One of the hardest emotional battles I’ve had since Otis died is the wondering how the world around me hasn’t stopped. Everyone (and everything) just carries on as normal … Plants continue to grow, food continues to be made, the milkman continues his rounds, the postman continues posting, people laugh, people live their life as if nothing has happened.
How come their lives didn’t come to a standstill when mine did?
How come time didn’t stop for them, when it did for me?
I feel selfish for even thinking that way. Why would the rest of the world stop? It’s not a logical thought, at all, but it’s still there. I suppose it is a concept that’s difficult to accept, knowing that everyone else just carries on. It makes me feel some days like he doesn’t matter to people around me. Then I try to remind myself that he isn’t anyone else’s child. I try to remind myself that, while he is my entire world (along with his siblings), that isn’t the case for anyone else.
No one feels his loss quite like I do.
It doesn’t feel ‘real’ … I feel like I’m watching somebody else’s life on a TV screen in front of me and I fool myself in to believing that this will stop. I fool myself in to believing that Otis will come home safe and sound, and warm. I fool myself into believing that, one day, he will be right where he should be – in my arms.
Eventually these thoughts will change. Somewhere in the future (near or distant, I don’t know) there will come a day when I wake up and the first thought that enters my mind won’t be me wondering why those around me have gone to work that day … It will be something completely different. A thought of acceptance; of healing, maybe.
Though I don’t expect it to happen overnight, I know that one day I will wake up different, possibly without even realising. The forced strength will no longer be forced; I will be able to smile again without feeling guilty; I will be able to laugh again without trying to stop myself; I will be able to feel sadness and happiness in equal measure; and maybe sometimes happiness more …
But, for now, I’m okay with not doing. And this is something I stress. I’m okay still feeling this hurt about my baby dying. I’m fine with feeling the guilt that comes along with my laughter because, to me personally, it means he is still at the forefront of my mind. I’m accepting of the fact I have more bad days than good days. It’s just how it is. It’s rational, it’s logical, it’s normal, it’s grief. You could even go as far as saying that it is simply survival.
But the memory of my life standing still will stay with me until I take my final breath, that I know for sure. How can it not? This perfect little piece of me is gone, he isn’t coming back. The day he died, the day he was born, and the few days following his birth are days in time that will forever just … be. They are days in my life that I will never get back, that I can never repeat, that I can never change, and that I will carry with me for eternity.
And that’s okay.
I know from running a support group for bereaved parents and their families that everyone does this so differently.
I know people who have accepted their child dying almost immediately and have just ‘got on with it’.
I know people who haven’t acknowledged their grief for over 40 years because that is ‘just how it was done back then’.
I know people who are years in to their journey who still feel the pain is as raw every single day as it was the day their child died.
I know people who have only recently lost their child, and they’re coping.
I know people who don’t cope and need that little extra help.
But ALL of these people have one thing in common – be it a few minutes or 40 years, their lives stood still too.
And that’s okay.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; you are missed beyond words and loved beyond measure, sweet boy.