The week before Jude died we went out for a night time walk to deliver Christmas cards.
It was a cold, clear night and we spent a long time looking in the sky for our favourite constellation, Orion’s Belt.
Jude was grumpy and he wanted to get home so he just kept complaining that he couldn’t see it. He even claimed that he didn’t know what it was.
The night we came home from the hospital without him, there they were, the only visible stars in the sky shining right over our house.
They stayed there for most of the winter and every night before bed Isla and I would look up to them and say goodnight to Jude. You can’t see Orion’s Belt in the summer but now that the nights are darker again, it’s back. If you look up and see it, please think about our sparkly little boy.
It’s not nice having to plan a funeral for your precious child. I guess that goes without saying and I won’t go into detail about the ins and outs. What I will say is that during the time we were planning Jude’s funeral we were constantly being surprised by the amount of people who tried to make things easier.
The priest (who 2 months prior we were out drinking with) who opened his door on Christmas Eve to find our wee diminished family on his doorstep and hugged us all closely before helping us piece together our next move. He already knew what had happened and he told us he was so glad that we’d come. We clearly had no idea what to do next and he very gently talked us through what had to happen.
The copy shop where we had the order of service printed. I’d asked for a quote for 300 copies on their best card and I told them I’d email the details of the printing later that day. When I went to collect them, they had cut the price to less than a quarter of the quote. I can only assume that when they saw what was to be printed they decided to do it at cost.
The newspaper announcement is free in my city when it’s a child.
The funeral director who sat patiently with us and talked about all our options. She was so kind and let us take our time with our decisions. Then the bill came in two weeks after the funeral all the costs were waived apart from the casket and that was only because we’d chosen the wicker one rather than standard white.
The hundreds of people who came to the funeral. I can’t say how much it meant to us to have the support of, not only the friends and family who are close to us, but so many friends I hadn’t seen since my school days, children and families that we’ve both taught and David’s football team who all showed up together in such a strong and supportive sign of solidarity with our family.
All of these things along with the visitors, food deliveries, flowers and cards from so many people (including a very personal one from the Cardinal which managed to stay away from preachy and stuck to compassion) have helped us to cope. There’s nothing that can take away the complete and absolute pain of living my life without Jude but the compassion and support from those around us helped me to cope in those bleak early days.
It’s a stark contrast from the support we’ve had from the medical profession but that’s another decidedly less positive post for another day.
At first I thought that nothing would help. I looked out the window and the whole world seemed to have shifted. I felt as though I was standing at the edge of life and looking at everything from a different angle. I couldn’t get warm, I couldn’t sit still and my concentration was all over the place. I was surviving minute by minute, living on my nerves and hopes of things getting better didn’t even enter my mind.
Gradually though I started to come back. I needed to hold onto Jude’s sooky (NooNoo) at all times and I couldn’t bear to be alone. Through my tears I had developed a stutter and I wondered if it would be with me forever, but I was coming back. It was around the time that I started to keep this blog.
Something that helped in the early days was going for really long walks. The exercise and fresh air gave me an appetite and helped me to sleep and it helped me to get out of the house. I honestly think that I’d have gone mad if I had to stay at home all day. Later, when I was back at work I found that leaving early and going to collect Isla from school helped give me something to look forward to. Now of course I have a baby to look forward to and as terrifying as that is it’s also kept me healthy and sober for these last eight months and as much as I can’t visualise it living and breathing in my house it’s given us all some hope. Sharing and swapping experiences of grief with other mothers has helped keep me sane and made me appreciate that we are all going through the same things and coping in different ways.
The thing that helps most though is talking about my boy. Saying his name and laughing at the funny things he did makes things better. My friends are still listening and nobody seems to shy away from talking about him. I’m so grateful to have people that are better than I would’ve been if the roles were reversed.