bereavement · Childbirth · childloss · grief · infantloss · Labour · miscarriage · pregnancy · stillbirth · Uncategorized

The post-play blues.

There comes a moment when you suddenly realise that this is it.

This is it.
This is my life.
It will be my life, for the rest of my life.

It’s been a year and it hasn’t done that ‘thing’ that people promised me it would do – it hasn’t got better; it hasn’t become easier. The once newborn-sized Otis shaped hole in my life is now a toddler-sized Otis shaped hole. It’s getting bigger. Just as his presence would grow if he was here, his absence grows just the same. You might think this is completely irrational, but I do something now that I never thought possible a year ago – I hurt more. I hurt more now than I did in the weeks following my little boy’s death.

For those who have (thankfully) never walked in the shoes of a bereaved parent, I can hear you asking ‘how on Earth is that possible?’

For some of those who walk the same journey as I, I can hear your quiet mutters of ‘I hear ya’ … 

I’ve spent the last month or so in limbo – admittedly ashamed to admit that, one year down the line, I feel the loss of my son more than I did the day I birthed his lifeless body; more than I did the day I held him for the last time; more than I did the day I walked away from him in the funeral home, after seeing him for the very last time; more than I did the day I stood beside a hole in the ground as his tiny coffin was lowered 3 feet below it; more than I did upon returning home that same day, to a silent house and an empty cot; more than I did when I thought it wouldn’t ever be possible to feel it more.

There comes a moment when you suddenly realise that this is it. 

It can come in the form of something as simple as a small message sent to a friend (as it did with me):

He isn’t coming home, is he? 

And those 4 words that are sent back to you in response:

No, Natalie. He isn’t. 

The 3rd of June, 2016. A date that is just like any other for most of you. For me, the date the world as I knew it ceased to exist. The date everything changed. The date my life turned upside down. The date my life stopped, and the date my life started again, completely different in it’s entirety to the day before. You can almost part my life in to two sections – before him, and after him.

One year in to ‘after’ and I’m still trying to figure out how to fix this. And I’m slowly learning that I can’t. The tiny amount of naivety I still had one year ago is now completely non-existent. A tiny part of me believed people when they told me that time heals all wounds; that the absence of my baby would become easier as days pass. A tiny part of me believed that I could make this better. I know now that I can’t.

The grass now covers his tiny grave that was once just a small mound of Earth dirt. The sun rises, and falls, just as it did before he died. The birds still chirp and the leaves still fall off their branches in Autumn. The milkman still does his rounds, the window cleaner still climbs his ladder, the paper boy still delivers the newspaper. How is it something can change so drastically, but everything around it remains the same?

Though I know it isn’t, it feels almost personal, accentuating further the panic and the worry that, one day, my little boy’s name will stop being spoken.

I think it’s typically after the ‘one year anniversaries’ that people expect others to have moved forward from a loss. I believe there’s a lot to be spoken for, for whoever decided that to be the case.

I’ve spent the last year of my life in complete denial. I have spent almost 13 months TELLING myself that my little boy will come home someday. I have spent the last 13 months protecting myself by forcing myself to imagine him playing on the grass at the park when I take his older sisters, as though he is here. I have said his name out loud, repeatedly, daily, as I would if he was here. I have said goodnight to him every single night, as I would if he was here. I have included him the best I can in everything I have done for, and with, his sisters since he died, as I would if he was here.

And he ISNT here.

And he’s never going to be.

And it was THAT that hit me like a ton of bricks on my head as we boarded a flight to Tenerife a little under one month ago. I only had to check 3 of us in. And for the first time since he was born, for the first time since he died, there were only 3 of us ‘present’. In doing something for his big sisters, for the first time since he died, I didn’t do the same for him … because I couldn’t.

It was like the veil I had put over myself to protect myself the year prior had been lifted and I saw this for what it really is. I saw the harsh, real brutality of what had actually happened to us. I saw the truth.

My little boy is dead. He is buried 3 feet underground. He is never coming home. 

And in that moment it felt like it had only just happened the day before. It felt as raw, if not MORE raw, than it did on the 3rd of June 2016.

I had a year from that date to mother my son in a completely unconventional way – to ‘celebrate’ his firsts and make them as special as I could, under the circumstances.

I had a year to plan his celebration of life – his first birthday.

I spent month after month planning. Every hour of every day that I had free was solely dedicated to doing that for him.

And as quickly as it began, it was over. His first birthday came; his first birthday went. And in that, so did his first Halloween, his first Christmas, his first Easter. And there is nothing ‘new’ I can do for him anymore.

The last song has been played; the curtains are drawn; and the audience has gone home. You’re left with an overwhelming feeling of emptiness – what can I do, now? And here I am, in the post play blues. Hoping and praying for another ‘new’ to come along somehow. Hoping and praying for the next play, that might never come.

There comes a moment when you suddenly realise that this is it.

This is my life now, and there is nothing I can do to change it.

Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; born without breath, not without love. Missed beyond words, loved beyond measure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The post-play blues.

  1. I don’t know if it will be comforting to you, but I wanted to share that the first few months after the first anniversary of Nadia’s death were by far the hardest for me. The deep early grief made sense, the shaky reintegration into daily life made sense. I was writing, thinking, learning. But after a year, I was confronted with the fact that my connection to Nadia is just as strong as ever, while it faded away for pretty much everybody else. And indeed, while at first it was as if her presence was with me, at that point it became apparent that what walks beside me is her absence. And this is something that can’t be communicated well (it’s a tangible absence, a meaningful one, an absence that has the power to shape me), and that is deeply isolating.

    I found that it is possible to integrate this into my life as well, but at the time it was a whole new dreadful milestone, and it took some time and energy and lots of tears.

    Like

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