Over the last few days I have grappled with a constant niggling at the back of my mind that I need to do something about the loss that others around me are feeling due to losing Otis. I have been considering talking to Chris’ parents to see if they would like to become a part of Cora and Maisie’s lives (Chris is not their daddy)– not to take over, not as their ‘grandparents’ … Just as two people, who would grow to love them like everyone else does who meets them; who would see their precious grandson in them. Maisie and Cora’s daddy’s family are involved in Otis’ life in the sense of keeping his memory alive, and they often spoke of how he would be as much in their lives as the girls. They even came to Otis’ funeral … I’m happy, in that sense, that I have children with two of the most caring families I know.
Had Otis lived, they would have grown to know the girls through seeing them at birthday parties etc, and I didn’t want our future lives to do a complete turnaround and change because he’s no longer here. I don’t think that Otis would want for two families NOT to become one just because he isn’t here. I don’t think Otis would want for everyone just to walk their separate ways because then life wouldn’t be as it would if he was living. Everything would be different. A massive part of me wants life, in that sense, to carry on as it would had he lived, because then I would feel as though I’m honouring his memory.
I thought, after the last few weeks and losing Otis, that the girls would offer Chris’ parents some peace. They are the nearest anyone has to Otis. They share 50% of their DNA with our little boy – something that no one else in the world does apart from his daddy and I. I wanted to see if it would provide them some comfort after losing Otis. I went to bed confused with this thought on my mind, not knowing what to do, not knowing if I should ask, not knowing how anyone would react if I suggested it... You could say I felt stupid, and scared, for even thinking it. But it gave me some hope. It gave me hope that Chris’ parents would be able to enjoy the girls as Otis’ siblings. It gave me hope that the girls would help Chris’ parents see who their little grandson would have been had he been born alive.
They would get to know how funny Maisie is; how, regardless of the situation, she is always there to help other people. They would get to know how much Maisie would have mothered Otis and how loved on he would have been by her. They would get to know how intelligent Cora is and how she likes to teach others. They would get to see how much Otis would have learned from his big sister, Cora. They would also get to see just how stubborn she is! From getting to know the girls, they would get to know a part of their grandson, too. Whether that would be a reassuring and comforting thing, or the complete opposite and make them miss him more, is something we wouldn’t know the answer to until it happened.
Anyway, last night, I had a dream. In my dream they must have accepted my invitation for them to meet the twins and become a part of their lives. We were all on a beach, not sure which one or where, but it was a beautiful beach with the whitest sand and the bluest sea I have ever seen. There was no clouds in sight and the sun was beaming. Bernard and Thelma (Chris’ mum and dad) were further up the beach playing with Maisie and Cora, while I sat watching them. I remember feeling a little at peace – something I haven’t felt at all since Otis passed away. It felt good, but wrong at the same time.
In my dream, I turned to the left of me for just a second because I heard a noise. I caught a glimpse of this child playing in the distance, with no adult with them. I had a quick glimpse around the beach to see if I could spot any adults that could be supervising – there were none. I took it upon myself to walk up this child and see if they were okay, and if they had anyone with them.
As I was walking over, this child turned to look at me. It was a little boy and he was absolutely beautiful! He had the biggest blue eyes, dark hair (and a lot of it) and a cute button nose. He just looked up at me and said ‘I’m okay. It’s okay. I know that I’m loved.’ At this point I was really confused and told him that we would go and find his mummy. He replied ‘okay.’ I turned back to Bernard and Thelma to tell them I was going to take this little boy back to his parents. With a confused look on their faces they asked me ‘what little boy? There’s no one there.’ The beach was completely empty.
Shaking off what had just happened I started walking back to where I was sat, then out of the corner of my eye I saw him again, he was walking in to the water. How could I see this little boy, but no one else could?
Then I saw him look at me. I looked back at him. For a moment, time stood still. It was then that I realised this little boy was MY little boy. It was my son. It was Otis.
(I get goosebumps as I write this)
I had realised that this beautiful little being was my son after he had grown up a little. His eyes were open, and they were stunning! He could walk, he could talk, he could BREATHE by himself – something the doctors told us Otis would never do. He wasn’t riddled by brain tumour, his body wasn’t riddled with haemorrhages, he wasn’t showing any signs of pain. Heaven must have taken all that away from him. In my dream, he was happy, he was free. In my dream he KNEW how loved he is!
A part of me now thinks that this (in some strange way) was my subconscious letting me know that whatever I felt I had to do, was okay to do. It was like my mind was telling me that, regardless of what happens in the future, I will never replace Otis and he knows that I would never replace him. Another part of me also thinks that it was my brain’s way of letting me know that I don’t have to worry about Otis (though I always will) because wherever he may be now, he can see. He can see the world he couldn’t see when he was with us. He can watch his big sisters play. He can watch his mummy, daddy, grandparents, aunts and uncles LOVE him from afar. He can do anything he wants to do and be anything he wants to be, because there are no limits in Heaven.
Whether I truly believe there is a Heaven or not, I don’t know – only time will tell. I don’t know whether I believe it because I genuinely think there is one, or as a comfort that my little boy isn’t just rotting in his tiny blue coffin in the ground. I HAVE to believe that his soul, his entity, is somewhere other than that coffin. I HAVE to believe in something or I wouldn’t be coping.
After having that dream, I’m reassured that everyone around me (and Otis) know that I would never, ever consider trying to replace my son in anyone’s lives. I am reassured that it’s okay to do what I feel I need to do to get through losing him, and help others around me get through losing him. We will NEVER move on, but I’m reassured it’s okay to eventually move forward. I’m reassured that it’s okay to try and see Otis in other people and that it’s ‘normal’ to feel guilty for doing so.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; We love you, we miss you, we will do both eternally.