Today was Freddie’s funeral, the first part of it anyway, as we plan a memorial with friends and family later. We didn’t feel this part would be helpful for the girls to attend and felt if we were caring for them, it wouldn’t be helpful for us either so decided to have a private service. Somehow the idea of accommodating the needs of others felt too hard, a service for a baby almost nobody met felt wrong and family without the girls also felt wrong. Initially it was just going to be just Max and i but in the end several SCBU nurses asked to come and we invited the midwife and 2 doctors, plus one very special friend who has a foot in the hospital camp and also in our world. Otherwise i somehow wanted it to be people i never had to meet again if i chose not to; there are so many people who were part of my pregnancy, specifically my lovely doula, who i do want to see again but who i associate with life, not death. The people who came felt very right in the end.
There are going to be far too few posts on this blog about Freddie and in time even the posts of sadness and reflection will fade away. We’ve had so much support from people on here that it feels right to do a sort of virtual funeral and so i thought i would record what was said and spoken and played. It was a very beautiful service and i got more peace from it than i thought i would. The chaplain from the hospital was very sympathetic to our wishes and kept it spiritual without being overtly Christian and we were very grateful for how special he, and the people who came, made it. Various little parts of the service had been contributed to by my friends, online/real life friends who know me inside out and back to front and who have held me and Max together in the last few weeks.
The music was sent to me by my friend Sarah and was just perfect. It was “Song for Kim” by Nick and Anita Haigh. I listened to it lots when i was writing my letter to Freddie and lots yesterday; all those times i sobbed to listen to it but today it calmed me and helped me get through saying goodbye to our baby.
I spent all Sunday searching for a poem; i felt there just had to be the perfect one out there but i couldn’t find it. Then i happened upon one called Early Death and with the help of friends, i rewrote it to suit Freddie and his short life. It felt perfect.
He slipped away like morning dew
Before the sun was high;
So brief his time, he scarcely knew
The meaning of a sigh.
As round the rose its soft perfume,
Sweet love around him floated;
Admired he slept – while mortal doom
Crept on, unfeared, unnoted.
Love was his guardian Angel here,
Though Love to Death resigned him;
But in our thoughts and hearts he’s near
And seeking there, we find him.
I’d hoped to read this myself but from the minute i saw the car draw up with him inside, i knew i couldn’t. I was pretty much undone from the start. How Max kept his composure, including carrying him in, i have no idea. He was amazing. He wrote and read his own words to Freddie and has allowed me to put them here.
If I could speak to you now this is what Iâ€™d say. I am so sad and sorry that you did not get to live the life that you should have done. And what a life you would have had. No parents could have given you more love and support than your mother and me. No brother could have been better loved and cared for than you would have been by your four sisters, Frances, Maddy, Amelie and Josie. You would never have been short of someone to play with, to talk with, to be cuddled by, and to be inspired by.
When I think back to your short life I know there was terrible worry and despair but it only the good times that I can remember now. I remember the joy and comfort I got from seeing you and from touching you. I remember seeing how much you drew comfort by being held by your mother and by me, how you would relax and look like you felt safe and where you should be. I remember the joy your sisters felt in bringing you presents and telling you about them. I remember that short time when you opened your eyes and looked into mine, that moment we shared together, father and son.
Now we will carry on with our lives to make sure that we make the most of the precious time that we have together, to live out our hopes and dreams, and to be a good family. You will always be a loved member of our family. You will always be our beautiful baby boy, our Freddie.
I love him for always seeing the glass half full, for being able to remember the good and special. He inspires me with his ability to do that.
Finally the chaplain read my letter to Freddie. I found this so hard to write; i certainly couldn’t have read it out.
This is not how it is supposed to be. We were not supposed to end our nine months together with you hurtling out into nothing, to a place where the very last person who could help you was me. You were not supposed to live your life barely held by us, barely awake and enduring endless needles and tests and tubes. You were not supposed to live your life with my tears raining down on you.
I want to tell you how it should have been. I want to have the time to let you feel my arms first, my breast for food and comfort, my voice for night after night as you learned to live . I want to be the first one to have dressed you and cared for you and changed your nappy. I want to show your beautiful, peaceful face to everyone and laugh at how, as it turns out, i rather like being mummy to a boy after all. I want to tell our story proudly, looking down at you as you sleep in my arms. I wanted to see you walk in front of me, holding your sisters’ hands. I wanted to see you run and hear you shout.
I wanted to see you loved and spoiled by the sisters who were ready and waiting to adore you. I wanted to tell you that you had Amelie’s mouth, Josie’s nose, Maddy’s face, Fran’s eyes and Daddy’s dimpled chin until you yelled back that actually you were Freddie, not little parts of everyone else in the family. I wanted to hear you in a temper, in a rage and laughing and loving life.
I never thought that motherhood could be reduced to being desperate to see you open your eyes, or being grateful forever for the times that you did. The look in your eyes when you did has been scalded into my heart.
I want to tell you that you were the most adorable bump, who seemed to know when i needed to hear from you. I want to remember every kick and every wriggle, how you made me laugh when you back flipped in a one day and made me shriek out loud. I want to tell you that you gave me not a moments trouble, that i loved all that time i had with you, that even late night hiccups and the heartburn and that even though i worried ceaselessly about you, i didn’t begrudge you a moment of it. I wanted to tell you that you might have come last in the family, 5 years after the others but that you were the most considered, the most planned, the most thought about of all our babies. You were a most precious and wanted full stop, one we had changed everything about our future to accommodate.
I want you to know that even though we did not force you to stay with us, that was not because we loved you less. I wanted a miracle for you but i also wanted what was best for you – and from the very first moment of your life, what was best for you was not what i had planned. I want to tell you that i can remember every cuddle we had together and treasure them all. That every move you made seemed like magic and every sound a song. I want to say out loud that i saw you hear my voice and turn to me, felt you squeeze my finger, watched you enjoying being held and that those were your milestones, precious, tiny ones that were just for us. I want you to know that you gave me something precious, that i will always remember, but that 11 days was not long enough for me to thank you for it.
Freddie – little boy – you will always be our child, loved and wanted, our little son. You will always be our baby boy, our fifth child, the one who made us 7.