I’m writing this sat in my car at the entrance of the baby garden in my local cemetery. I would be sat inside the bushed walls of the garden, was it not for the typical English weather.
Most people I have spoken to about cemeteries – this may seem like an odd conversation topic, but they become a part of your norm after you’ve buried your baby – have told me that they seem to find them ‘creepy’ or scary places, and I’m often questioned about why I prefer visiting the cemetery at night time. If you walk past the baby garden between the hours of 8pm and 11pm, you’ll probably see me here. I will be sat on a coat beside him, or in front of him, but never above him. Wind, rain, storm, or shine.
Though a concept many will struggle to understand, I find peace here. I don’t find peace in a ‘I am at peace with my baby dying and him being buried here’ but rather a remarkably calm sense of … belonging, I guess. A sense of closeness; a sense of wonder; a sense of love.
I’m not okay with my little boy laying underneath the Earth. I’m not okay with there being 2 feet of dirt above him. I’m not okay with knowing I am a mere 3 feet away from my son’s body; yet a life time away from holding him. I’m not okay with the fact there is a headstone erected with my baby’s name etched on the front. I’m not okay with there being only one date written on it – the beginning and the end, with no in between. But I am okay with having a place to go. I’m okay with having a sacred spot for my son which will ensure he is safe, regardless of where I am or end up. I’m okay with knowing his name is written on an everlasting memorial and people will see and say his name long after my own heart stops beating. I’m okay with having the chance to come and visit him, as I know many others before me haven’t with their child.
I sit looking at his spot and my mind wanders to the elements and what they’re doing to my sweet boy’s perfect little body. And then pretty much immediately it snaps right out of that thought and tells me to get out of the car and dance in the rain – almost telling me to make the memories for my baby that he never had the chance to make.
And I feel a smile creep upon my face. I look at the grass ahead of me and I think about what it would be like to dance with him in the rain. And it’s amazing. I see his chunky little legs and a big cheesy smile upon his face. I see his head full of thick, dark, curly hair. I see his arms outstretched, reaching up to me. ‘Mama!’ I see him turn around and look at me and there are those big baby blue eyes staring up at me, in to the very core of my being … making me feel as though I’m looking in to the very core of his.
And as quickly as I imagine him; he disappears. But the smile somehow remains.
How do you find comfort when you’re sat beside your baby’s grave?
How can you smile, when you’re sat beside your baby’s grave?
Questions I have been asked and asked myself multiple times; in disbelief, in anger, in denial. And it’s looking up and seeing those letters imprinted on that granite stone that tell me why:
OTIS DOMINIC ANTHONY CULLEN
BORN SLEEPING 3RD JUNE 2016
MUCH LOVED SON, GRANDSON AND BROTHER
He was here.
He was born.
He is my son.
How can I only know sadness when it comes to this beautiful little boy who I had the pleasure of growing within me? How can I only feel pain, when the love I have for him far outweighs that pain? I don’t find peace in the cemetery because I want to be here. I find peace in this cemetery because a part of my world rests here. I find peace in this cemetery because this is where my inspiration lays. I find peace in this cemetery because being here is one of the very few ways I can mother my son. I find peace here because it isn’t a scary place, nor one to be feared.
I find peace here because, in my heart of hearts, I believe Otis is at peace.
So why at night time?
Because I’m usually alone in doing so. In the 13 months since Otis was born and buried, I can count on one hand the number of times I have bumped in to somebody at the cemetery at night time. When I’m alone, I can be as I need to be. I can talk to him, I can laugh as I tell him stories about his big sisters and their mischievous antics. I can sing to him, I can cry, I can fall to my knees on the floor and scream if I need to.
And there will be no one there to judge me.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; born without breath, not without love. Missed beyond words, loved beyond measure.