Woven inside and outside of everything that resides inside a busy family and bringing up a new baby and time passing by I’m aware, if less vocal, about some of the intangibles of grief.
For so long I was racked and grazed by the contradictions of loss, of having a child but not having him, of being a mother of 5 but 4 or of 6 but 5. I was confused by having a baby who was always a baby but who grew in ghost form alongside us, flitting past me in the shapes of children in the shops or my nephew or plans I had made for him alongside us. I tripped over phrases and words and concepts and each one had to be rehashed, brushing my flesh and breaking the skin as I pushed them and pressed those square peg thoughts into round peg life holes.
It felt like my whole life would be centred around having lost Freddie, that all those complexities would ever grate at my skin and snipe at my state of mind, my mental health, my well being of soul.
When Ben came home, those feelings crescendoed to a sharpened point.
“I wish we could have both,” I whispered, though I knew it was ungrateful not to be contented to have tripped the light fantastic and cheated chance and come home not only with a healthy, living breathing baby but with a boy too. Churlish to wish for him to be identical in looks to Freddie, or be both of them. And Max, normally stoical, whispered “Yes. Me too.”
Whether it is a new and sweetened bitter in the form of fresh denial, or healing, or disbelief at my shallowness, or mindful non-evaluation of reality, I have morphed into a person that astounds me. When reminded that 18 months ago I could not bear to even tweet with the mothers of small boys, it now seems amazing to me I was ever so very broken, so fragile, so endlessly bereft. I hear myself say to the newly baby lost that it will not always hurt so sweetly as it does now and I remember knowing these were mixed words to hear and yet I have to remind myself to be tolerant, to be gentle, to be mindful that my journey is not their journey and their path is just begun.
I went hardened on the outside sometime after the rawness was past but it seems the scar tissue is more softened that I expected it to get. So much so, that even though I *know* this pain, I could get it wrong now, not right. I don’t feel like the right person to say the right words, I don’t even feel like I have all the empathy required to heal or help. I thought myself profoundly changed, but I wonder if I’m not still the occasionally crass person I always was.
I’d like to have been more changed than that. I’d prefer to be better for the experience.
I told my sister today, watching her almost 2 year old son bumbling around, that I am unable to compute that I should have a boy that age. Freddie, in all his growing ages, was real to me until Ben overtook him. They are jumbled and confused and Ben has slipped into the place that shadow boy held and now I am sliding on the edges of something new. I just find it impossible that we went from despair and fear to joy so simply. I just cannot forge the link between my last year self and this moment self. They do not compute.
I made my sister cry and, horribly, having made her cry with the death – the still death but now so much less believable death – of my son, I had no idea what to say. How I can have come through all this and be the one to have no idea what to say, I have no idea. How I can have come through all this and be the one who can’t really imagine my boy as he should be, be the one to whom he is the least tangible, I have no idea.
The little boy should have a big brother as well as a big boy cousin – and I simply cannot make the jump.
When I say it out loud like that, I must admit is doesn’t sound a lot like healed to me either.
I would like to be at the end of this path. I’d like to have done, be past, reached acceptance and understanding and have my completion certificate, my rolled up ribbon passing grade, my photo album and move on. A sudden realisation that I’m currently in another stage of grief – and that it is neither a laudable nor a beautiful one, is not a welcome feeling.