Apologies for the lack of relevance to natural products and the like, but for a few weeks there has been something really playing on my mind. Something very sad happened over the summer that made a rather significant impact on my outlook on life and how I look at Peanut. It has taken a while for me to get these words out but I feel that they should be said, they deserve their space online and they do justice to a subject that’s all too often, glossed over for fear of the awkward moment it most certainly creates. The tears that it draws out of us, and the sheer terror that a mother may feel when faced with the possibility that it could happen to any one of us, is something that we can’t just blissfully avoid.
The sudden and unexpected death of a child.
Since being a baby, Peanut has attended swimming lessons and over the course of the 3+ years that she has been splashing about in the pool, we have made friends. We’d see each other once a week and have an idle chat about utter shite and then go off and play out the rest of the week in the way each family does. When my job changed, I had to change the group that Peanut would swim in and so that meant a new group of kids to swim with for Peanut, and a new set of mums for me to chat with. Only I don’t have much time for these new mums… they talk about all of their money and all of their horses and all of their holiday homes. These kind of people bore me with their lust for ‘things’ rather than life itself. They’re what I like to call dickheads and I like to distance myself from them. So whilst sitting in silence amidst a gaggle of gruesome gluttons, I often thought about those ladies that I so enjoyed the company of. Some, I was lucky enough to regularly talk to outside of the pool, but others I would only see in passing with a quick ‘Hello’.
Over the summer I received the sad news that one of the children that Peanut swam with had been very poorly. Unfortunately due to his illness he tragically passed away. This has sent a shockwave of sadness through our small but close community of swim mums, and reached the thoughts of those beyond. A thousand emotions came to me at once and before long, this little boy was not only filling my mind, but my eyes with tears. There really can be nothing more tragic, unfair and unexpected than the grief that comes with the loss of a child. Often we read about these things in the news and see them in a report on TV, but something always stops our mind from processing that single thought; ‘What if that were me? what if that were my child?’
I simply can’t bring myself to type the words or even say them out loud, but when this is a child that you knew, and a mother that you know, you cannot ignore the reality that it could be you grieving right now. While I can’t bring myself to say it, I feel it and it hurts. Deeply.
When I lost my mum I remember very vividly, me sat in the living room surrounded by family and I said ‘we’re going to be ok’ and we were… over ten years later the metaphorical scars are there but the cuts are as healed as they can be. The marks are a reminder of the pain and suffering that we as a family experienced and show that it’ll not be the same again and we can’t pretend that it will. We adapt, we accept but we never EVER forget. Did it make us stronger? as individuals perhaps, but as a collective – absolutely. But on my own when the trigger is pulled and I’m sat with nothing but silence and the reminder of ‘that day’, then strong is not a word I’d call myself. Sometimes I’ve never felt weaker but I’m dragged through it and find the strength to stand up and carry on as normal. It’s a funny thing really, all the cliche words that you associate with loss and recovery – strength, carrying on, picking yourself up – they make sense, but only come into their own with one critically important ingredient.
Without my support network I’d have failed. I’d have failed in my work, in my friendships and relationships. I’d have failed in carrying on and who knows where I’d be today. It’s not something I like to think about, but the loss of beautiful little R was a stark reminder that I’ve been there and I remember that feeling so, so clearly. I felt empty, literally empty as if someone had scooped out my insides and left a hollow space where my happiness used to live. I was full of light and love, and it was quickly extinguished without a thought and took such a long time to start glowing again. But it did glow, it came back and its brighter that it ever was.
I think about my swim mums and what they are to this wonderful and inspiring woman. A small support. We’re not scaffolding that holds up the entire structure, nor are we a glue that binds everything together. We’re blu-tack. We’re on the wall and there when we’re needed. Sometimes we drop off because we’re a bit shit and dry up, but a good, warm squeeze and a rub and we’re golden. My sanctuary was in the people I surrounded myself with, not necessarily those that I had grown up with or my family – but those that felt the pain from a distance and somehow understood. She’s often in my thoughts and today for the first time, I saw her. I know how hard the mask is to wear on a daily basis, so soon afterward, but if you’re reading this – you should be proud of yourself, you all should.
Since his funeral I’ve realised how precious our babies are, everyones babies; no matter who they are or where they’re from. I hold Peanut a little longer at night, give her those extra kisses that she wants, and stare at her a while longer while she sleeps. Im so lucky that I have her and I’ll never ever take her for granted. She’s my reason for living and without her I’d be incomplete.
I don’t think i’ll ever forget that little boy. He’s not the sort that anyone could forget. Forever smiling and knowing little else of the world he left, but love.
RIP, little man.