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.

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When OK is not OK

It’s a mask you know, one that I put on when I get to the checkout to pay for the shopping, when I go into the office, when I slip out of bed in the morning, that is, when I can bring myself to even get out of bed. You see, when I take the mask off my world is still at a stand still, nothing has changed underneath, when I wake up I still ask myself “why am I still here?”, today is no different to yesterday. No day gets better or any easier to live with, and as time passes my new life becomes more of a reality. Each day, with practise it becomes easier to hide the sorrow behind the smile, hide the emptiness behind the meaningless tasks, superficial tasks that now replace what was once a hectic, flurry of nappy changing, organising little clothes for nursery, brushing tiny little teeth, fitting together the wooden train track for the hundredth time on a lazy Sunday because William liked to take the pieces apart and put them back in the box, to only tip them back out two seconds later. Tasks that made me ‘mum’, tasks that I revelled in and couldn’t get enough of, no matter how many times I repeated myself they were never tedious or annoying, because that’s what mum is, that’s what you sign up for.

When I found out that a tiny little person was invading my belly, growing into my beautiful, perfect William, I knew that no matter what I would never be alone, I would always have a constant in my life, someone to love and love me back. Someone who needed me, gave me purpose and shaped my life. You see, William did that, probably without realising. William gave me such unconditional love, and needed me so much. I could look deep into those trusting brown eyes and know I would never be alone. I know I am not alone, William’s dad, Paul, is an integral part of my life that I wouldn’t  be without, but the love your child gives you, the love William gave me, with every look, with every kiss, with every touch was a love with no boundaries, limitless and endless. I miss this love, the warm, wholesome love that makes you feel fuzzy inside.  I miss everything about William, and having that outlet for my love. As the days succumb to the nights, I miss him more and more, like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Now just over 12 weeks from the day that my world stood still, nothing has changed. The minutes passing only make my stomach churn more and more, knowing that this is reality. This is life. From the day that William died we were thankful to be cocooned by family and friends. Wrapped up in love. Friends helping with day-to-day tasks like cooking and cleaning, taking you to appointments because you can’t concentrate long enough to drive yourself. And most importantly, those people who are just ‘there’ not saying, or doing anything, but just there, so when you break someone is there to pick you up, when you want to cry, someone will cry with you, when you want to be angry, someone will listen. But inevitably everyone else’s lives have to return to normal, people are hurt, people carry on grieving, but their worlds haven’t been turned upside down. Their lives, although tinged with sadness haven’t changed. We have to re-build our new lives, a way of life we did not choose to have.

So, over the last couple of weeks I have been into work a few times, although under no pressure to do so I know at some point I have to, I have no choice, I have bills to pay that won’t pay themselves. Being in the office doesn’t bother me, my colleagues are friends and two are William’s Godfather’s, but it is hard. Every time I walk through the door I brace myself for the question how are you? in its many forms. I already have a stock answer ‘you know, up and down’. Knowing full well the person enquiring really has no idea how to deal with my response should I be completely honest. No, I’m not ok. My son is dead. I feel no more ‘ok’ now than I did the day he died. When will I ever be ok? When can ‘this’ ever be ok? It can’t. I spent yesterday crying when I discussed the muscle biopsy from William’s post-mortem,  not crying because he’s given me a mother’s day card he made for me at nursery. I know that everyone asks because they genuinely care, I really know that, that is why I have a stock answer. The real answer is exhausting, exhausting to process, exhausting to vocalise.

Although I am not under pressure there are certain expectation’s in society that at some point you are ok, moving forwards, living with it or whatever society calls it. But when is that? You might see me in the supermarket or walking down the street but really I still only want to curl up In a ball on the sofa, but I can’t. I don’t want to get out of bed, but I have to. I don’t want to talk to anyone, but I have no choice. Life is happening, because I have no choice, because it is happens around me. I am continuing to live even though William isn’t. I get up and I put the mask on, the mask that allows me to be a bystander in life. The mask that really hides the grief. The gut feeling when you wake up in the morning and you can hear the silence, instead of being woken up by the sweet sound of babbling. Standing at William’s bedroom window alone when I close his curtains for the night, staring up at the stars and saying a prayer, not laying my tired little boy in his bed and kissing him goodnight. Walking out of his nursery, my eyes stinging with tears, rather than gently whispering I love you in his ear. Every tiny little detail is played out in my head, every scenario like a video player stuck in one moment of time, no matter how much time passes, how many smiles or laughs you see, I will always be part of the club, the club that no-one wants to join, the worst club anyone can ever be a part of.

A club that I will be in, forever.