Right where I am: 1 year, 2 months.

Right at the beginning, I promised myself I would not stray down the path of marking moments and counting days. Not again. Not for Freddie. I wanted him to be more than dates and more than grief. So I can’t tell you, won’t tell you, how many days it is since he was born, or since he died. It is 1 year, 2 months. Give or take what you count as life, or death.

Back in the beginning I said that one day even the posts on here about him would fade. Recently I’ve baulked at categorising the things I write as being him, his name. I started a new one. Grief. I might go back and replace them. I have started to wish that he is not always written about as pain and despair and loss and grief. I want his name to be what he was and is. There can’t be much of is, it’s true, I’ll never write about a first lost tooth or first steps or write his words, or watch him read. My fifth child will never learn to read. Where I am right now might be described as that, this overwhelming, overbearing sense of loss for what he should have been, could have been, should have been. But where I am not, now, is still seeing all my grief as being what Freddie is.

One year, 2 months; I can’t remember how he felt, or what he looked like. I have video that I never watch because the sound of longing in my voice for him to be a miracle is too unbearable to hear and turning off the sound and not hearing his little voice is unthinkable. I have photos that I mostly do not look at. I touch his little nose on one picture less often. I say his name a little less and I can navigate conversations about how many children I have without mentioning him. I just scream his loss in my head instead. I can do it silently. I’ve learned. People don’t want to hear about dead babies. It just makes them run away, querying the weirdness that you are not over it in an aghast fashion.

The ache in my arms has gone and the utter wrench of the love I had for him, that hung like tar and feathers around me, that has dimmed too. I know it. I can say it. “I had a little boy. He died.” I’ve got a phrase and a turn of speech. “He didn’t breathe when he was born and although he got better for a while, he died when he was 11 days old.” They slide off my tongue like lines I learned in a play. I can say them. I don’t believe them, they are not really me. Just lines.

It’s a strange compliment, but you are a true love of my life indeed if I cry before you. If I tell you how I really feel, knowing you will hate it, knowing it will make you uncomfortable, knowing you will cry and feel bad too and not know what to say or do, that’s because I love you. That’s because I trust you. If I trust you in person with the gaping and horrific wound that is this place on my chest without my son, that’s something. Most people get the lines and the blankness. Most people get “I’m okay. I’m fine. You know, okay.” I don’t speak, I don’t ask for help or ask for comfort until I am so low that I can barely lift myself from the carpet. I never understood why people end up on the floor when they cry. It seemed unnecessarily dramatic. Now I know. Gravity changes when you lose a child; every step is like having feet that weigh a thousand stone, and the Great Pyramids and Colossus and Everest heaped at the nape of your neck. If you have children already, looking, always watching, you have to do every day with head up and feet moving briskly.

I don’t like people to look at me now, just now, caught in the depths of depression that infertility after loss has brought on me. I find it hard to look people in the eye. I don’t like knowing that people are beginning to lose patience, beginning to be tired of my grief. And here is the horrible thing. In the shocking aftermath, you don’t really need the flowers and visits and ears and sympathy. It can’t help. You need it now, when the world has yawed and stretched around you and nothing makes sense and no one can hear and even if they shouted for you, you can’t hear anyway.

If there is a literary analogy, I am Frodo on the slopes of Mount Doom.

The best way I can describe myself right now is like a landscape. I’m stood on a plain, rocky, barren and empty. There is white noise, but no birds and my eyes are full of grit and my clothing and footwear inadequate. I know where I need to get to, it’s on the other side of a range of mountains that look impossibly high, even from this great distance. Between me and them, before I can even begin to climb, are rivers and dust and rocks and bog and marsh and unknown horrible stench and cloying dirt. But I know I’ll die here, so I know I have to move. And there isn’t a soul anywhere, no one to help, no one to lead, no one to tell me where to go or how to get over the obstacles.

The most horrible truth is I know that it is only that I see it that way. I know it is green, with water and beauty and I know the people are there but I can’t see them. No one left me, I just sealed a glass cloche of infinite proportions above my head and brought down the filters of depression and grief. I know people haven’t walked away, I know I’ve pushed them.

But I haven’t a fucking clue what to do about that.

And still, nestled in my heart and taunting my arms is this beautiful boy. Beyond the grief of barrenness and other babies and time and emptiness and loneliness, there is just this beautiful boy. For whom I am charged with living life.

Written for Angie’s Right Where I Am project. Go and look at it, the links. Dear gods… all those mothers.

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  1. Maggie says

    I always read sweetheart, and if I were in the same room as you I would be happy (“happy?”) to listen as often as you needed to say things. I hope you know that this is true. (((xXx)))

  2. Jacqui says

    Whilst I have never lost a child, even after eight years, I still miss my husband and, at certain times, I feel bowed down. Anniversaries, my son’s wedding this weekend… I’m still reading your words and still marvelling at your eloquence in expressing your grief. I think, though obviously could not be sure, that you are expressing the words that others wish they could find. I don’t know if they are helping you, but they do help others. Take care of Max, the girls and most of all, yourself. They all need you.

  3. says

    I always read to. I don’t always comment cos I have nothing constructive to say except my heart goes out to you, I cry along when reading and will never, ever tire of your grief. xx

  4. says

    Merry, nothing I say here can possibly do justice to the raw, breathtaking words of your post. I hate that we are meant to be over this, I hate it.
    Always thinking of you, sending love and always remembering Freddie.

  5. says

    I understand not wanting to count the days. But the anniversaries seem so endless and sometimes you just have to reach out because you are in agony. I always read your posts even if I don’t comment.

    I understand the words. When people ask me how many kids I have I always claim Calypso. I say ‘I have three, but one died.” And then people follow it with ‘I’m so sorrys’ but that’s not why I mentioned her. Just because she died and just because Freddie died doesn’t mean they aren’t our children. I want her to live and to do that, people need to know she existed.

    Please know that if you ever need to talk we’re here and we are listening. Always

  6. says

    I always read as well. I know you don’t know me but I just wanted to say I think of you and your family often and send a lot of love. I can’t imagine what it’s like and admire you so much for your strength.

  7. says

    Oh Merry. It is the thought of that video and the sound of the hope in your voice, oh that just breaks my heart. And that feeling of saying lines learned for a play, I think I know that feeling myself. I can say them but it feels like someone else is reciting them, very far away.

    I never understood why people end up on the floor when they cry. It seemed unnecessarily dramatic.

    I used to think exactly the same thing. But it got the better of me, that horrible floor. I’m sorry you’ve found yourself here.

    Thinking of you and your beautiful, beautiful boy. It can be harder to remember that they are more than grief at times. Thank you for reminding me. xo

  8. katyboo says

    oh love. I am so very sorry. It is utterly rubbish. Nothing to be done but what you are doing. Think as the abscess as some of the poison and hurt coming out. I get them too at times of extreme stress and depression and it always helps me to think that I am releasing something toxic, even if it isn’t very pleasant at the time. Much love.x

  9. says

    Love to you, as always, Merry. They poke holes in our hearts, our children do, holes where flowers grow, even in grief, even when we cannot believe that they are there … Write and talk about Freddie just as much and as often or as little as you need, Merry. He is your son.


  10. says

    Thank you so much for your comments. I can’t tell you what it means to get them on the dark days. There is nothing so bleak as silence at these times, it feels as if people are turning away saying “again?” It isn’t possible to tell myself that isn’t true. Thank you all. You have lifted me.

  11. says

    OH Merry. I never turn away saying ‘again’. I just wish I could say something other than ((Hugs)). so inadequate, but there isn’t really anything ‘good’ to say :(

    a year is such a short time (in some ways, an ubearable long time in others i dare say) I don’t understand how anyone could expect you to be ‘over’ it, or whatever… xxxx

  12. says

    Heartbreakingly true. All of it. I’m so sorry you’ve had to come to know this horrid pain. I wish so very much you had no reason to be here.
    I was nodding along to all of this. I’ve had so many of the same thoughts, especially about flowers and cards in those early weeks. It is the months and years later where it feels so lonely and cold out in grief-land. And the words that slip off my tongue now, so easily. “I had a little girl, she was stillborn at nearly 41 weeks”. It is so easy to say. I don’t even skip a beat.
    Missing Freddie with you, so very much. Glad you took part in this project.

  13. says

    No one is turning away from you, but when people are grieving other people just dont know how to help, so it comes across as not caring. But people are here and no one is impatient with your grief. Honestly, though, M. If you put all this in a book for grieving mothers I’m sure it would help – there’s nothing quite so isolating as thinking no one else understands how you feel.

  14. Liz says

    Out there is a parallel world, a quantum place, a dream… We can’t go there but it runs alongside us and our children grow up there happy with the mothers we know are joyful echos of our hopes.

  15. says

    They slide off my tongue like lines I learned in a play. I can say them. I don??t believe them, they are not really me. Just lines.

    I have lines too. They come so easily to me now, that sometimes I find it difficult to talk about Iris in a genuine way because the lines are too familiar.


    • says

      I know just what you mean. And so, in a way, we become the thing we hate people thinking we are. The smooth glibness of the lines makes people think we’ve come to terms with it and then wonder why others aren’t not over it like we are. Hm :(

  16. says

    I sometimes wonder if I will ever be the mother who can think in terms of the enrichment my child has brought my life rather than sadness and despair. I don’t think anybody wants that, but how do you change it? I wish I knew for both of us. Heartbreaking words and I thank you for sharing Freddie with us. Strength and love on the conception after a loss. I know that struggle well.

  17. says

    Oh, Merry. I’m thinking of you and your beautiful Freddie and wishing he was safe in your arms now. Thank you for sharing where you are so honestly. When you write about people beginning to lose patience – that feels so familiar. I remember at around the one-year mark really hating how disconnected my feelings were from the way almost everyone around me thought I should be feeling. Sending love.

  18. Sara says

    I struggle with this wish: “I have started to wish that he is not always written about as pain and despair and loss and grief.” The pain and despair and loss and grief are so much and so needy in and of themselves; it’s hard sometimes to salvage the good out of all of that. Thank you for sharing, thinking of you and Freddie and love and joy and hope.

  19. says

    Merry, what a powerful, poignant post.

    The thought of your video makes me draw breath. I can only imagine the joy, horror, difficulty in watching something like that.

    I remember the first time I ever dropped to the floor, crying. I was in the kitchen and somethign came on the radio and that was it, I just crumpled. I remember even at the time thinking how melodramatic I would look if somewhere to see me but it just happened like that. The weight of the grief just bowled into me and down I went.

    The things our children will never do really got me too. Our eldest lost his first tooth just a few weeks after Emma died. My first thought was not excitement for him, it was “this will never happen for Emma.” And those thoughts still hurt so much.

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