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.
My life has been divided into 3 parts. Life before Eddie, life with Eddie and life after Eddie.
Life before Eddie was filled with hopes, aspirations and dreams. Life with Eddie was when those hopes and dreams became a reality. Life after Eddie is a path into the dark unknown.
It’s amazing how my perspective on life and luck has altered. Life before Eddie, being unlucky meant Chris was made redundant just a few months before our wedding. Back then, we said life was not always an upward curve and it strengthened us a couple. Being unlucky was having torrential rain on our wedding day (unlucky, not ironic, Alanis Morissette). Being unlucky was having morning sickness in pregnancy, the occasional bleed and a long, induced labour. And when we were unlucky back then, boy did we moan and complain. I look at that person now and think how ungrateful I was because really, I had nothing to complain about at all. The Jen before Eddie was innocent to the darker side of life; tragedy would only ever happen to someone else. Not me, not us.
Leaving Portugal yesterday was difficult. Not that it was an easy time away but we were in a bubble, it was just the four of us, and we didn’t have to speak to or see anyone else. It was a form of escapism even though we were still trapped in grief.
The plane journey on the way home was particularly difficult. Hearing a baby crying incessantly only served to remind us of our desperate longing for Eddie. I think the air hostess genuinely thought we were just upset to be coming home after our holiday when she asked us if there was anything she could do to help! Little did she know.
It’s good to be home as we have work to do. This morning I met with a friend who has kindly offered to help us with Teddys Wish. The charity is still in its early stages but has given me something positive to focus on. Those moments help me feel like I am doing something for Eddie; I can still be his mummy even though he’s not here.
This afternoon I met a friend who has gone through the same tragic loss as we have but under different circumstances. I don’t know if it’s fate, luck or coincidence that she lives only a few doors down from us but I’m grateful to have her in my life. Not only has she gone on to have 2 more children but she understands exactly what I’m going through. It shows me that she has survived, and with that survival, has found happiness again. I always leave feeling inspired. And even though it may not last long, it’s a moment of light.
It’s been a tough week away, which is such a shame as we really are in the most beautiful, idyllic setting. We used to go away on holiday, to get away from it all, to have a break. But the trouble with grief is that it travels with you, wherever you go. You can’t escape it. And to be honest, I don’t want to. I don’t want to ever stop thinking about Eddie.
I’ve been looking at photos of Eddie every day. Sometimes on my own, sometimes with Chris. I have never truly appreciated the importance of photos until now. Of course, there are memories which are locked away in a safe place in my mind but photos keep other memories alive. They invoke emotions and remind you of moments.
I love these photos of Eddie. It was our last weekend together as a family and we had been at Regents Park that afternoon. We just finished bath time and Chris and I were getting him ready for his bed time feed. He was making silly faces at us and I was giggling as Chris took photos. We were so happy. Blissfully unaware that would be our last weekend together.
Photos can also prompt other memories. Looking at these photos reminds me of the conversations I used to have with Eddie in the morning. “What is mummy going to dress you in today bubba?” or “What has Daddy dressed you in this morning? Silly Daddy.” Eddie would just kick his legs and gurgle at me. I used to tell him that when he was old enough he could choose his own clothes but for now, he would have to make do with his mummy’s taste in fashion.
Life wasn’t meant to be like this. We had everything perfectly planned from the moment we found out I was pregnant. We planned the house move, the family car, the car seat, the buggy, the nursery, the family holiday, and so on and so on. In fact, even before I was pregnant I was constantly making plans.
But life hasn’t worked out as we had planned. Life is terribly unfair.
We are now embarking on a new life, a new life without our darling baby boy. I’m not sure what this new life looks like but I’m certainly not making any grand plans. One thing’s for sure, I’m not the same person anymore. I’m sceptical of life, untrusting of what it may bring. I’m utterly heart broken. And I want my baby back.
But Eddie isn’t coming back. However hard I cry, however hard I pray, I have to accept that Eddie isn’t coming back in this life time. I have to accept that I will never know why his life was cut so short even if we are given a medical answer.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to believe that Eddie’s still with me; his soul is with me even if I can’t see him in the physical sense. I want to believe that he’s in heaven, that someone is looking after him, maybe he’s looking after me. And more importantly, I want to believe that one day, we’ll be together again.
It’s been 5 weeks since Eddie was stolen from me. 5 weeks since he was taken and not returned. I use the word stolen as he was taken without permission. Nobody checked with me first. A baby needs his mummy. Eddie needed me and actually, I needed Eddie.
If time is meant to be a healer, then why do I feel worse today? Every day that goes by I feel further away from Eddie and all I am longing for is to be with him. To hold him in my arms. To smell him, to kiss him, to tell him how much I love him.
Grief is not a linear process. Every small step you take forward, an unexpected force pushes you back. You feel as if you are tentatively walking towards the sea, you see the waves ahead of you but for a moment you feel the calm. You are close enough to the shoreline, in the water, but still standing. Then a huge wave crashes over you, immersing you in the cold salty water, its force pushing you back to shore. Back to where you started. You clamber up through the sand. Breathless, exhausted, drenched with tears.
I said to Chris today “I feel like we are existing but not living” Everything I lived for seems so insignificant now.
Life is just about getting through the minutes, the hours and getting through the days. Mornings are the worst. I wake up and for a split millisecond I feel ok before that sinking feeling returns with an almighty thump. You know that feeling when you wake up from a terrible nightmare? That feeling of relief that it was just a dream? Well, my nightmare is real. I am living my nightmare every. single. day.
Chris and I are in the process of setting up a charity called ‘Teddy’s Wish’. We are going to raise funds to help support other grieving families and further research into SIDS, neonatal death and stillbirth. Teddy’s Wish is giving me a reason to get through the day when I question how I’m going to get through it. It’s giving me something to do for Eddie. It’s keeping his memory alive.
My dad said I need to try and hold on to moments of light. Each time I experience even a flicker of light, I should write these down and hopefully, in time, those moments of light will get brighter. Teddy’s Wish and writing this blog are moments of light.
I’ve decided to play tennis again – another moment of light. I think it will be good for me. I used to play every weekend before I fell pregnant and it was part of my identity. Tennis is the only thing I can do at the moment that doesn’t have any association with me being a mum. Except of course when I try and squeeze in to my old tennis gear. But, I still think it will be good for me.
Chris and I went to buy a new tennis racquet this morning. He told me how excited he used to get when he was a young boy buying a new sports kit. He then broke down saying he would never be able to buy Eddie his first cricket bat. That’s not the only thing we’ll never get a chance to do. We’ll never buy his first rugby ball nor his first tennis racquet. We’ll never hear him say his first words and never see him take his first step. I’ll never hear him call me mummy…
But he will always be my son.
A friend of mine sent these words to me today that aptly describes the pain I am feeling.
“This on the other hand is like a hand reaching into your chest and ignominiously ripping out your heart…and anything else that gets in the way. The wound is violent, and open and ragged. How can it ever heal? How can we even try to explain it?”