|Tree Planting at Grace's resting place|
I was reminded by Siobhan that when we started attending a support group for parents of still born children, organised by Kent SANDS, one of the things that was raised by some of these parents was how things got suddenly more difficult around the 7/8 month mark. At the time this was something I couldn't understand. Our grief was so raw, our experience so fresh, how could things get worse? And yet somehow it did.
Maybe it was dealing with the fact that life goes on and a routine is once again establishing itself in our minds and bodies; and yet there is something,deep inside, playing with the emotional weight of our new reality that doesn't want to acknowledge that life 'just goes on'. The tectonics of this internal landscape causes emotional tremors of a brand new variety.
Perhaps it is that whenever I see sisters now, my mind immediately starts to wonder what Alannah and Grace's relationship would be like at this stage. The one they have now is beautiful but tragically one sided.
"you are great, I think you'll like this" Alannah told her sister when we planted a crabapple tree at the head of Grace's grave.
By extension we can't help wondering if Grace's milestones would compare to Alannah's.
At 6 months Alannah was standing so at 6 months from Grace's birth…we wondered. At 9 months Alannah was walking confidently...we wondered. That wondering makes for a lonely and unsatisfying journey.
A baby doesn't do much for the first couple months of its life, but very soon begins to respond and reach for you and return your love. Sometimes I imagine I can feel her holding me tight but its a figment, pure guesswork. Whenever I see a lively baby I have to ask how old it is, it gives me an idea of what I might be watching, touching feeling…maybe.
Every night, wether Alannah is asleep or not I kiss her and tell her how loved she is. Alannah closes her eyes and smiles and you can visibly see security settle around her like a blanket; And it galls me that i can't whisper that to Grace and see the love light in her eyes.
All these things I thought I knew but now,I know, and I think I've worked out why time doesn't heal. Just when you think you have come to terms with your living child's mannerisms and habits, they change. In th same way, just when I think I've figured out how I deal with all of this, I change, what my dead daughter would have been changes.
You get used to being a parent to a living child but it has it's challenges doesn't it. It's suddenly hit me that being a parent of a dead child although very different is so very horribly similar.
And it suddenly hits us that Grace has been dead for as long as she was alive.
Finally, as we have just had Mothering Sunday, I want to say this to all those Mothers who know the pain of what I'm describing.
You are Mothers
Don't let anyone, including yourself tell you different.
You know the pain of childbirth
They say we are letting go of our children from the moment they are born but you had to do that all at once
You have strength though it doesn't feel like it
You have immeasurable love though you feel like it has nowhere to go
You have life though it feels like its dulled.
Have no doubt that though you have no little body to hold
You are without doubt Mothers
Wonderful, glorious, terribly sad, but inspirational Mothers
I bow to you