you take. You see William’s photos all around you, you’ve watched mummy on the television talking about him, the time will come, but slowly you will get to know him.

But, you are you. You are your own little person. The most independent, determined and head strong little baby I know. Some say they wonder where you get that from…I don’t want you to grow up in your brothers shadow. Despite the attention your brother receives, it is YOU who bought us light out of suffocating darkness. You have been the reason that I have put one foot in front of the other. You are the reason I get out of bed on the days when life seems impossible; because do you know my little man, YOU saved my life. Some say that your big brother has saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives because he has given me the passion to campaign, but it was YOU that gave me the life to continue. You are part of this incredible journey. You are responsible for mummy taking a completely different path.

There was a time when mummy couldn’t bear to think about the next ten minutes of being alive. There was a time when mummy tried to take her own life; at the time believing that I could never exist without William. Had it not been for your daddy, mummy wouldn’t be here. There was a time when I couldn’t move, dress, speak coherently, or even think. I remember this time so vividly. A time I don’t wish to forget about, a time that is part of this indescribable journey of survival. It is a painful reminder of how many steps I have taken since then. They say there are five stages in grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I would say I have experienced some of these things. Not necessarily in that order. But the one thing I haven’t done is accept it. I don’t think I can accept the unacceptable. But during the most insufferable days when life has felt too much of a challenge I started to realise that the one thing your brother wants is his life. Who am I to waste the one, most precious gift that was robbed of him? I never realised this before you came along, you gave me the ability to see that as much as it’s okay to not be okay, it’s also okay to be okay. As they say the past is in our heads but the future is in our hands.

You have taught me that it’s okay to miss William whilst being able to love you too. You have taught me that it is okay to pine for William whilst being happy that you are in my arms. You have taught me that it is okay to be sad that William won’t reach the milestones that you will reach. As much as your brother floored me with the most overwhelming love, you have taught me that it can continue, for him AND for you. You have taught me that it is okay to live. You my darling boy, have lived on this Earth for 365 days and you will soon be older than William was but your innocence, your total, unrivaled, uninhibited love is something that I feed off daily, something that keeps me going and something that allows me to realise that you and William share a bond that is entirely unbreakable.

You are his and he is yours. You are both mine, and I am both yours, always.

Happy birthday sweetheart xxxxx


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

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What acceptance means to me

My independent boy xx

My independent boy xx

This day last year you pulled yourself up for the first time and stood without mummy’s help. You stood and looked at the floor trying to work out exactly what you’d done and how you’d get down, but not before reaching everything you could on the table and gently placing it on the floor. I thought you would throw it, make a noise and want to repeat until bedtime, but not you. You were curious to work out what you could do, how far you could reach, you always carefully worked out your limitations. Once you had gently placed the television remote on the floor, you looked at it and knew that your body wouldn’t balance on your little legs and you wouldn’t be able to bend down to pick it up. So, when you figured it out, your bum hit the floor and the television remote was once again within your reach. You leaned over, grabbed it and popped it back on the table. Shuffling closer, out shot your chubby little fingers, gripping the edge of the table, once again you pulled yourself up. After you had practiced this several times, your eyes met mummy’s, the pride on my face sharing your own delight. It was time for a congratulatory cuddle.

These are my memories. This was the first time my little boy stood for the first time. I remembered every detail even then, I remember them even more vividly now, ingrained in my memory where no-one can touch them. Mummy had 382 days of firsts with you, 381 days of beautiful memories, until day 382 when death walked in and made the most awful memory. In that single moment, the most painful memory would be etched in my mind for a lifetime. As clearly and vividly that I can remember the first time you stood, opening the curtains to find you staring straight through me, cutting me in half with the eyes that once held your soul is a weight that I carry with me wherever I go. It is no less prominent today as it was back then, if you asked yourself, if you found your child like that, would it ever become less painful?

As every new day begins, it is a new day without you. The pain of reliving this nightmare is re-ignited. As the monotony takes hold, I imagine what I would be doing now if you were here? Would daddy still be coming in to pick you up in the morning, or would you be running into our bedroom? You would be able to stand on your own to brush your teeth, rather than mummy juggling a toothbrush and an excitable toddler. You would be able to pick what clothes you would like to wear and help dress yourself; then my imagination shatters. I collect my jacket and there was your little coat, on your peg, bright red with blue stars. As reality hit me at 100mph I took it down and held it to my face, inhaling your scent. I held it up next to my legs, imagining how tall you might be now. Imagining your excitement of putting it on ready to go to nursery. It took mummy an extra 30 minutes to leave the house, having to hang your coat back on its peg was like leaving you behind. It feels wrong.

To use the phrases with anyone that is grieving, especially a child, ‘moving on’, ‘coming to terms with it’, ‘letting go’ and ‘acceptance’ is like a knife through my heart. I don’t want any of these things. The pain doesn’t lessen, the days get longer, and the nights even longer. How can you move on? How can you come to terms with it? How can you let go? How can I accept it? How can I possibly accept that my little boy died, in avoidable circumstances, how can I accept that this is my life now, how can I accept that I will never see him again, the truth is, I can’t. So my acceptance is ‘i’m not going to accept it’. Yes, I’ve accepted that I’m not going to accept it. That is my acceptance.

Life hurts more than death

“Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live”

In the end, it’s going to be ok, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end. That’s the problem. There is no end. There is no proverbial light at the end of said tunnel. It is just a tunnel of darkness. A tunnel which feels like the inside of my head, my voice bouncing off the walls with no-where to go. The words slowly echoing into silence. And the silence, the silence is deafening.

I have never been a defeatist person, I’ve always tried to achieve goals that are perhaps slightly out of reach. A challenge. William was my biggest achievement, but he wasn’t a challenge. He taught me that in life the biggest achievement is to love and be loved. The type of love you experience only when you have a child. The bond that love creates when this tiny perfectly formed being is passed to you, your own child, your own flesh and blood, grown within your body and part of you is so magical, it eclipses any other feeling of euphoria you think you have experienced. William was a miracle, my miracle.

My first cuddle xx

My first cuddle xx

Every new day brings with it a different emotion. I get out of bed already angry, angry because William should be here, angry at the situation, angry because there is nothing I can do about it or feelings of guilt, gnawing away at me, why should I be here when Grumpus isn’t? Feeling totally hopeless and knowing that nothing will make me feel better, knowing that tomorrow won’t feel any different. If you asked me if I really wanted to feel differently, my answer is no. I don’t want to feel ‘better’, I want to be free. I write to purge the thoughts and feelings in my mind, but it does not free me from this fog.

William taught me love that exists without saying I love you, love that is felt not heard, love that silences any room with one glance, love that is so tangible it bought me to my knees. Then death walked right in and stole him from my arms. Grief instead brought me to my knees as I stood in front of his tiny white coffin; but love made me get back up, love forced me to stand tall, death has no place to come between me and my boy. When I carefully picked William up, sat down and cradled him in my arms, I was home, where I belonged, where William belonged. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that could possibly pierce that love, not even death.

No matter the depth of grief the love doesn’t go away, it doesn’t disappear or fade, it continues to grow, just as it would if he were in my arms. Death is not a barrier, it is an obstacle but death no longer frightens me, I do not fear it, living without William scares me. When my wings take flight, I will overcome grief, I will rise above the relentless sadness and pain, and I will be free. Free of this life without William. Free to be with my boy for eternity.

Do you have any children?

Mummy and William selfie x

Mummy and William selfie x

The question that I have been dreading since the day that William became forever 12 months old. A very easy question to answer, of course I have a child, I have a little boy, his name is William. But, how can that question be answered without prompting awkward silences? I cannot and would not even imagine saying no, that would be like denying his existence, an intolerable thought that makes me feel sick just saying it in my head. How could I ever say no when all I want to do is shout from the roof tops, that I am a mother, my child may not be here, but he existed, he was part of the same world that you and I exist in today. And that’s exactly it, an existence, an earthly existence. I do not feel part of my life anymore. I feel like I am viewing life from behind a thick glass, I can see, I can hear muffled sounds but none of it is real, none of it is relevant. I can just see people moving from A to B. Getting in their metal cars, driving to work, not really paying attention to what is going on around them, making meaningless conversation about the food you ate and the television you watched the previous evening, undertaking a full day’s work to earn money to pay the bills for the small brick house you drive to at the end of everyday. A brick shell that you pay money for, take ownership of, clean, a place to nurture your family and keep them safe. A place where you make memories, but what is all this worth without those that make these memories so special. As much as I am attached to my home, of course, this is where William grew up, learnt to smile, learnt to laugh and learned to love. But it is also where he died, it feels so empty and desolate without him, but yet it is his home. I no longer feel I belong anywhere, not even in my own life.

It is so easy now to see how life was taken for granted before, since William died I have become incredibly hypersensitive. I am more aware of my surroundings, noticing the tree tops on the way to work, not getting sucked into the monotonous tarmac as the road forges on; were the trees ever that tall? I’m sure I would have noticed that before. There are so many different species of tree on the way to work, I wonder how many? So many different shaped leaves, such a wide palette of colour’s, all merging together to form a sea of ‘green’. Sitting on a cliff top allowing yourself to relax, really relax, allowing your arms to flop down by your sides, the tension to be released from your shoulders, what can you hear? Can you hear the waves? Can you hear the waves bearing down on the cliff? Can you hear the wind? As I sit there and close my eyes and let the darkness gather me up, i am aware of the hair on my arms tingling as they stand to attention. My skin succumbing to the sensation that is goosebumps, a reaction to my surroundings. This is what it is to listen, it’s not simply to hear, but to feel, feel your surroundings. Encouraging your body to let go of your peripheral vision and become part of the world. What does the wind really sound like? What does the wind really feel like?

It sounds relaxing, idyllic, at one with nature. Escapism. Freedom. To me I do not feel free, I cannot escape from my thoughts, my reality, the clarity of mind that keeps reminding me that William is not part of the life I’m viewing. The life that I am forced to be part of. By default I am here. Stuck, trapped. Suffocated. The breath knocked out of my lungs, by the wind that laps at my face as I sit there, no freedom, no escapism, just an annoyance, my long hair hitting my face as the unrelenting wind serves to keep me in the present.

As the date looms closer for William’s inquest. Just a little over 3 weeks. Preparing my impact statement seemingly an impossible task. How can i possibly find words adequate enough to write down, to read, to convey the depth of love for my little boy. Although I sit here and I write now. How can I do him justice. I don’t want people to listen to my words, I want those people to close their eyes and feel my words. I would like for just one solitary moment, for those people in that room to feel a tiny bit of my pain. There are no words for that. I cannot put into words the unfathomable pain that courses through my veins. As each day passes I find myself crying more and more, unable to articulate my pain. My body is tired, weary, the end I know is near.

I have an end date. When I close my eyes at the end of another day I mark off the calendar in my mind with a big black marker. Another day over, another day closer to the time when I can finally close my eyes, and open them with my boy.

Living with anxiety

“Nobody else will ever know the
strength of my love for you.
After all, you’re the only one
who knows what my heart
sounds like from the inside.

Acceptance of where I am on this insufferable journey has somewhat given me some breathing space to not expect any more from myself than where I am and what I’m thinking. It is normal to think and feel the way I do. The thoughts about not wanting to die but equally not wanting to go on without William to co-exist is a hard concept for anyone looking from the outside in to understand, but for me it is a personal battle that I enter into every morning that I wake up, again to the realisation that William is gone.

The only change since my last post is the noticeable difference of the symptomatic side effects of anxiety. I still sit here with heightened anxiety but the medication has lifted the lid on the intensity. Sometimes it’s not enough, I become more and more agitated and what ability I did have to string my thoughts together completely diminishes. This feeling is unsettling and leaves me in limbo. Whenever I come up against something difficult I’ve always taken a very logistical and pragmatic view on how to break it down and deal with it. However, I can’t make sense of this, how can you? How can you break something down and manage it when the foundations of your life have been destroyed.

All I am doing each day is tolerating life, tolerating each day. Not wanting to or having the desire to move forward without William. I kind of feel like moving forward with life or even each day is somehow leaving William behind, leaving behind what has happened. I can hear you all saying to me ‘but you carry him with you’, ‘he’s in your heart and in your mind’, ‘you’ll never leave William behind, he’ll be with you always’, and you are right but it’s not the same as William being here, to me it feels like a betrayal to move forwards, to get to the end of each day. I now know I am not going to be moving forward knowingly, not by choice but if I do it’ll be naturally without me knowing. It doesn’t help when people point out subtle changes in my mood or something that I might do, all this does is exaggerate that it’s a ‘marker’, a ‘sign’, but it creates more of an issue for me, pointing out that I have managed to cope better with something doesn’t allow me to move forward naturally without me knowing or noticing, but just highlights that it’s happening, and that is what I want to avoid completely. I don’t want to move forward.

To even begin to entertain the idea that there is a life without William, there is another element that my mind is fighting against. That is needing William’s permission, William’s permission that it is ‘ok’, ‘ok’ to function and exist without him here. This is something that William cannot possibly tell me himself but something that I need to ‘feel’ him say or ‘sense’ him telling me. At the moment I am not ready or willing to allow this to happen. So for now I will carry on tolerating life, tolerating each day.

One thing I am certain of now is that if I carry on with this life, the life I have been left without William, I will only ever manage to live with what has happened. I will not leave it behind me or move forward but learn how carry it with me through life. Like I carried William for 9 months, like I carried him in my arms for 382 days, and now like I am left to carry him, only in my heart.