6 months ago you came in to the world.
You are just the most perfect little boy. You have the biggest blue eyes; a squidgy button nose; those little legs with your tubby rolls. You can roll over; you have grown just one tooth but that doesn’t stop you enjoying your food – you had to be weaned early because you’re such a hungry boy …
Every single night since the night you were born, you have been put to bed after being read a bed time story; you have been tucked in by somebody who loves you; you have had cuddles and been rocked to sleep …
If only I knew this for sure.
That’s how long has passed since you were born – so beautiful, so perfect, so peaceful.
That’s how long it has been since I first laid eyes on you.
That’s how long it has been since I held you for the very first time.
That’s how long it has been since our first hello … leading to our last goodbye.
6 months. 26 weeks. 183 days. 4392 hours. 263,520 minutes. 15,811,200 seconds.
That’s how long I have been without you.
I hate it. Being so close to the day you were born sleeping gives me ‘justification’ to the outside world to cry, to miss you, to grieve – once I hit that year mark, I know that those around me will be expecting me to ‘get over it.’ I will never get over it. Yes, I’ll move forward, find my new normal and I will learn to live with your absence … but I will never get over you. You aren’t a bruised knee; you aren’t a broken limb; you aren’t a wound; you aren’t a relationship breakdown; you are my son. You are my little boy. One third of my world, one third of my heart, one third of my reason for living.
I will miss you and feel your absence for the rest of my life. I won’t just miss the little boy who was, I will miss the little boy who would have been.
I had you, alive, for 35 weeks and 1 day – 246 days – out of the rest of my life. Then I had you in my arms, lifeless, for 3 days.
I never got to see you with your eyes open, Otis. What do you look like with your eyes open? Are they big and blue like your big sisters’ eyes, like I imagine them to be? I never got to hear you cry. What does your cry sound like? Is it a high pitched squeal, like Cora’s baby cry was? Or are you more of a quiet squeaker, like Maisie? I never got to see you smile. I can imagine you to have a cheeky grin, with your one lonely tooth poking out of your gum. I wish I got to see you smile. I wish I knew for absolute fact that you are happy.
I have already missed your first bath, your first giggle, your first meal, your first time rolling over, your first everything … You don’t get ‘firsts’ when your child is born dead.
It just isn’t fair. I did everything ‘right’ and you still died. In 21 days, I will miss your first Christmas. I will visit you on Christmas morning at your graveside. The sheer thought of not being able to carry you down the stairs at stupid o’clock on Christmas day, following your big sisters to see if Santa has been, makes me feel physically sick.
There is no justification for this.
Over the last six months I have heard countless people telling me that everything happens for a reason; that God needed another angel; that he only takes ‘the best’ … If such a God does exist, he/she/it isn’t worthy of worship, as far as I’m concerned.
‘Everything happens for a reason’ – there is no reason in existence that justifies you lying 3 feet under ground in a teeny blue coffin.
‘God needed another angel’ – that’s easy for them to say, considering ‘he’ didn’t choose one of their children.
‘God only takes the best’ – so, what, your big sisters aren’t ‘good enough’ to die?
No logic. No reason. No justification.
This is never going to be okay. Being without you, that is never going to be okay. You’re dead. How, in any world, at any time, under any circumstances, is that okay?
There are three things ‘getting me through’ losing you – Cora, Maisie and hope.
Hope that I will see you again; hope that I will hold you in my arms again; hope that, when I close my eyes for the very last time, I will open them to see your face; hope that you know how loved you are; hope that you can see the impact you’re having on the world; hope that you’re okay; hope that you are looked after; hope that someone is tucking you up in bed at night; hope that you can HEAR me when I read you your bedtime story at your graveside every night; hope that you know that you have not and will never be forgotten.
It isn’t easy. But you know that, don’t you Otis? You’re with me, aren’t you? With your absence comes constant pain, constant ‘what ifs’, constant ‘if onlys’, constant wonder …
I will wonder every day for the rest of my life who you would have been.
You are a fighter, a soldier, determined … that I know for sure.
Your sisters miss you, they talk about you daily. I cannot believe I have survived six months without you – I never thought it possible. But how can I not?
With every breath I take, I know that I am taking one for you.
With every step I walk, I know that I am walking one for you.
I promised you when you were born, when you were placed lifeless, silent and still on to my chest, that your memory would not die alongside you. I promised you that your memory would live as long as I do … and in order to do that, I have to keep living. I have to keep going. You live through me. For as long as I breathe, you breathe through me. For as long as my heart beats, your heart beats through me.
Please, Otis, let it be known that in any world, under any circumstances, at any time – I would choose you. If having you and then losing you meant being given the chance to LOVE you, to hold you, to kiss you, to be your mummy … then I would choose you.
You are missed beyond words and loved beyond measure, sweet boy.
Sleep well, sweet dreams.