In the early days after Eddie died, I remember feeling strangely in tune with the weather. It oddly made me feel better when it was grey and miserable outside. We then entered one of the hottest summers on record and I felt annoyed. And aggrieved. How dare the sun shine bright when my life was so sad and gloomy!
Over the past couple of weeks, the weather has shifted and taken on an autumnal feel. It’s still August but winter is looming. In my melancholy state, I should be looking forward to the colder months ahead. But I sit here, dreading the change of season. The heavy rain over the weekend, the anticipation of shorter days and longer nights, simply serves to intensify my grief and my sorrow.
Now I long for Summer and some brightness in my life.
Chris feels like he has had an almighty hangover since the bike ride. Before the ride, he felt a sense of purpose and we both got caught up in the emotional dizziness of it all.
We know there is more work to do with the charity but despite this, our lives continue to feel empty and void of purpose. It remains impossibly hard to think of a future when our future is without our darling boy.
The past weekend was particularly difficult. We felt at a loss and not quite sure what to do with ourselves. So we decided to go back to a place that we swore we would never go back to again after an almighty row, 4.5 years ago.
We returned to IKEA.
When Eddie was here, it was my responsibility to look after him, to mother him. I am still a mother and will always be Eddie’s mother.
But as I look at where I am today, just over 4 months since my beautiful baby boy was tragically taken from me, I wonder if it’s Eddie that now looks after me. I question how I am here, how I got here, and how I am managing to get through the days. Yet somehow, I am still standing.
I know, in part, it is owed to the unwavering support of family and friends. And of course my rock, Chris. But, maybe somewhere, Eddie is watching over me and is giving me the strength and courage to soldier on. And so it reminds me of a quote that I chose for Eddie’s funeral service – something that no parent should ever have to do. It’s by AA Milne and taken from Winnie the Pooh:
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…
There is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…
I’ll always be with you.”
~ A.A. Milne
Yesterday was very emotional. Actually, every day is very emotional for us at the moment. But yesterday was particularly emotional as my amazing husband completed the 100 mile cycle Ride London event. He braved the elements, and nearly retired because of a punctured tyre, but managed to complete the ride in 5 hrs 9 minutes. Chris was interviewed for the BBC straight after the event and spoke about the reasons why he did the cycle. It was, and always will be, for Eddie. I know Eddie will be so proud of his daddy, as I am, a very proud wife.
It has been an overwhelming few weeks. We’ve kickstarted Teddy’s Wish and the support has, quite simply, been phenomenal. And amongst all of this, we are still missing the most important ingredient of our lives. Our darling boy.
But in Chris’s words “Edward, not only the next 100 miles are for you, but the rest of my life. I will love you forever. Xx”
Chris, you are my inspiration, my strength. You are my hero x
A childhood friend of mine emailed me the other day. We hadn’t spoken for years but we have connected again in the saddest of circumstances.
She was the daughter of my mother’s best friend who died of cancer when we were 14 years old. It was a battle she fought bravely but was tragically taken too early, too young and too soon.
I am grateful she has come back into my life again, despite the reasons why. And I wanted to share a poem, which she shared with me, by her mother’s favourite poet Merritt Malloy. It’s taken from her book ‘The People Who Didn’t Say Goodbye’
Something You Can Count On
I want to tell you
in a few words
what I could not tell you
in too many
I want you to know
that it will be hard
to live without you
You will always be the one
I’m thinking about
when somebody asks me
who I’m thinking
Eddie, wherever you are, this is something you can always count on.
We have been taught about the fragility of life and how life can change instantaneously. Without warning. And I suppose we feel mis-trusting of life.
Chris went to Amsterdam yesterday for work. It was our first night apart since we lost Eddie and it was tough, even though it was for only 24 hrs. I had the support of a good friend and family who stayed with me but I missed Chris in a different way to how I used to miss him.
Back then, it was taken for granted that he would be home safely. But yesterday was different and we both felt it. We said goodbye like it was the final goodbye.
There is an expectation by others that grief has some form of an expiry date. We should be moving on, getting on and embracing life. But how do you learn to enjoy life again without the most important person in it?
I have 2 masks. My mask of normalcy and the mask beneath the mask. My mask of normalcy can get up in the morning and function. We moved house 6 weeks after Eddie was born and there are rooms that are still unfinished, that were meant to stay unfinished as we were too busy juggling life with a new baby. Since we now have so much time on our hands, we have embarked on a new house project. Our weekends which were meant to be reserved for family outings have now been replaced with outings to furniture and kitchen stores.
My mask of normalcy allows me to speak to builders, research paints and colours and such. I can now hold normal conversations with people I know, and strangers, without immediately bursting into floods of tears. There are times that I can smile and even laugh. And in those moments, I catch glimpses of my old self.
But even though I have the ability to function, it does not lessen my grief and my sadness. It does not mean that I am enjoying life. It means I am functioning, coping and existing. There is a mask beneath the mask that is the new me. The person who questions whether they will ever experience happiness again and who desperately wants her old life back. A life which was full of hope and optimism. A life where I held my baby boy in my arms and not just in my heart.
And in an instant, our lives were changed forever. It was as if someone had decided to press the reset button.
I have come to realise that no days are good, but some are more tolerable than others. There are the moments of light, of hope for a future where one day, we will experience happiness again. Then without warning, the bricks and mortar we are using to re-build our life, are pulled apart and come crashing down.
But I know that even in those moments of light, our life will never be the same again. Our grief will be like a thread, woven into the fabric of our daily life. And one day, it will be richer because of it. I know today I am stronger, more resilient to what life throws at us – and for that, I am grateful.
In other news, I have been let off not one, but two contested parking tickets. I clearly have too much time on my hands. Thank goodness for small mercies.
Yesterday was Chris’s first day back at work. Up until now, we have been coming to terms with Eddie’s loss, together. Although men and women grieve differently, there was comfort in the knowledge that Chris was with me every day. Now we tread the path of grief separately. I know he found it difficult going back to work and I miss him terribly but it’s the first step back into the real world. And that world is now seen through a different lens.
On Tuesday, we were kindly offered tickets to Wimbledon from a close friend of ours. It was a day out which we would normally get really excited about but it was tinged with sadness. Whilst it was nice to watch the tennis, Chris said Wimbledon will miss out on the greatest player that never was. As will the England cricket team and England rugby team…
I feel like I have been catapulted into a new life and I am still trying to make sense of it all. Filling up the days are harder than it used to be but I am trying to keep myself busy. Coffee meet ups and lunches with other new mums have been replaced with coffee meet ups and lunches with bereaved mums who are bound by the same loss as me. It’s strange, I feel like I belong to an exclusive new club. It’s by invitation only; you wouldn’t want to join unless you were asked to. But I find great comfort in meeting women who I otherwise wouldn’t have met and there is an instant connection. Tragic, but instant.
This is the year of firsts. The first time we have to do something is inevitably the most difficult and each situation we find ourselves in brings its own unique triggers. The first time I go somewhere or do something that I used to do with Eddie hits me hard. Going to the park, a local cafe, or a friends house reminds me that Eddie’s not here and I’m not meant to be there without him.
Going out for dinner for the first time with friends throws up different emotions. Trying to have somewhat normal conversations and not allowing my mind to drift to Eddie is a toilsome chore. Sitting at a dinner table, speaking about things that I have absolutely no interest in, putting on a brave face and forcing a smile. Having to suffer my grief in silence. Bumping into people we know, meeting people we don’t know. Dealing with the awkward silences when I tell someone what has happened; I know it’s just as difficult for them as it is for me. And I have to brace myself that however strong I want to be, sometimes the tears just flow when you don’t want them to. Or when its least expected.
Silly as it sounds, the first time doing anything that resembles something normal, just serves to remind me that I am trying so hard to adapt to this new life we have been catapulted into. The day to day events we took for granted, that required no effort, have become a daily struggle. And it’s exhausting.