Today is mine and Max’s anniversary; we’ve been married 12 years. Twelve years ago today, about now, we were enjoying our reception, in the garden of my parents house, thinking wed done an okay job of what we hoped would be the biggest event of our life, the birth of our first child and seeing her through the surgery and difficulties of the first weeks of her life.
Its funny to think we had no idea then, 12 years ago, that 3 more girls were coming and then, having never wanted any boys in all that time, along would come a little boy who would change our life and break our hearts, in the separate and different ways that people break their hearts, each in a way almost unrecognisable from the other. Its funny to think we didn’t know that my mum and dad would implode as a couple only 12 years later. Funny to think we didn’t know we’d one day hold a child while he died, funny to think we had no idea that we’d see that almost as easy in comparison to some of the depths and troughs of the previous 4 years.
The oddest thing, I find, about the death of a child, is all the thinking it makes you do. Plenty of people, I suppose, hit times in their 30’s where they shake off some old, consider some new, begin to have some concepts all of their own. Certainly I have. Since Freddie died I have thought endlessly about what I believe in, what I don’t believe in. I suppose it is inevitable that death of something so small and precious and lovely would make you question the world. Some people turn to God, some people turn away from God. Some people, like myself, crystallise feelings that were edging ever closer to them.
For me, I think I’ve come to believe in everything and nothing. Id already shaken off the religion of my upbringing and started towards a faith, or a belief, of my own. I find that Freddie’s death, but perhaps more importantly his life in me and short life outside of me, has made some of those feelings clearer. I’ve started to believe in the concepts that I was only exploring. None of them seem particularly extra-ordinary to me. Some people think of them as God’s plan. I think I see them as fate but not fate that has a gloom or a dread quality to it, more as a thread of light. These things were always coming, they were always there, just waiting to happen. Whatever choices I made, I made because they were the ones I would make.
If I could explain that in any way that might make sense, I think I feel as if the parts of my life were laid out like threads in a half made piece of lace, or some clever type of weaving. I’ve started to imagine my life as lots of pieces of string all laid in apparent haphazard fashion on top of one another and around each other. Gradually each piece of string is pulled from one end and slowly, slowly, the threads tighten around one another, pulling into an intricate design. What started as a mess of threads, ends as a pattern, a complete, solid, interlinked mat of preplanned design.
I think I have always felt that I was going to lose a child. I believe that when I watched my friends mother lose her son all those years ago, somehow a part of the weaving got pulled on and twisting, made a piece of the pattern ahead of time. When I’ve fretted irrationally about things happening to the girls if I let them go to the shops, or out of sight or walk by a road when they might suddenly run away, I feel as if I was just getting a pull on one piece of string, one I knew was there but didn’t know when that part of the pattern would manifest. I think perhaps 4 years ago I went into meltdown feeling that it had finally happened. Maybe, maybe, I made it happen because some part of my forward concious knew it was coming and thought it was now.
It feels like I’ve had lots of warnings, lots of preparation and now that it has happened it is, in bizarre fashion, almost an anticlimax. As if my life is just saying ah yes, I’ve been waiting for you. A few years ago I had some counselling and I told her that I felt that Id been waiting for something bad to happen all my life. Has it happened now? she asked and I said yes. And actually, I still think I believe that. This has not been the worst thing. It has been the most terrible thing, certainly, but perhaps I got it all out of my system 4 years ago. This time at least, I’m awake and aware enough to do the right thing for the girls and for Max. Whatever I had to learn, I learned it. Not to lose sight of the huge reality that a person, an actual person, is missing from our family and is really, truly, terribly dead and that we all miss him bitterly, the reality is that we’ve had some dark times already and dark, hopeless, lonely times are truly awful. Were grieving just now inside light and love and hope and kindness – and that does help. Even recognising its truth helps.
Whatever else death does, it has made me think and it has also made me change. For the first time in my life, something terrible has happened and I want to not break down. I want to not need supporting. I want to be alone with it when I ask to be. I want to not hurt anyone with it. I want to look to the other people first. I don’t want to cry in front of people. I don’t want to be depressed or a mess or angry. I care about the other people around me, more really, than i care about myself. I’m struck, painfully, that maybe I’m just here for the ride. I’m struck, unbearably, that Freddie perished because fate knew we would not last if I carried babyloss alone for the rest of our life. That the only chance for all of us as a family was if everyone here knew how this feels. That maybe they are learning this so that I don’t have to be alone. And if there is any chance that could be true, the very least I can do is not make it worse for them all than it has to be. If it could be true that the only reason for that lovely, beautiful, gorgeous, wanted, loved, adored little boy was so that all of us would always love one another, then I have to make that count.
Today we have been married 12 years. We are so different, Max and I, and I have no idea what I would do without him. We do trouble very differently, grief very differently, sadness very differently, stress very differently. The only thing I can offer him right now is to not ask more of him than he has to give, not force him to do this my way, or resent him for doing it his way. Hopefully, I’m managing to do that just about well enough.