Four years since you came into the world … beautiful, perfect, but silent.
I carried you in my womb for 35 weeks and 1 day; carried you in my arms for 56 hours; and have carried you in my heart ever since.
When you were first born, I was told by so many people that time would heal all wounds and, eventually, I would ‘get over’ losing you. I have come to learn that is not the case, but I also know that it’s okay. The last four years have taught me that this level of grief only comes through relentlessly loving you.
If I could send a letter to myself four years ago, to read shortly after you died, what would I say to myself?
I know you’re hurting; I know your heart is broken, I know you feel like you’re stuck in a place of intense pain that you’re never going to get out of. I know you are wondering how the world is still turning, how people are still smiling, and you’re questioning whether you will ever be able smile again …
And you will.
I promise you, you will. You won’t only smile again but, in time, your heart will open up to feel genuine happiness again too. Your attitude towards happiness and joy will change, but not in a negative way – being taken to the deepest depths of sadness and pain allow you to feel the highest heights of joy too. There are no ‘blessings’ when it comes to your son dying, you’ll tell many people over the next few years how you would trade everything and everyone you have gained in his memory or through his legacy in a heartbeat to have your little boy back home.
But somewhere inside you through the deep, visceral, guttural ache of missing Otis, you will see light between those dark clouds; you will see daffodils among the weeds; the sunshine after the storms. You will appreciate the little things you never did before and see them in an entirely new way – rain falling upon your skin will somehow start feeling a little magical, you’ll smile when you hear birds chirping, you’ll enjoy waking up with the sunrise, and watching a sunset will give you an overwhelming sense of peace.
Friends will come and go – that’s a given in life anyway, but some people will struggle with finding the words to say or worrying about doing the wrong thing. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care (though that will go through your mind a lot over the next couple of years), it just means they aren’t ready to feel those emotions in the way that you do. And that’s okay, because along the way you will meet some of the most beautiful, kind, loving people walking the Earth and they will not only become your friends but they will become your family, too.
Some family members won’t agree with your way of grieving and will, over time, make their way out of your life. The feeling of not agreeing with your expression of love for your son will also not sit well with some friends, and strangers too. That is also okay. Do not let it get to you. Every person’s grief journey is as individual as their fingerprint. What works for others won’t work for you, and what works for you won’t work for others – you do you. You are the only person walking this Earth who is living your pain. You are the only person in the world who is feeling Otis’ death as his mummy, as the one who carried him and felt him moving and dancing in your tummy, only you know how to get through this. Surviving is enough.
You WILL get through this. You won’t ever get over it, that is a given – your baby is not a broken leg, not a bad day, not something you can just forget about. But you will get through it.
Over the next few years of your life you are going to do irrational things and over rational things, you will lose yourself and then find yourself, you will lose people and gain people. You will find your life to be confusing and hard and messy, and wonderful.
Because despite all the pain, your life will be better for having known him. Your heart will be more full for loving him. You will be nothing short of thankful for having carried him.
- Love, Me. Not only surviving, but living, four years later.