At the weekend, I had an epiphany.
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.
They laughed and giggled and splashed… together. Not father and son, or father and daughter, but all three just having fun.
Then they got out, dried off, ate some food and ran around the garden playing games with the dog.
It was then I had a kind of ‘opening’ in my mind. It was like an insight into our future. I liken it to an epiphany as it was truly the first time in 15 months that I felt with any certainty that we would one day accept our loss – or rather allow our children to accept our loss. I felt almost a step away from grief!
The loss of Abi was still there but as I looked on at them laughing I could see there was hope for us, for them… to have a happy life. My son and daughter are old enough to remember Abi, they are old enough to feel the pain of losing her, yet they are also young enough to heal, young enough to move on.
As I cuddled our new baby, I considered the mutual love they feel for him. They can both share in the joy of him without their rivalry getting in the way, without the ‘mess’ and pressure that is the loss of Abi hanging over them. The baby has brought them a new start.
I had a desire like I’ve never felt to give them a new kind of life. One that gives them time to be young and carefree. One that allows them to laugh without feeling guilty. One that allows them to grow with fond memories of happy days, not the gloom of death that has surrounded them for so long. But I also know how strong we, as their parents, have to be in order to achieve this.
Abi’s death changed us all – in some ways without us noticing, in other ways with more deliberate effort. The changes have been necessary for our survival. It’s not about forgetting Abi, it’s about trying to find a way of living without her, a way that allows us to live too.
We need to remember Abi, and we will. But it’s my job, as her mother, to do the mourning, to do the comforting, to do the remembering… I need to start parenting my other children with greater purpose and positivity (though I know that will be hard to achieve constantly and without personal pain, I’m only human after all).
It’s important to us that they all remember her, and I’m confident that they will, but they are just children, who live at a different pace, they don’t need to live in the shadow of her life, or her death. They are unique. The time to discuss everything about what their beautiful big sister gave them will come in time, when they and we are much older.