Santa came yesterday!
Mummy woke us both up and she took us to see if he had left us any presents – me and Maisie got lots and lots of presents. Mummy didn’t seem as excited this year as she did last year and I looked at her a lot yesterday morning wondering why. I took ages to open my presents; in between each and every one, I would go over to mummy and show her. She was super excited and happy for me and my sister, but there was something in her eyes telling me that she just wasn’t as excited as she should be.
I didn’t know why mummy was so sad, at first. I thought that it was because Santa hadn’t left her any presents, but then mummy told me that Santa delivers her presents at my granddad’s house. So again, I was left wondering.
Mummy kept seeing me looking over at her. I care a lot about my mummy’s feelings and I don’t like it when she is sad. Mummy knows that. Every time I looked at her, she smiled. I think she was making herself smile though like she wasn’t really happy. Maisie likes boys toys and clothes, so Santa brought her a Spiderman outfit for one of her Christmas presents. Maisie was SUPER excited and jumping up and down. Someone (I can’t remember who) laughed and said ‘it’s like having a son with Maisie isn’t it. One of each!’ … Mummy got sad when they said that. Mummy looked at Otis’ teddy on her knee and quietly said ‘I do have a son.’
I think I’m the only person who heard her, because I looked over at mummy and no one else did. Then she looked back up, took a deep breath, did a big smile at me and said ‘so what else did Santa bring you Cora?’
I showed her my Cinderella dress. She told me I would look like a princess in it, and I soooo do.
After we had opened all of our presents, we stayed with daddy while mummy went out. We didn’t ask where she was going because we were too busy playing with our new toys; if I’m honest, I didn’t really know she had gone – she kinda just ‘slipped away.’
Then when she got back she had that look on her face … the one which means that she had been crying. She had red eyes and a blotchy face – mummy always tells me and Maisie that we look like giraffes when we have been crying, because we get red and white blotchy faces too. I think it’s to try and make us laugh.
I told mummy she looked like a giraffe and I ran up to her to give her a big squish (squishes are cuddles, in the ‘mummy’ dictionary).
Then I saw a teddy in her hand. It was a teddy that mummy keeps with Otis, so he knows he isn’t on his own. I realised then that mummy had been to see my baby brother. I took her hand and I pulled her with me in to the living room. Maisie shouted ‘mummy!’ and ran over to us, jumping in to mummy’s arms. Mummy did that smile again.
I remember a few months ago when my baby brother died. I remember mummy sitting with me and my sister and telling us to be brave and to be strong. I used to wonder why mummy told us to be brave, when she cries. I asked her one day and she said – crying is being brave. To show the world, or even one person who is your world, that you hurt … that’s brave, baby. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay not to be okay.
Me and Maisie aren’t scared of crying, but we didn’t want mummy to be sad on Christmas day. Maybe she was missing Otis so much? Maybe that’s why she was sad?
My mummy misses Otis a lot. We do too. But we are only 4 and Otis is our brother – he is mummy’s baby and she had him in her tummy, just like she had me and Maisie in her tummy when we were babies, so I think she misses him just a little bit more, just like she loves me and Maisie a little bit more.
When we went to granddads a little bit after that, we saw that Santa had left a bag of presents for Otis under the tree. This made mummy happy and sad at the same time (she calls that ‘bittersweet’, whatever that means). We opened the presents together and mummy cried when our aunty Zoe gave her one last present – it was a teddy bear made out of clothes that our baby Otis never got to wear. I didn’t know whether they were sad tears or happy tears. I think they were a bit of both. And like mummy tells us … ‘that’s okay, y’know.’
Tears are good. I cry when I get a sore, and then it stops hurting and I stop crying. I cry when I’m sick, then I get better and stop crying. I cry when I miss mummy or daddy, but then they come back from wherever they are, and I stop crying. Mummy cries because she misses my baby brother. He hasn’t come back yet, so she won’t stop crying until he does.
I wonder when Otis will be coming home.
Mummy tells us that he won’t be coming back home, not in this life. But I don’t understand that because I’m only 4, and the other day when I had a dream about Otis, he told me he is okay and he is home. But home is here. And he isn’t here. So he isn’t home just yet. But I do tell mummy he will be home. It makes her sad, but he is here somewhere – he told me.
After we went to granddads, we went to my mummy’s granddads house for dinner with everyone. It was so yummy. I saw that face again, but this time it wasn’t just for a few seconds – mummy had that face on the whole time.
Mummy doesn’t cry a lot around me and Maisie. We know she gets upset but she likes to strong. Mummy tells us that me and Maisie are just as important as Otis is, and she doesn’t want him dying to be more important than the fact we are living. So she tries not to cry too much but sometimes she does. Sometimes it gets too much and mummy hurts too much and tears start leaking from her eyes. She stops them falling most of the time, but sometimes she just can’t. Mummy apologises when she cries, but we don’t mind. We cuddle her, wipe away her tears, we kiss her and we tell her that we miss Otis too.
Even though we are only 4, we know that mummy doesn’t want to be told that everything will be okay. We know that we are allowed to miss Otis. So mummy is allowed to miss Otis, too.
After we had finished dinner we came back home. Mummy had only cried in front of me and Maisie once all day, and we were super proud of her. We told her over and over all day how much we love her and I think that’s what kept her happy. We know that mummy was happy for us, she told us a LOT during the day how much she loves us and how we are her ‘strength’ … whatever that means.
Christmas is usually only a happy day. People aren’t usually sad on Christmas. But this Christmas was a bit of both. It was sad, and it was happy. It was supposed to be Otis’ first Christmas. I think that’s why mummy was sad. But it was our Christmas too, and that’s why mummy was happy.
It’s so confusing.
She was confused, I think. I think that’s why she was crying. I don’t think mummy knew how to be. I heard her telling someone on the phone –
When I smile, I feel guilty. When I’m sad, I feel guilty. I can’t win. I feel like I’m betraying one of my children, whichever I am. Happy, I feel awful on Otis. Sad, I feel awful on the twins. I just wish someone could tell me how to do this. I wish someone could show me how to ‘be’ on my little boy’s first Christmas, when he is 3 feet underground. It feels wrong. It’s strange. I don’t have one Christmas to look back on, to remember how he was, or to think about what he would be doing now. Everything I know about him is imaginary, and I’m having to imagine how he would be. I have to imagine which part of Christmas dinner would be his favourite; I have to imagine what toys I would have bought him; I even have to imagine what PJs he would have had on last night …
She cried on the phone, but I think she only cried because she didn’t know I was looking and listening until she had finished on the phone and saw me stood in the doorway.
I wish that I could stop mummy’s tears forever. I tell her that, all the time. I wish we could make it all better.
But we are proud of mummy, we tell her that too.
We are proud of her because she is surviving for us. And like she always tells her friends who have babies in Heaven …
Surviving is enough.