It has only been 3 months and already, I think of how different my future is going to be compared to what I expected. I think about how I’m going to be alone on the days Cora and Maisie are in school, instead of being at home snuggling and nursing a 3 month old baby. I think about how I have already missed your first smile. I’m close to missing your first laugh … is there someone with you who saw you smile, Otis? Is there someone with you who will witness your first giggle? Is there someone with you to tickle your teeny toes to make you giggle?
As I dressed your sisters in their uniform I felt just one tear roll down my cheek. I didn’t want to overshadow their first day at ‘big school’ with the fact you’ll never have that. You’re never going to have your first day at ‘big school’ … I didn’t want to send them to school with an upset face, knowing I’ll never walk you in to that playground for your first day. I wanted to share their excitement. I wanted to walk them in to their classroom with a happy face because this is the start of the rest of their lives – this is where it all begins and I want them to enjoy it.
I sit and think about all the ‘firsts’ I have experienced with the girls. I think about their first word, their first teeth, their first shoes, their first smile, their first laugh, their first meal, their first day of nursery, their first Christmas, their first birthday … and then I find myself thinking about how I will never experience those with you.
It runs through my mind, over and over and over again, like a broken record. It is there, at the forefront of my mind, constantly. All I can think about is how, instead of experiencing your ‘firsts’, we got your ‘lasts’ …
I think about I had my first cuddle with you, but I also had my last cuddle with you; and, in turn, I remember how tightly I squeezed you to my chest. I think about the first time I felt your soft skin against mine, when you were placed silent and still on to my chest, then I think about last time I felt soft skin as I stroked your hand and cheek before walking away from you in the funeral home. I think about our first hello when I saw your perfect face for the first time, then I think about our last goodbye, as I whispered in to your ear that you are so loved and I promised you that you didn’t have to be scared. I think about the first time I put you to bed in your crib in the hospital, then I think about the last time I put you to bed, in the moses basket that you would rest in until your funeral day. I think about the last time I ever laid you to rest, as your tiny blue coffin was lowered in to the ground.
It isn’t fair, that every first I ever got with you led to the last.
I often think about the first time I ever dressed you. My dad, your grandad Anthony, gently placed you on the bed in front of me. I carefully pealed back the blanket that was wrapped around you, keeping you warm. I slowly took off your baby grow and changed your dirty nappy. I gave you a little clean, then I put a clean nappy on you. I kept your vest on, so you’d have an extra layer to keep you cosy. I gently lifted your arms and placed them in to the arms of your outfit. I turned you, very carefully, on to your side to pull your outfit round the back of you. I couldn’t fasten it, I didn’t want to lift you too much because you had become so fragile by this point. I put on your woolly hat, to make sure your head didn’t get cold. I wrapped you back in to your thick blanket, ensuring I covered your feet. It was the last time I ever dressed you. It was the last time I ever wrapped you up.
I am constantly being told that time is a great healer. I don’t like to think about the concept of time. It scares me. I don’t want to consider living another 50+ years without you.
They say that time on Earth changes in Heaven … Days become milliseconds, years become seconds. I really hope that’s true. I really hope that, by the time I see you again, only 50/60 seconds (not years) have passed wherever you are, and that the first time you open your eyes, it’ll be my face you see.
I worry so much about you, you know. It is my duty, my instinct, to protect you and I can’t. I lay awake at night wondering whether you’re warm enough. I cry, at the thought of you being cold because you don’t have enough blankets wrapped round you. I wonder whether your teddy is in constant reach. I get scared that it may have fallen off your chest and I wouldn’t want you to not be able to cuddle it. I worry that you’re not settled, because I didn’t leave a dummy with you in your coffin, and it constantly has me thinking that I hope you have found your thumb. Are you okay, Otis? I just need to know that you are.
I need to know that you’re doing fine. I need to know that you know how LOVED and how MISSED you are. I need to know that you aren’t alone. I need to know that you don’t feel like I let you down. I need to know that you forgive me for not being able to bring you Earthside alive. I need to know that you know I did all I could to ensure you were healthy.
Your physical self may not be here, but you are here. You’re constantly here. You’re the first thing I think about when I open my eyes in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I close my eyes at night, alongside your big sisters. You’re at the forefront of my mind. I think about you in everything that we do. It’s been a warm day today, and all I have thought about is how we would be going for a long walk in the sun while Cora and Maisie are at school. I’ve thought about how I would take you out of your pram to show you the ducks in the nearby river. I’ve thought about how I would settle you through stroking your face if you got upset. I’ve thought about how I would snuggle you in to my chest and nurse you if you got hungry …
I treasure every second I get to spend on Earth with your big sisters. I am trying my hardest to make the most of every day with them, and I will continue to do so for as long as I live. But, Otis, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat looking forward to my time coming to an end, just to see you again. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to cradling you in my arms and planting a kiss on your little wrinkly old man forehead.
I cannot wait to see you again.
I love you sweet boy, more than words.