Before last December I had never written about my feelings before. It wasn’t something I felt I needed to do and to be honest I found “sharing” every thought a bit self indulgent. But back then, in my naivety before these things became real for me I didn’t want to hear sad stories or to admit that life wasn’t something that could be controlled, planned and organised like a school forward plan. How many children shall we have? Where should we go on holiday next year? What should we eat tomorrow evening?
Now though, I’m fully initiated into a world I never wanted to acknowledge, a world where people cope with terrible ordeals, worries and pain and they selflessly share their experiences online for people like me to read. Now I understand that it isn’t self-indulgent in the way that 140 characters can tell me what Will.I.Am had for breakfast or what’s pissing off Stephen Fry today. It is a lifeline to so many people who are desperately clinging on to the hope that things get better. Not the same, they are all at great pains to point out, but better than they are now.
My network of survivors have become like a security blanket when I’m having a good day and a life raft when I’m at my lowest and sadly it’s a big network. Deprived of access to wifi I become the only one in the room who has lost a child. I feel exposed, pitied and critiqued, I am a reminder to people that bad things happen.
I was at a wedding this weekend and although I knew it would be difficult, I don’t think I was prepared for how hard the whole day would be. It was a huge occasion with too many relatives and not enough friends but it was exactly the kind of wedding I would’ve loved last year. Obviously I wasn’t drinking and I might’ve felt better if I’d had a glass of wine but the whole day was like a balancing act of emotions. Don’t look too happy, people will think you’re all better now. Don’t look miserable for god’s sake, it’s a wedding. Guests were keen to pat my expanding stomach and tell me how happy they are for us and ask how I was feeling “with the pregnancy,” making sure that I wouldn’t misunderstand and start to unload my grief on them over Pimms on the lawn (as if).
I have been exhausted all weekend from the effort of smiling through the Mass, whilst burying my nails into my palms to stave off the tears and making small talk with people I haven’t seen in a million years. As occasions without Jude go it was probably the longest and hardest. But, and there’s always a but, I’ve done it. It will surely be easier the next time just like the second school run, the second trip to the cinema and all the other unbearable things we’ve had to do without him. Tomorrow we go on our first family only holiday without my boy and I can only say that I’m looking forward to it being done.
As a very wise friend reminded me recently, “if you’re going through Hell, keep going”