As friends and family head off on half term holidays, I’m glad to have a relaxing week ahead with my children. But I feel a slight pang of envy, as I know we are in need of a proper holiday, but with the new baby I’d not had the strength to plan one.
Who needs strength to plan a holiday? It’s the highlight of the year right?
I’m sure every grieving parent struggles with making holiday plans. Holidays are the epitome of making happy memories… and we feel lost. We can’t shrug off our grief like most forget the stress of work. Our grief comes with us… in bucketfuls!
Perhaps it was because I’d just told my six-year-old son that he looked a bit like Abi when he gave me a cheeky grin. It wasn’t to make him feel sad, it just slipped out. Is it bad to say things like that? I don’t know.
Last night, my son was getting ready for bed and was in his bedroom. He’d been quiet for a while and came into my room where I was feeding my baby son on my bed.
Today, I was interviewed by Anna King from BBC Radio Gloucestershire for her lunchtime show.
I was invited to be interviewed last year not long after Abi died, but I could only cope with contributing to articles in the paper then, it was too soon to speak of it without cracking. Now that my blog has grown, when I was approached recently by the production team, it felt right.
It was probably the easiest interview in my life, as of course I had the pleasure of talking about Abi and my blog. It is always hard to talk about her in the past tense, but I held it together and I’m really pleased with how it went.
I’m sharing the link on here (available until 29th May) as it might be nice to put a voice to the words. My interview starts at 14.15.
As the weather was hot, we got out the paddling pool and spent time in the garden. The first time this year.
At first, the children were reluctant to join in (much to my hubbie’s annoyance as he’d spent the best part of the morning getting the pool up and filled). But it wasn’t long before the temptation of the cool water beckoned and they relaxed, got in and had a good splash around with dad.
For those minutes, I could hear nothing but squeals and laughter and, rather than hush them up, I wanted to turn it up! It was like music to my ears.
These words were hard to write (just a month after Abi died last year), and I expect are just as hard to read. But talking about dying matters to me.
I know there are other parents going through this every day – saying goodbye to their baby or child, whatever age, whether expected or not.
No matter what brings them to this day, at the very end, they will only die once and, as much as I am more likely now to remember the happier days with my daughter, her life, I feel her death was also a significant moment that should not be forgotten simply because it is too painful to remember. I share this experience knowing that, right now, a parent is going through the same heartache. I hope they find this and it brings them comfort knowing they’re not alone.
It was around 6.30am. The staff were quiet and respectful. The consultant apologised when she told us that there would be a further delay of an hour as a baby had just been rushed into the theatre unexpectedly. But we were okay with this. It was still dark outside. We didn’t want Abi to pass away in the dark, she was a morning, sunny girl. So we said that about 8am would be our preference, when the sun was coming up and the dusky gloom had lifted…
As Dying Matters Week draws to a close, I wanted to share with you my personal experience of organ donation. It’s vital we feel able to talk about aspects of death like this. I have shared, in quite some detail, the process that is necessary in order to donate organs to another – a dilemma we were faced with when Abi died (so grab a coffee and a tissue!). If you are considering joining the organ donation register, you may find this post useful. It contains details of the steps involved and how complex the process is, which was something we certainly never realised until we were there.
Abi had collapsed into a coma following a sudden brain haemorrhage at home. The prognosis wasn’t good but the brilliant neuro surgeons at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol operated on her anyway the same night; she had just a 5% chance of survival at that point, but any percentage was enough to give us a slim hope.
Today, my husband and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss. 15 years, wow!
I can still remember how I felt back then, 15th May 1999; how nervous I was on our wedding day, but how certain I was too.
We always mark our anniversaries. We think it’s our special day to remind ourselves where our love started and to celebrate all we’ve been through together – good and bad.
We give each other cards and sometimes gifts if it’s a special number. We write loving messages in our cards to say those things we don’t always find time to say (which now get a snigger from our children!). We’ve certainly had our challenges over the years, but even when we’ve been pushed to near breaking point we have kept tight the invisible thread that holds us together.
Of course we don’t like talking about death and our mortality. It’s depressing for a start, not to mention bringing up painful emotions, or making us realise we’re not getting any younger.
I can recall rolling my eyes at my husband for wanting to sort out our life insurance, booooring! Why can’t we talk about holidays instead? We only wrote our wills a couple of years ago, with three children at that point we felt it probably about time. If I’m honest, it wasn’t nearly as depressing a task as I thought, in fact it felt quite good to know my children were protected should we die while they still needed us to care for them.
Some days I feel a heavy sense of confusion with my grief and the effort of trying to hold myself and my family together with some kind of normality. Yet, it’s often on days like this, when a sort of gloom has set in, that I receive an unexpected message of comfort.
It could be a school friend writing a note to Abi on her RIP page on Facebook, wishing her well in heaven, letting her know she’s not forgotten. A kind word from a friend, something I read, or a sign I see in the beauty of nature around me: a golden sunset, a bird building a nest in our garden, a forget-me-not…
At the weekend, I received a message from a friend who wanted to relay a story of how Abi had touched her family that week. With kind permission, she has allowed me to share this on my blog.