We are in Cornwall for a long weekend, staying at a beautiful guest house overlooking the sea in a town called Mevagissey. Phrases we used when going away do not translate or have the same meaning anymore, e.g. we are going away for a break from work, we need a break from it all or we need a holiday. Grief does not temporarily pause when you go away. Wherever we are, wherever we go, Eddie is always with us. Here in thought and in our hearts.
We have explored the coastal shores and discovered quaint towns and harbours. The weather has been kind, despite our track record of bringing the rain with us. But every time we stop on a walk to soak in the fresh sea air, our heavy hearts pine for our baby boy. All of our discoveries and enjoyments feel incomplete. The scenery is breathtaking but I am yet to find peace in my soul searching.
However, it has been important to spend time with Chris. Just the 2 of us. But I can’t help but think we should be 3. Not 2.
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.
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.