My sweet boy,
The last couple of days have been really difficult. Your big sisters started ‘big school’ yesterday. When I was dressing them in to their school uniforms I really struggled to keep it together for knowing that I will never have that moment with you. I know I keep repeating this part but people who have never lost a child just do not get it, at all. When you passed away I didn’t just lose you as you were that day; I didn’t just lose a baby who didn’t survive pregnancy, I didn’t just lose a newborn … I lost the next 50+ years of my life with you.
I lost your first tooth and your first word. I lost the chance to see you crawl and to see you walk. I lost the chance to see you open your eyes, to hear your cry and to see you laugh. I lost the chance to take you to your first day at nursery, your first day at pre-school, your first day at primary school and your first day at secondary school. I lost the 5 year old you, the 10 year old you, the 15 year old you, the 30 year old you.
One of the hardest things about living as a bereaved parent is knowing that nobody knows you like I do, so they struggle to understand why it hurts so badly losing you. I have people around me telling other people that I shouldn’t be this upset because I didn’t make memories with you; that I can’t feel as bad as they do for losing their parent or grandparent because you weren’t here as long as they were …
Both of those reasons play a part in why I am so open about our situation and why I talk about you so freely. People who say such things don’t understand that the more they try to silence me, the more I will speak of you. It’s ignorance that makes stillbirth such a taboo subject and I REFUSE to allow you to become ‘lost’ in that taboo. I REFUSE to allow you to become a statistic.
I DIDN’T get to make years of memories with you outside of my pregnancy or the few days I had with you in the hospital after you were born. I DIDN’T get to celebrate any Christmases with you. I DIDN’T get to take you on holiday or watch you blow out the candles on your birthday cakes. But I cannot say for one second that I understand where they’re coming from when they say that means I cannot hurt as much as they do about their losses because I KNOW you, just as well as they know their mum, dad, grandma, grandad etc … I KNOW you without those memories because you are my son.
You are a product of my being. You are a part of my existence. You existed only inside me. I felt you move, so I know you lived. I was sick every time I ate anything greasy, so you clearly wouldn’t have enjoyed a full English! You settled every time you heard me playing Dock of the Bay, which is why it became the song we played as your coffin was lowered – putting you to rest one last time. You became active and didn’t stop moving whenever you heard your sisters singing to you, which tells me you were excited to hear their voices. I know that you are brave. I know that you are strong. I know that you are one of the most determined little boys who has ever graced this Earth. I know that you’re a fighter. I know that you’re cheeky. I know that you are MINE and I am YOURS and that will be the case for eternity, regardless.
It doesn’t matter whether those memories were made. It doesn’t. Those memories I am deprived of would not change the love I have for you. I don’t love you because of memories.
I love you because you are my child. I love you because I grew you, I nurtured you, we become one for those 35 weeks that you had a heart beat. I love you because I laboured for over 16 hours to deliver your perfect little body Earthside. I love you because I am proud of you. I love you because, when you were placed naked on to my chest when you were born silent and still, I knew I would never let your memory die alongside you. I love you because of your sweet little lips, your beautiful button nose, your wrinkly forehead, your dark wavy hair, your long fingers, your massive feet and your unique pointy elf ears. I love you because you are special; there is no one on Earth that is like you. I love you because you are my son. Death does not take that away from me. Death does not change that. So I miss you for all the same reasons.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed by this point, but mummy likes to put on a brave face to those around her. I keep being told that time is a great healer and that, eventually, I will move on from you. I promise you, with every fibre of my being, that I will NEVER move on from you. I WILL move forward, I will find a new ‘normal’ and learn to live without you because I have to, but I will never move on.
I will continue to speak about you, and I will do so as often as I please. I will continue to say your name.
You are my child as much as Cora is my child and as much as Maisie is my child. You are not loved any less just because you’re not here with us. I hope you know that.
I don’t know if you heard me today, I kinda hope you didn’t because I like to think that you’re exploring and not waiting at your graveside all day for someone to come and visit. I was talking to you about how much I want you to know how loved you are, how missed you are and how big of an impact your existence is having on the world. I want you to know that you not being here doesn’t change that. I get scared. I get really, really scared that you don’t know.
One of the things I promised you when I saw you for the last time is that you didn’t need to be scared. I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to lay awake at night, terrified that you’re lonely, wondering whether you’re warm enough. It might sound stupid to those who have never buried their baby, but I’m your mummy, I’m supposed to protect you and I can’t. I’m supposed to cradle you to my chest when you’re cold and I can’t. I’m supposed to stroke your tiny hands and face when you’re upset and I can’t. I’m supposed to nurse you when you’re hungry and I can’t.
What if you are cold? What if I didn’t give Lianna, our funeral director, enough blankets to wrap you in? What if you want something to soothe yourself, because I didn’t put a dummy in your coffin with you, have you found your thumb? What if you have dropped your teddy and it’s no longer laying on your chest, can you reach it?
I just want you to be okay. I cannot bare the thought of you not being.
As I sat as your graveside today I begged you to let me know that you’re doing fine. I begged you to show me you’re not on your own. I begged you, through tears, to forgive me for not being able to bring you Earthside alive. I know you can’t do any of that and I’m sorry. I just want you here so badly. I want to feel your weight in my arms and your beautiful soft skin against mine. I want to feel your tiny hand wrap around my finger. I want to read a bedtime story to you while I’m cradling you, instead of at your graveside. I want to hear you cry and see you laugh.
They say that time in Heaven is nothing like time on Earth. They say that Earth years pass as seconds in Heaven. I really hope that this is the case. I hope that my 50+ years left on Earth is only seconds to you. I hope that, by the time we meet again, it’s like we have never been apart because only seconds have passed, to you. I hope that I reach you just in time for you to turn around, or blink, and I’m there – like you’ve never been away from me. I hope that I reach you just in time, so that when you open your eyes for the first time, it’s my face that you see. If 50+ years becomes 50+ seconds, it’s a possibility.
I cannot wait to see you with your eyes open.
I miss you, Otis. I miss you so, SO much. I miss you as much as I love you and I cannot possibly put that in to words.
I hope you’re sleeping peacefully, baby.
I love you,