Christmas Cards

Just a short one, probably a depressing one too, sorry for that.

It all started with the Christmas cards arriving.

My first card this year, ironically came from my dad’s wife, it hit hard. 

Suddenly it’s arrival made me realise that is it for the ‘daughter’ cards. Those beautiful, heartfelt, well chosen, well thought out cards that only a parent buys, in fact my mum would buy two (or three some year so). In its place comes a card not in the hand that I see my cards penned. A card from a multi-pack. A card that probably found her facing her own thoughts of Dad on this first Christmas without him. A card that I’m sure she struggled to write and to me was bordering on devoid of all emotion. I’m not blaming her for this.

I hate the fact Cancer has taken both my parents from me, I hate the fact that Christmas is hugely lacking with both of them gone. I haven’t spent a Christmas with my father for quite some years but I always spoke to him on the day and enjoyed buying him gifts (more so after Noah’s arrival, being able to share our love of photography with a beautiful [in my mind] image of my boy). This year his wife requested that presents wouldn’t be sent either way, a request that I’m sure will stand from here on in. I find myself battling with this. I want to send her something because she has been part of our lives for 26 years, she was my dad’s wife, she is family, but I also feel I should respect her wishes. I find myself browsing my Dad’s Amazon wish list and feeling robbed, whilst doing this I found my Mum’s, untouched since 2007 and feel absolutely devastated.

Whilst trying to buy a card for D from Noah I’ve stared at the Mum and Dad cards on the shelves in the card shops and had to hold back the sobs knowing that I’m looking at something that I will never buy for my own parents and that hurts. Hurts beyond belief. I remember now thinking it such a chore finding the ‘right’ card, now I’d find it so easy. I’d buy the fucking lot if it meant that they would read them and realise how much I loved them, how much I respected them, how much I thought of them, how much I miss them.

I’m sat here at home alone listening to the gentle hum of the baby monitor whilst D is on his works do, quietly dreading Christmas this year but also aware that Noah is starting to get excited about it. I want, more than anything, for Noah to be totally unaware of my hang ups and feel the pressure of trying to make it extra special as a way of making up for my feelings of lack of enthusiasm. 

I find myself struggling once more and hate it. I know I have more grief coming, more anniversaries, family events, milestones, all without my parents there.

So as I go through the motions of preparing for a Christmas without the love and thought of a parent I think more deeply of those in a similar situation. I’m not ‘alone’ yet I know (especially in my previous line of work) there are so many out there that are and realise how much that must hurt at this time of year. I just hope they have atleast received one card with a heartfelt thought behind the words written in it.

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Baby Loss Awareness

My partner messaged me from yet another of his hotel restaurants to let me know, whilst holding back tears, that it’s baby loss awareness week this week and it got me thinking. Thinking about awareness weeks… not about my baby losses because I think about them every day and no doubt will do until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil.

I wonder who decides when these weeks will be and whether they ever really make anyone more ‘aware’ of the subject matter or whether it’s just a week that makes those who are directly affected remember with more vigour.

I’ve found myself thinking more deeply into my own losses this week, thinking more about the four beautiful babies I never held but still love with all my heart, wondering more deeply about who they would be and thinking over, once more, why we had to suffer these losses. It’s an awareness week yet I don’t see anyone talking about it. I find that when I bring the subject up with a lot of people their eyes glaze over and their eyes wander, I can almost hear them thinking “here she goes again, how am I going to get away” (I’m not talking close friends here).  I find the only time you’re allowed to talk about your own losses after a certain time is when someone else has lost, and even then only if they ask to hear your story directly because they’re going through their own hell and (quite rightly) don’t need to listen to yours too, but from experience it’s nice to know that you’re not alone and it happens to more people than you are aware of.

I find this doesn’t only happen when discussing baby loss, but any loss and have come to the conclusion that we just don’t like to talk about grief in whatever parcel it’s delivered in. There seems to be a period of time where you are ‘allowed’ to express your feelings and grieve and no matter who you talk to they will listen, or at least politely pretend to. Then suddenly, and it’s pretty soon I think, you’re not allowed to talk about it anymore. People get bored of listening and if you persist in mourning your loss you stop seeing these people because they just can’t deal with your misery.

I remember being told on a number of occasions, on the loss of my mother and then subsequent miscarriages and then the recent loss of my father, that I shouldn’t ‘dwell on it’ or ‘wallow’ anymore… As if I choose to feel this cutting grief, as if I enjoy it, as if I’m purposefully prolonging my own agony, as if I should just forget they ever existed.

So as I light my ‘Wave of Light’ candle for my four babies that weren’t given a chance I think of everyone else who has suffered the loss of a baby, or a pregnancy and give them strength and hope that the future does brighten. I want to tell them that their feelings matter, regardless of how many years have passed since their loss and that they are not alone. 

I spent half an hour of the WoL hour sitting on the edge of my bed listening to and looking at our beautiful boy as he slept peacefully and thanked the universe for him, aware that others aren’t as lucky as we are. 

So perhaps that’s the idea of awareness weeks such as this, not necessarily raising the awareness of those that haven’t suffered, but to make the affected aware that they are not alone.

  

Goodbye Summer

Wow, it’s September. The summer has gone, the Autumn (proven by the incredible plunge in temperature) is here once again. Summer seems to have passed me by and I struggle to remember a nice, sunny day of it. Did we have any, or is it my darkened mind that has tarnished their memory?

I love summer, always have. I hate the rain, I hate the grey, I hate the wind, the sun is where I find my happiness, it’s my power source but as we approach another long and bleak Cornish winter I feel I haven’t had my batteries fully charged with what I need to get through it.

I hated this summer mind, hated it like no other. All it seems to have brought to my door is more grief, loss, disappointment, fear, stress, anxiety and rage and for once I’m looking forward to winter as the beginning of winter means a new year is just around the corner.

I find myself writing this the day after my baby was due to be born and so much has happened that I nearly forgot that this had happened to us too, this that I thought would be the worst thing to happen to us this year, so forgive me for this rather maudlin post.

‘They’ say things happen for a reason but I struggle to contemplate what the reason is for so much heartache to fall on my doorstep this year. 

I’m not a bad person. In fact I’d go as far as saying that I’m a fairly nice person, a caring person, a fair person, a tolerant person. So if things happen for a reason, please can someone enlighten me as to what that reason is? Because I can’t see it right now. 

I’m not going to say Why Me? Because, quite frankly, why not me? What makes me so bloody special that I shouldn’t have a hard time more than the person next to me. I just struggle to know why all my babies couldn’t be with me now instead of just the one, special, precious one that was strong enough to stay with us. Why both my parents have been taken away from us so they are unable to witness my beautiful boy grow into an adult and give him the magical memories grandparents provide. Why we have been dogged with such bad luck where other matters are concerned. So to you people who say it, please give me the reason and if you can’t, then stop saying it to people when dreadful things happen to them because it doesn’t help. The saying should be, quite simply… “Things happen” and that’s the end of it.

So as I say goodbye to Summer and hello to Autumn I hope, beyond hope that our run of bad luck has come to an end and that the changing of the leaves will also bring the changing of our fortunes. As those leaves fall away from their branches and begin to become one with the earth once more, our misfortune will join them and leave the hope of a brighter, more fortunate future.

Goodbye

Today we said goodbye to you for the last time Daddy. It broke our hearts. You would have been so proud of the turn out and I hope you could see how many people came to see you on your way, pay their respects and celebrate your life.

I was so proud to hear how many people you had touched, how many people admired you, how many people respected you. I loved hearing their anecdotes of you stemming right back to your Chellaston days and through your RAF days, Nigerian days and, more latterly, your Rotary days.

Simon did you proud by reading that poem. I’m not sure how he held it together, but he just about managed it. Andrea was amazingly strong and a comfort to us.

Thank you for mentioning mum in your thanks and thank you for your words about us. I hope we continue to make you, and mum proud of us. If I am a mere fraction of the people you both were then I shall be happy.

I hope you’re having a good ‘catch up’ with mum up there, I miss you both so very much and will do for as long as I live.

So goodbye Daddy, the world has lost one of it’s true gentlemen and I have lost my idol.

  

The G Word

On the 31st July 2015, my darling, funny, intelligent, witty, kind Daddy lost his fight with Multiple Myeloma and passed away peacefully at St Giles Hospice, Whittington.

He was transferred to the hospice exactly a week before and we were all called on the Saturday to get up there ASAP if we wanted to see him. We all did. I got there at about midday, my brothers were already there and I found dad very unwell but at least conscious and talking, if what sporadically.

I spent until the Monday with him by which time his speech was less and apnoea lengthening. We had to come home as I have no one that can look after Noah, David had to go to work and a Hospice isn’t the place for a 20 month old, it’s simply not fair on the patients nor my father who deserved some peace.

This is where it begins. The debilitating, unimaginable and unchangeable. The Guilt.

You see we were all there when my beautiful mum left this world. My brothers, my Dad (they had divorced many moons ago and my dad remarried, but they had remained friends and he was there), my ex. This left me scarred for a long time, the only memory I had of her for a very long time being the moment she passed but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We were there for her in what was probably her most terrifying moment and I’m glad the last thing she saw was all her children and I would suffer my entire life and be happy knowing that she felt secure in that moment.

We had planned on going to see Dad again the following weekend. I phoned the hospice daily for updates ‘very poorly, unconscious, no change’ was the reply each day. This gave me hope that I would be able to be with him too. I felt that I owed him at least that.

My eldest brother went up on the Thursday and he told me Dad was unconscious but the same, on the Friday morning at about 0900 he told me his breathing had changed, by 0930 he had gone. The day before I was due to be there. The day before I wanted to be there. The day before I needed to be there… for him, for my Dad, but I wasn’t.

So much guilt is wrapped up in grief. So much I wasn’t aware of. Along with the incredible sense of loss, heartache and anger comes this new emotion I hadn’t experienced in grief before. You see with mum I was there, totally. I felt lots of things when grieving her loss but I never felt this level of guilt. I’m not saying I didn’t experience it, I felt guilty about some things but they were things I couldn’t have changed and were done for her benefit (or what we thought was her benefit).

This guilt with Dad is slowly eating me up and I know nothing I do or say can change anything or take it away so have to somehow come to terms with it, deal with it and get over it, but I’m struggling.

I should have spoken to him more.

I should have gone to see him more.

I should have taken Noah to see him more.

I should have told him I loved him more.

I should have known him better.

I shouldn’t have stuck my head in the sand.

I should have been there. I should have been there, at the end. Like I was there for mum. I feel I have let him down. I feel that he must think I love him less because I couldn’t give him what I gave mum at the end, my time. 

On Wednesday we say goodbye for the final time and I’m dreading it.

I love you Daddy and I’m so terribly, terribly sorry.