Okay, so this may seem completely crazy to people who have never been in this situation … But I’ve had a really tough few days. Don’t get me wrong, every single day living without my baby is tough, but some days more than others. I’ve been in a ‘strange’ mood over the last couple of weeks that I just cannot seem to snap out of. I’ve been quiet, I’ve been withdrawn, I haven’t been speaking to people, and I just haven’t known how to handle how I have felt at all.
So, instead, I’ve embraced it.
I accept that this is my reality now. I accept that I’m going to have waves of anger and sadness about the death of my child. I accept that I’m going to have days during which I feel guilty for laughing and smiling and joking, because it feels wrong after burying my son. I accept that I’m going to have days where I feel like I’m on quite a level ground – like I’m ‘coping’ …
I seem to be stuck on a wave of intense anger and sadness at the moment. I don’t mind, so much. I know that it’s normal and I know that I have to have these days to help me on my journey.
Speaking about Otis, speaking about the reality that I face every single day of living without my (should be 4 month old) baby, it helps me. Raising awareness about living life after loss, living life after experiencing a stillbirth, it makes me feel like I’m honouring my little boy and his existence. I do find that I often put a veil over how I feel and the truth of the situation – I write openly and transparently about it, but it isn’t quite honest.
So in this post I’m going to be completely honest and raw about something I experience on a regular basis that those around me who haven’t ever delivered a sleeping baby may be shocked by. It isn’t going to make for happy reading, it isn’t going to be an easy read, and you may find it upsetting/graphic, so if you’re easily offended then please do not continue …
I came to see you this evening, as I do every night. I read you your usual bedtime story and I lit your candles for you. I noticed that your bed of white stones was a little uneven, so I got the mini shovel out of the boot of my car and I started to level them out a bit. To do so, I had to dig about 2-3 inches in to the ground, to create a little groove in which to place the extra stones.
So I got to my knees and I started digging. I dug down 1 inch … 2 inches … 3 inches … 4 inches … Why wasn’t I stopping? … 5 inches … I wonder how long it will take me to dig right down to your coffin? … 6 inches … I need to see you, Otis. I need to come and get you … 7 inches …
I heard a noise and I stopped. I suddenly clicked back out of this mindset I was in, and I filled 4 of the 7 inches I had dug from your graveside with the dirt that now sat in a pile next to your headstone.
I sat back and cried.
What was I doing? What on Earth was I thinking?
Let me tell you …
I wanted to know you were okay. I wanted to know that you were still there. I wanted to know that you are wrapped up warm. I wanted to know that your teddy is still laying on your chest in your arms for comfort. I wanted to know that you still have your picture of mummy and daddy with you so you can see us all the time. I just wanted to see you, Otis.
I miss you so much. I miss your little face so much. I just want to touch you again and hold you again.
Whenever I come to your graveside to sit with you, to read you stories and to talk to you, I’m no more than 3 feet away from you. At any given point when I’m sat ‘with’ you, you are a matter of inches away from my fingertips and there is nothing I can do about it.
You’re 3 feet away from me, but cuddling you again is a lifetime away.
And sometimes, that gets the better of me. Sometimes I have this deep, innate need to dig down to you. Sometimes that need is so great that I cannot sit with you for a long time or I know that I will. That doesn’t make me crazy – it makes me your mummy.
I have the urges to do that because my need to love you is so intense. You may have been born sleeping Otis, but you were still born. My body still thinks that I have a living baby to nurture and to take care of. My arms ache to feel your weight in them. My chest aches to feel you snuggled in to me. My eyes ache to see you. My fingers ache to touch you. My ears ache to hear you …
I just want you here, so badly. You ARE here, that’s the point. Your physical body is here, within reach. Your physical, cuddleable (yes I made that word up) body is here, and I cannot hold you.
I don’t know whether realising you are only feet away from me is a part of accepting that you’re gone. Is it? Is that how it works? Do I have to ‘realise’ all these things before losing you actually becomes a reality?
I don’t ever want it to be real, Otis.
I want you to come home.
I would give my very last breath this very second, if it meant you taking your first – whether I would be here to witness it or not. I would sacrifice myself in a heartbeat to give your sisters and your daddy and your grandparents and your aunts and uncles the chance to love on you, to play with you, to watch you grow and learn.
But I have to accept that it isn’t going to happen. I know I do. It’s just so hard. I have all these thoughts constantly running through my mind.
How long will it take to dig down to him?
No one will realise if I do it quick enough.
I only want to do it once, I just need to see him one more time.
But then I realise that ‘one more time’ is never going to be enough because I will always want one more. And I know you will have changed. I know you won’t look the same as you did when I saw you for the last time. I know that your precious little body is going to look completely different to what it did 4 months ago … I also know that you would still be beautiful to me.
But that doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is – even if I did dig down to your coffin and open it up to see you once last time, I wouldn’t physically be able to lift you. I actually researched what stage of ‘decomposition’ you will be at right now. Sick? Weird? Creepy? Not to me. I need to know every physical aspect of you, whether you’re here or not, and I know that you’ve reached a stage now where I couldn’t hold your physical body even if I was given the chance. You nearly reached that stage within 4 days of being born.
I haven’t ever told anybody this, but researching human decomposition is something I did before deciding to bury you. When I had to choose between cremation or a burial, I didn’t take that decision lightly. I had to do what I felt would offer the most ‘comfort.’
I learned that, if you were to be buried in a thick, wooden coffin, then complete decomposition of your body could take up to nearly 50 years. That’s partly why I chose for you to be buried and it’s also why I chose for you to be buried in a wooden coffin. To me, in a very strange way maybe, that means that your physical body will exist on Earth for possibly the same length of time that I do. I found comfort in that. I still do.
After telling you that, I feel the need to explain that it isn’t something I sit and read about all the time. I don’t torture myself with what happens to you in death. I just needed to know, as your mummy, exactly what happens to you. I do try and focus on the short time I did have with you. I look at your sweet pictures all the time and I cry over how beautiful you are. You’re just so perfectly peaceful in every single picture ever taken of you; even the ones in which you had turned blue. My little smurf.
I just miss you, Otis. The urge to be your mummy – to physically be your mummy – is just so overwhelming sometimes. I don’t think that makes me crazy; I don’t think that makes me weird or creepy. I simply think it shows that, even in death, a mother’s love – a parent’s love – is infinite. It knows no bounds. It’s immortal. It’s eternal. It’s unconditional.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; sweet boy, you are missed beyond words and loved beyond measure.
I know, regardless of what I read, that when I close my eyes and open them to see your face, that you will be perfect and beautiful and amazing in every sense of the words. I know that you’ll have the biggest and brightest and shiniest angel wings. I cannot wait for you to teach me how to jump on the clouds and play upon rainbows.
Sleep well, sweet dreams.
I love you.