A year without my baby. Time has gone so fast yet impossibly slow. But I am still here, still breathing, still Sebby's mummy.
That sick feeling. An intake of breath, sending chills down your spine.
Their hand slips from yours in a crowded shopping centre; they dart behind the trolley in a car park; the silence after you call their name once, twice, three times at bath time.
Your baby, gone.
But how sweet the relief, when that wave washes over. When you hear their cry or those tremendous words “I’m here, mummy”, their hand back in yours. You are whole again.
But I am no longer whole.
My baby did leave me; his chubby hand no longer mine to hold.
One year ago, today, he died.
The tremendous loss often leaves me without a goal, even a small one. The sadness can overwhelm my mind so easily.
Those 365 days have passed in eternity and at the speed of light.
Those first big days were hard. Birthdays, Father’s Day, Christmas, Mother’s Day; but they weren't the worst.
It’s the small moments that sting the most.
His friends thrive and grow every day; they are walking now, stringing words together; they run up hills and speed down slides; they toddle on scooters and splash in the shallows.
These small triumphs fill me equally with love and misplaced jealousy.
I watch from the sideline, these parents who don’t understand just how lucky they are to take pride in the toddler joys.
The void where a child once was is deep and deafening. No one can describe what their life was like before they had their children, and it doesn’t just revert as if they were never there once they are gone.
Every day the hurt is palpable. The strength that sadness can take from you is astonishing. No one hears the agonised screams in a grieving parents mind.
To rise any day is a triumph; to return to a life of domesticity, remarkable; to find any peace, is the greatest achievement I will wear in this life.
Though I feel as if my wounds are physical, the world goes on without pause. I smile with grace and say I am doing ok, but I won’t ever be ok again.
I made it though; we made it – my husband and me. Our vows “for better or worse” tested only 18 months into our marriage. They say that this loss will challenge a union like nothing else, but our pain fused us ever closer; a mighty feat in these stormy seas.
We mourn together; we grieve as one. Our creation lost to the world but to us, alone.
Our son was a delight in life and, in death, he is too. His photos adorn most rooms in our home, his eyes twinkling hello as we walk by.
He died healthy, thriving and happy. The day before, so normal, but so fateful. His family gave him the last hurrah: a date with his aunties, his twin cousin and a bowl of hot chips; fun with daddy before dinner; a thousand cuddles; he fell asleep in my arms.
There was never a more cherubic sleeping face.
This memory of my angel asleep in my arms is what I hold on to as I go to sleep each night. If only my sweet dreams ended in his excited voice waking me each morning.
ONE FULL LAP AROUND THE SUN
When a day is significant, we can usually remember “this time last year”, particularly in the timeline of a child. Last year, four days ago, he was in my lap playing peek-a-boo, he was sitting in the backyard watching me blow bubbles, he was laughing at himself in the mirror, he was here.
But tomorrow and forever more, my “this time last year” does not include my first born. This time last year, I was already in agony.
As I look ahead, the stretch of life before me can feel mountainous, some days facing the world is inconceivable. But rise I must, thrive I do because his little brother demands it.
I was 17 weeks pregnant when my son died. So when our new son came into this world, love and grief collided with atmospheric pressure.
From the womb, he brought us to euphoria. He brought us joy he will never comprehend, healing that no physician could ever prescribe.
Soon after our son died I wrote: “I feel despair at the life he will not lead – his firsts are all gone: tooth, crawl, word, step all vanished into the ether”. Watching my new baby thrive and reach for his milestones, make these losses cut like paper each day. Minuscule but still painful.
THERE IS NO CURE FOR SADNESS
People have surprised me, in good ways and bad. Some relative strangers came out of the woodwork and have become the greatest support in our grief. Others, very close, have floundered and brought negative, unnecessary energy into our circle.
Those who are strong enough to help us heal, use words and hugs and their time. They know that nothing can take this pain away or relieve the weight of this burden. But by just being available, they have become assets on this expedition back to ‘normal’.
The most common sentiments of “I don’t know how you are surviving” or “you are so strong; I couldn’t do it” taken with salt because there is no other option. Being strong and surviving because you must, are very different states of being.
It is momentous to lose a child. The burden of loss often leaves me without direction or concentration.
But I am not alone. My loss is colossal but not extraordinary.
The members of this silent club have a few things in common.
We walk with our child’s face in our vision — not just etched in peripheral, but bright and glaring right in front of our eyes.
We want to talk about our child: our absent sons, our invisible daughters. We want nothing more than for you to say their name: tell me you saw him in a dream; that she lit up your backyard at dusk.
Don’t be afraid.
Their name is the most important word in our glossary.
There is no closing to this chapter; no answers to be found. The circle that is life and death visited my home early, as it unexpectedly does.
My beautiful, enchanting, delightful little boy will be missing from my life forever.
But the footnote to this trauma is that I will carry on. I won’t let sadness diminish any light that my son brought to my life. I continue to learn how to seek comfort in the sorrow; to find the companion in my grief; to live my life well for him.
Because, how lucky was I to have him at all.