On the day you should be 8 months old, I am with friends, lovely kind friends. I am surrounded by children. In this place are all the children your sisters love and who would have loved you. We are here with the babies who would have been your little gang. There are conversations about breastfeeding and sleepless nights and I ache to have reason to join in. Instead I am the most unwilling possessor of sleep and freedom in the building. There is no warm and wriggly bundle on my lap and no reason to be stiff and tired in the morning.
In an alternate reality I am putting you down to slither off, or handing you to a sister to give me a break. There is another me in this building who is rolling her eyes at thinking one more baby was a good idea and wishing I could stay up all night and wishing I wasn’t so tired.
But I can’t see her. Because I can’t see you. You are gone and so missing from this gathering, so missing from the headcount and missing from the gift list, so absent from the giggle of dressing up for a Christmas dinner which will not be your first, so very much not needing a small plate of finger food or a nappy change or feed at an awkward moment.
The carols are full of Mary’s Boy Child, the baby who ‘no crying he makes’. Not so very different from Merry’s boy child who just never cried. And it hurts. And there is nothing to be done because this is life and this is how it will always be and there is nothing that can be done to hide from it or make it better. I can sit among it and hurt or I can run away and hurt that I have had to run away. No one, no matter how hard they try, can fix it.
You are just not here. Your space was booked and there is a spot by the window in our room where your cot would have been, but there is no you. Not the healthy you, not the damaged you; just no Freddie.
I’m so lonely for you. I’m so lonely for being troubled by you, and wearied by you. I’m so sad not to be wishing I could have 5 minutes of not dashing about keeping up with you. More than ever in my life, I wish I didn’t have 5 minutes to myself.
You are suppose to be here, with me, with all of us. The absent friend.