To the Mummy at the cemetery,
I saw you today, sobbing at the cemetery. Your babies grave so fresh and new, the flowers you so lovingly picked out now wilting and dying, a sad reminder of how nothing lasts forever.
There was a fleeting moment where our eyes met, a small nod of the head as we smiled through our tears, an unspoken exchange of sympathy, of sadness, a reluctant resignation that we were both in this together.
I watched you clear away the leaves that had formed on the graveside, sweeping them aside in a flurry of colour, in the exact same way that I do. You took out a baby wipe and cleaned away the rainwater that was forming on the headstone and I could not help but wonder had you bought those wipes for your baby, had you stocked up the nursery with nappies and outfits, now packed away in boxes, too painful to look at.
I watched you standing there staring down at the grave, your face wracked with grief, dabbing furiously at the tears that spilled from your eyes. And I noticed your hair, still unbrushed, your eyes red and swollen, the hem of your skirt trailing in the mud, and I saw myself, ten years earlier, still caught up in a world of grief, of anger and despair and the fear that life will never go back to normal.
And the harsh reality is that it won’t, not ever, but you will discover a new kind of normal. You’ll find a way to go about your day, just as before. You’ll get out of bed, get dressed, put on your face and go about your day in exactly the same way, as though nothing at all has changed. And yet, inside, you will know that everything, absolutely everything, has changed.
And that first year is hard, so unbearably hard, when that grief is still so raw and you can’t see a way through. Birthdays, Christmas, your first Mothers Day without your little one, the pain is agonising, and yet day by day, one foot in front of the other, you will get through it.
You will smile, you will laugh and in time you will discover that life can still be fun, that there is so much ahead of you to be excited about. And then you will beat yourself up all over again that you have enjoyed yourself, that for a split second you allowed yourself to feel happy, that you have somehow betrayed your baby in having a moment that wasn’t entirely consumed by grief and sadness.
You may go on to have more children, who you will love with all of your heart, but they will not take away from your pain, or replace the baby that you lost. They will help you when it physically hurts to breathe, when your arms feel empty and you just need someone to hold. You will watch them grow with a bittersweet feeling that your little one never got the chance to, and you will look at them and inevitably think, what would he have been like, what would our lives have been like with him in it?
As I watched you leave, your face wracked with pain and sadness, I imagined that once you were safe in your car you would allow yourself to let out those angry, desperate sobs of despair, and you would drive away, bleary eyed, asking yourself why? Why me? Why my baby? And my heart broke for you, it really did.
To the Mummy at the cemetery, I wanted to tell you that it will all be okay, I really did, and yet I couldn’t. Because it wont be okay, not ever, but you will survive this and that is the most important thing to remember.