Dearest William…

I hope you are ok? Mummy is missing you so much. Mummy is finding it so hard at the moment, it’s so hard to live without you. It has been 15 short months since you went to live in your new home. 15 months is longer than you lived for. 15 months isn’t very long in the context of a lifetime, well not mine at least. 15 months is long enough, what is 15 years going to feel like, or 50. I hope by then I’m with you. I hate this sweetheart I really do. I can’t remember the last time I was happy. The last time I really laughed so hard. I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t have a care in the world.

Losing you is the hardest fight that I will ever have to face, and it is a fight. The constant urge of wanting and needing to give in is prevalent. I am but one breath from being with you, but that feels like a lifetime away, well it is a lifetime. It is probably a good job that we don’t have on/off switches. I would have flicked that switch a long time ago, to end this part of my life in purgatory, and to spend the rest of my time, with you. Only with you. Well not just with you, but the two other little children, who sadly, mummy didn’t get to give birth to. See, you were so special, the little one that made it. I was honoured to share my birthday with you. You couldn’t get a more perfect gift than you.

You changed my life, you changed me as a person, you see I don’t think people realise quite how much. Before you arrived I had resigned myself to a life with no children. Growing up I was fiercely independent, I knew my mind and where I wanted to be. I grew up very quickly and left my childhood behind. Nanny and grandad worked so much, every day in fact, so I spent a lot of time with your great nanny, and auntie Joyce. But I learnt how to look after myself, I worked hard as soon as I was old enough, I did well at school, but I always did my own thing. I was the only one who really exerted control over me. When I was told at 11 years old that it was unlikely I would have my own children, I planned around it, I never grew up playing with dolls or talking about children. Even nanny and grandad didn’t think I was maternal at all, throughout my pregnancy I worried I wouldn’t be good enough, I worried that I wouldn’t know what to do, and I worried that I wouldn’t be a good mum. I remember being in labour and I said to daddy “what happens if I don’t love him, what happens if he doesn’t love me?” Daddy assured me that would never happen. Daddy was right (don’t tell him I said that), for once I have no problem standing on the tallest building and shouting, your daddy was right. My goodness I have never loved anyone or anything as much as I love you, and you loved me.

I knew how special you were, I knew then. I know now. I will always know. You were the one that allowed me to lessen the grip I held on myself, you allowed me to live with more freedom, allowing myself breathing space. You taught me there was more to life than working 24/7, you taught me that it didn’t matter if filing wasn’t done the moment the bills came through the door, you taught me that it didn’t matter if the washing didn’t get done, if the dinner wasn’t on the table at 6. I had spent the day encapsulated in our bubble of love. That is the power of love. A total force of nature. You taught me to be selfless, to be patient, to be compassionate, to love with no expectations. You taught me how to live. I owe my life to you. I owe everything to you. I gave you everything I have.

Being separated from you has ignited sheer desperation, a yearning and need that I cannot fulfill, manifesting itself as pain. The price I will pay for the rest of my life for loving you so much. That pain will only increase as the love intensifies and the ache in my arms becomes heavier. At the moment I’m not living peacefully, you probably know. You can probably see my struggle. The tears, the sleepless nights, the nightmares, flashbacks and hallucinations. You probably know that I’m not working. The visions of your broken little body now not just thoughts but tricks of my mind. I don’t like it. I can’t help it, your broken little body can appear on the windowsill as I’m sat in the office working, reflections in the mirror as I look at myself, or like the other night, I woke screaming, sweating, having had your little hand drop on mine, but not your plump, dimpled little hand that I used to hold but your stiff, cold hand, the entirely different hand that I saw after you had died. Why do I experience this, I don’t know. As much as I have experienced your waking moments, I also experienced your dying ones too. I experienced your death, and as much as your little life made the biggest impact on my life, your death did to. Your life happened, but so did your death.

What am I supposed to do without you? How am I supposed to live without you? All I want to do is come home, but I am ‘home’ but I’m not, my home is with you. We should have been making memories today, you would have been making me a card at nursery, you should have been here to see me open it, and help me eat my breakfast in bed that you and daddy made. We should have gone out and filled our day with more of those infectious smiles and laughed until our cheeks hurt, making memories. I should have heard you say ‘mummy I love you’ I should have been able to say, thank you sweetheart, I love you too. But I can’t, instead I’m sat in bed looking out of the window. I can see white smoke from the chimney across the road, make its way into the dark dusky sky, wishing I was a free spirit like the smoke, making its way into the atmosphere. I just want to be free again, but until we are together again, I know I never will be. I live everyday with the guilt, guilt that I couldn’t protect you, that somehow I didn’t do enough to save you. I hope you don’t blame mummy as much as she blames herself. The thought of letting you down, leaves me barely able to live with myself, but Daddy is doing his best to look after mummy’s broken soul.

William you allowed me to see life through different eyes, you allowed me to open my eyes and experience LIFE. William, you gave me love, a love that I didn’t know existed, you gave me love that was beyond my imagination. William, you made me a mummy, you made me your mummy, thank you. Thank you for picking me. It will always be you.

As another day draws to a close without you, another mother’s day without you, one more day closer to you. I look up to the night sky and like every other evening I say to you, goodnight sweetheart, I love you. Your mummy xxx


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

 

 

 

Closure, what is that?

“Closure” – noun

  • a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved.

Amongst other more trivial definitions, this is the word that is commonly used when a non-bereaved person has no idea what to say to you. At least after the funeral you might get some closure, when the inquest has finished it should give you some closure, when you have received an apology from those that failed your son, you will get some closure. Erm, no. As it says above, closure refers to the resolution of an emotional or traumatic experience. Losing a child, losing William will always leave a gaping chasm in my life that can never be resolved, fixed or even emotionally explained away. The only way to resolve my profound hurt, is for William to be alive.

The last few weeks have been a real whirlwind, what you have seen in the news, the news papers, on the internet is a representation of the way my mind is bubbling all the time. It is everything that I have been hoarding in my brain for the last 14 months, and only a small proportion of it came out in one day. It was emotionally charged and overwhelming, something that I knew I had to do. A double-edged sword. I didn’t want to be there, but I did. I didn’t want to see William’s beautiful smiling face on the TV, but I did. The most unusual bittersweet sense of pride one can feel. I didn’t want to talk about what happened to William, there’s no getting round it, and having to revisit the most traumatic day and subsequent days of my life on repeat was a difficult task to endure. But it was a sacrifice. A sacrifice I made to see my pint-sized William make a difference. And what a difference he made.

As I sit here now, finally able to sit and write, the emotions that inhibit my body, from the pit of my stomach, the waves roll through my chest, my jaw clenches as the tears flow. I have barely cried these last few weeks, well, that’s not entirely the truth, I cry everyday, I cry in the morning, some days I am already crying when I wake up. I cry in the shower, in the car, at my desk whilst writing a memo. But, I haven’t cried so loud in the shower when no-one can hear me, I haven’t cried so hard I couldn’t focus and had to stop the car. I haven’t allowed my body to let go, to heave and purge the compressed tension that sits in my soul. Initially after the media frenzy I was simply so exhausted I would just sit and stare, and then I got scared, so scared that I held it in, knowing that when it came I would not be able to control it.

But today was that day, today I opened an attachment on an email, ‘re: William Oscar Mead, Deceased’, deceased. My son is deceased. My son, my only child, my everything is dead. It is so very easy to somehow objectify your actions, to travel to London, to go on the television and talk about the failings in William’s care, so easy to talk about what needs to happen, what needs to change, to educate people and help to raise awareness of sepsis. But I did that, because my little William knows what it’s like to die, my son shouldn’t know that, and no matter how much positivity you harness, how much you empower parents, and how much awareness you raise of the catastrophic condition that took our little boys life, William is still not here. We still came back to an empty home, no mess, no toys strewn on the floor, no laughter and contagious smiles. Nothing. No William.

You get to a point, and I’m at that point where people don’t approach you with caution, people no longer ask you how you are, with a sympathetic look, worried for the answer they’ll receive. No, now, there is an expectation that when people see you that you are okay. They will ask you how your weekend was, they will engage you in conversation, or as I like to put it, small talk. My tolerance levels are no better than they were six months ago. My tolerance levels are worse, I have just become a seasoned pro at wearing the mask. When you ask me how my weekend was, it was shit. Just like every other weekend. It was shit because on Friday after work I didn’t pick William up from nursery, I didn’t flop onto the sofa with a glass of wine when William had finally succumbed to sleep. It was shit because my weekend didn’t involve trips to the park, 25 loads of washing, chasing round after a cheeky two-year old, packing him into the car with ‘plans’. I will tell you it was ‘okay’, because I can no longer be bothered to explain, people no longer really want to hear it, people are busy with their own lives, people’s lives have moved on, albeit tinged with sadness but nonetheless, their lives have evolved.

My mental health has not moved on, it has not evolved. I am no longer preparing for an inquest, I am no longer bracing myself for the next version of the NHSE report, no, I know what happened to William, although I’ve known for months, however, it is not something that I felt able or inclined to speak about publicly. We’ve had every apology we can possibly have, the doctors involved in the failings in William’s care have apologised, face to face, last week. South Western Ambulance Service (111) apologised last year. NHSE have apologised, and now Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, stood in Parliament and apologised on behalf of the NHS and the Government (see video below). But, where is William? It doesn’t bring my little boy back, it doesn’t take away the suffering he endured in those last few months, and in those last 36 hours, it doesn’t take away the guilt I feel, the blame I impose on myself, probably a form of self-harm. Control perhaps. I know it’s not my fault, I did everything I could, I sought help, I listened, I followed advice, I didn’t know what sepsis was, I didn’t know that William’s symptoms were life-threatening. But regardless it was me who took him to the people who failed my son, me. The one person that has ultimate responsibility for my son, he trusted me to protect him, trusted me to make the right decisions for him, he trusted me with his life, and as his mother I wasn’t able to do it. I was let down, let down by people and systems that are designed and are in place to help people, but until I take my last breath, the buck stops with me. No amount of changes, recommendations, lives saved, and sorry’s will ever stop me feeling that.

If you’ve ever faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that somehow when responsibility is taken for it, it will fix it. They are lying. Grief in all it’s forms is brutally painful. People encounter grief in many ways, when relationships fall apart, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses destroy you, you grieve. These are words that I’ve uttered countless times; words that are powerful and honest they remove the foundations of anyone participating in the debasing of the grieving. Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

This video is the link to the apology William received in Parliament, if you would like to watch.

http://videoplayback.parliamentlive.tv/Player/Index/563715bb-a8f2-41fe-9f36-642d670ed991?in=2016-01-26T12%3A37%3A45%2B00%3A00&out=2016-01-26T13%3A15%3A00%2B00%3A00&audioOnly=False&autoStart=False&statsEnabled=True



www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

The most Harrowing and Ultimate Goodbye

“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.”

Your last journey xx Your last journey xx

www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

One Year Without You

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.


 

www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

What is mental health?

Before William died I had no experience of the mental health care in the UK. I’d had no reason to need it personally, nor had I known anyone personally suffering with their mental health. It wasn’t even taboo, because I didn’t even afford it much thought. I would often catch the news, mental health being known as the cinderella service of the NHS. Hard to access, not enough facilities or not the right facilities. This may be true in some areas or for others experiences. But, I can say that had it not been for the care and guidance of the mental health team in Cornwall, I would not be here. They have been the scaffolding that has been wrapped around me for the last 11 months, and continue to be. When I fall I know they are there. When I’m falling and I don’t know it, they catch me.

Anyone in my position will know that time is like a punishment. Nothing you can do to stop it, always ticking by, excruciatingly slow. Initially, days passed in shock, weeks passed in disbelief and months have passed without me even knowing, carried along on the tidal wave of grief, churning me round and round in the eye of the storm, discarding me just where it wants too. In the initial few months, everyone has time, everyone touched by William, and they now have a life tinged with sadness, but albeit a life that they return too, maybe after the funeral, maybe after the inquest, maybe when I returned to work. Slowly people drift away back to their own lives, no time to sit with me anymore to go over and over things like I did back then. I still need to do that, so who do I lean on, who do I turn to when people are living their lives and I am on my merry-go-round of despair and can’t get off? I turn to those who I know will always be there, with a bucket load of time. Whether it be when I have a complete meltdown in the dairy aisle of the supermarket and the crisis team need to come and rescue me or whether it be the day before my scheduled one to one appointment and I need them now. I know I can rely on them to change my appointment.

I have full capacity. I am not mentally ill. I have a problem that they cannot fix. They cannot bring William back. I could be hospitalised because of my suicidal ideation, but knowing they could not fix me, and they would only be removing me from everything that is William would increase the intensity of those feelings. So, what do they do? One thing they haven’t done is give up. But, one thing they have done is respect me and respect my decision. I am a vulnerable, high risk adult. What does that mean?

Vulnerable Adult – A vulnerable adult is described as a person aged 18 years or over, who is in receipt of or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

High Risk Adult – Current or recent moderate / high risk of intentional self harm

So that is what I am. Am I embarrassed or ashamed to be in this category of society? No. You see just like any other debilitating illness, mental health problems are real. They don’t go away when you take medication. You can’t ‘just get over it’. You can’t make yourself want to live. You can’t make yourself eat or sleep if your body is telling you not to. You can’t stop tortuous memories of finding your son passed away in his cot. You can’t stop hearing the call handler’s voice as she talked you through CPR. You can’t ever stop the image of your child in his coffin just pop into your head. You can’t stop that fear of knowing that tomorrow will be just as bad, after all William won’t be here then either. With these flashbacks and thoughts come physical side effects. Chronic insomnia, days with no sleep, after two, three or four days you start zoning out. In a complete daze, losing hours at a time. Sometimes you imagine things to move, sometimes you think you hear something, but you are alone. It is terrifying. Sometimes the anxiety is so bad, regardless of how much medication or exercise you do, you cannot write, because the tremors control you. Sometimes I cannot stand colour, movement, noise. Why? Because I simply cannot process it. The scores of pock marks on my skin, when in an effort to control my anxiety I pick my skin. Or bite my nails. Or pull a few hairs out. Sometimes I don’t want to talk, or involve myself in the conversation. Why? Because sometimes it is such a huge struggle to even be in another person’s company, when all you want to do is be swallowed up by the gaping pit of grief.

Mental health is not a choice. It does not discriminate. No matter your colour, your religion, or where you were born. If it wants you, it will take you.

Everyone in their life at some point will have suffered a bout of depression, most people have seen or gone through trauma like a car crash, a marriage breakdown, or the loss of a parent. But life after losing a child, is an indescribable journey of survival. A life sentence.

People move on. But I am stuck, sometimes the quicksand is deeper and the struggle to fight to get out is just that, a fight. On these days, I know that if I call the mental health team, they will come with their scaffolding, they will build it up around me as high as I need it to go. They don’t just build it and leave. They wait. They listen with compassion. They cry when I cry. They don’t try to fix me, knowing that I can’t be fixed, they guide, advise, and aid. And most importantly they do not judge, they understand. They understand that mental health is not a taboo. It is very real.

I saw one particular psychiatrist for months. We had intensive EMDR sessions, followed by psychotherapy. As a doctor he wanted to fix me, make me better, but he knew, he understood, all he could do was help to make the path I am on a little easier, so maybe when I get to the end, it wouldn’t be the end.

Not many of you know but at the end of January I spent time in a secure psychiatric unit, why? Because I had tried to take my life earlier that week, I was found in time. Had I not been found, I would not be here. Several days later I knew what that feeling felt like. The desperation to be with William, it is not a means of escape, it is not me trying to escape the pain. It is about wanting to be with my son. To sit there and actively know that what you are about to do is end your life is an extremely courageous and brave step to take. Knowing there is no returning. No going back. To be at a point, where for whatever conflict is taking place in your head, people need to exit their life, is not a cowardly way out. For some it is the only way out of a lifetime of enduring pain. For some it is a means of escape, who are we to judge, that whatever is happening in their head is tolerable or not? Because I for one moment ask you to put yourself in my shoes. If you lost one of your children, what would be your oblivion?

When I was in that psychiatric unit it was very apparent that I am not mentally ill. I have heard of schizophrenia, and psychotic disorders, split personality disorders, bipolar as I am sure most of you have, you might know someone with one of these mental health conditions. But wow, those people do not need shunning, do not need bullying, those who are very poorly require the most intensive round the clock care that can only be given in a secure unit. I sat with one man. I won’t tell you his real name, but I’ll call him John. John was 35, that is what he said anyway. He shook my hand and said hi, my name is John. I politely replied, that my name was Melissa. Within 15 minutes we had repeated that very small conversation over 30 times. Did I mind? No. John told me about his job in a shop. Told me about what clothes he sold, he told me about the people he worked with, he told me where the shop was. John had been in that unit for 5 months. John didn’t have a job. John didn’t work with anyone. I don’t even know if he was 35 and his name was John. But it didn’t matter, because for those 15 minutes he was happy. Is it his fault that he has been afflicted with a terrible mental health illness? Does he deserve it? Did he ask for it? The answer to all those questions is no. But John didn’t get a choice. Schizophrenia and psychosis picked him. I was there purely for my own safety. John was there because that is where he was living.

So I ask you, when you see me walking down the middle of the high street, my eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep, my hair not brushed because when I left the house I was too busy kissing my son’s casket goodbye to remember to brush my hair, that I am on my way to have more scaffolding put up to help me continue the fight. Without that scaffolding I wouldn’t be here. Without the mental health team I would not be here. I can’t help the way that I feel. I can’t just change the way I feel, it’s very real and all-consuming. Knowing I can make that choice tomorrow prevents me from doing it today. It has worked so far. I have a safety net. Suicide is my safety net. I don’t need judging, I don’t need fixing, I need scaffolding. If you want to judge or fix then please don’t. If you want to scaffold, build away. I do not see it as ending my life, I see it as going to continue it somewhere else with my son, for eternity.

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