There are very few things in any person’s life that are ‘permanent’ … There’s not a lot that can happen to a person that is guaranteed to last forever, as much as people like to wish certain things will. To date, there are six things in my life that are ‘permanent’ – that will last until I take my last breath. The beat in my heart; the fact I’m a mum; the love I have for my children; the tattoos on my body; the death of my son and the longing I feel for him.
The beat in my heart is something I now refuse to take for granted. I did that with Otis. I assumed because he’d made it past 12 weeks of pregnancy that we were ‘safe’ … That his heartbeat was now guaranteed to stay and it’d remain until he was old and grey. I assumed that his heartbeat would exist long past mine stopping. I assumed that his heartbeat was something I’d never have to question – that it just, IS. How wrong was I?
35 weeks. That’s how long Otis lived. His heart had been beating for around 29-30 of those weeks, as it doesn’t start until 5-6 weeks of pregnancy. 29-30 measly weeks is how long his heart pumped life around his body. 35 weeks is the tiny amount of time I had out of the rest of my entire life to enjoy my son alive.
I’m 22 years old; I’m young. The one thing I now HATE about being a young parent is knowing I still have maybe 50+ years left to live. That’s maybe 50+ years of life that I know I will spend thinking about what could, should and would have been had Otis lived. It destroys me, knowing that I have to wait such a long time to see Otis again. I shouldn’t ‘look forward’ to death, just because I feel, I believe, I will hold him again that day. I believe I will hold him in my arms again the day I die. Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I suicidal, in no way do I WANT to leave the Earth – but a part of me cannot wait till that day just to see Otis with his eyes open.
Yesterday I had a tattoo done for Otis. I have many, but this one resonates with me more than the rest. I decided on a winged mummy holding her angel baby because I remain optimistic that this will be Otis and I one day – I keep the hope that I will hold him in my arms again when I join him; that’s the only thing that keeps me going. The only comfort I have regarding Otis is the thought that I will see him again, and every time I look at this tattoo it’ll be a reminder of that; that when I grow my wings, I will join him.
The fact I’m a mum is permanent. My two beautiful little girls, Cora and Maisie, made me a mummy 4 and a half years ago and I haven’t looked back. I had them while I was still at sixth form and it’s been the most testing 4 years of my life. I was judged, a LOT, when I got pregnant at 17 with twins but dealing with those comments and jibes has only made me stronger. I like to think I’m a good mum to the girls, as well as Otis. I do all I possibly can for them. I would happily take my last breath for any of my children. All I want is for them to be happy and content – and they seem to be. My children are my entire world; all three of them. Cora and Maisie are my strength to get through this. They are my motivation to do something beneficial with the rest of my life. I genuinely do not know what I would do or where I would be without these two perfect little girls in my life. They are my best friends; we do everything together.
With having other children comes questions. It’s one of the things I’ve really struggled with since Otis passed away. Most days the girls’ conversations about Otis are happy and excitable – they’re amazed they have a special brother who has become an angel in Heaven; they’re amazed that he was hand picked to become an angel and that he comes down to give them kisses every single night. But, some days, they cry. They’re four years old and they know and understand what’s happened. They are aware that 7 and a half weeks ago mummy had their baby brother alive and kicking in her tummy, and now he’s in Heaven. They are aware that, one day Otis was kicking and the next, he wasn’t. They felt him move; he kicked them off my tummy every time they led on me. They came shopping to pick his coming home outfit that turned out to be the one and only baby grow he would ever wear. The girls have been involved in my pregnancy since day 1, and they continue to be involved with keeping Otis’ memory alive now he isn’t here.
The death of my little boy is permanent. That is something that is NEVER going to go away. It’s never going to change. It doesn’t matter how much I wish or hope or BEG for this to change; it’s not going to. My son is dead. My son is gone; he is buried and he is never coming back. That hurts. That really fucking hurts.
Otis’ headstone. This is a new permanent addition to my life. It was placed yesterday. I cannot begin to put in to words how heart breaking it was to see this for the first time. I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to feel. I am happy that Otis has his ‘home’ .. I’m happy that I have something I can look at, speak to and sing to when I go up to see him .. I’m happy because having his headstone there makes it HIS place. But I hate that, instead of putting Otis in to bed at night, giving him a kiss and whispering ‘goodnight, I love you’ into his ear like I do with the girls – I will be giving his headstone a kiss, and saying goodnight to his stone instead.
I like to think that Otis passing wasn’t the end of him. I like to think that his spirit surrounds me, that it’s somewhere in the atmosphere and he hears me when I tell him I love him. I HOPE he hears me when I tell him I love him. I hope he knows how loved and missed he is. I hope he knows how much his family long to hold him. I hope he knows that he will never, ever be forgotten. I really do. It scares me, the thought of him not knowing that.
This is why I work so hard in keeping my little boy’s memory alive. This is why I make sure to mention his name daily & speak about him to the girls, my family and friends as though he is here. Because he DID exist. He DID grace this Earth. He’s my son and I am his mummy – the distance between us does not change that and will never change that.
I will make it my duty as his mummy to ensure Otis’ memory lives as long as I. And I like to think the little legacy he’s leaving on this Earth will live long after that.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; we miss you, we love you, we will do both eternally.