Today you would be nine years old and it is hard to believe how that time has passed so quickly.
Nine years ago our world came crashing down on us as we heard the news that you had died.
Nine years ago I lay in that hospital bed, enduring a thirty hour induction, feeling more terrified than I have ever thought possible.
Nine years ago, at 3.44pm you came silently into the world and changed our lives forever.
Nine years ago I held all 5lb of you in my arms, marvelled at all 48 centimetres of you, your mop of black hair, your ruby red lips and your perfect fingers and toes.
Nine years ago I kissed your beautiful face, held you close and told you that I would love and miss you forever.
Nine years ago we closed the door for the very last time and said the most heartbreaking of goodbyes.
Nine years. 108 months, 468 weeks, 3276 long days without you.
And I wont ever be able to put into words just how much it hurts to live a life without you. Everyone was so quick to tell me that, “Time is a healer” and, “It will get easier” and I refute that whole heartedly. It hurts today just as much as it did nine years ago, the pain has never lessened or become easier to bear. I have just got better at learning to live with it.
In some ways it is even harder to deal with in the passing years. Initially, people are very eager to offer you their sympathies, to be a shoulder to cry on and remember you as the weeks go by. But as the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, life returned to normal for all of those around me and yet my world had been irreversibly changed.
My grief is ever changing with each passing year. The intial all-consuming grief eventually faded to a constant, burning pain in my heart. There are days when it hurts a little less, and days when it hurts with every fibre of my being. There are times when we think of you with smiles on our faces, and others when I wonder if the tears will ever stop.
And grief is such a lonely emotion. It’s entirely personal, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, no two mourners feeling the exact same emotions. I know many friends who have suffered a loss, who live each day mourning the loss of their mum, their dad, a partner or friend. And yet stillbirth is such an inexplicable type of loss, it is the loss of a future just as many losses are, but it is also the loss of a past that we never had the chance to share with you.
Other than the nine months that we shared, as you kicked and squirmed inside of me, I have no other memories of you aside the day that you were born. I have no tales to tell of moments that we spent together outside of those hospital walls, no funny anecdotes to relay of fun times that we have shared. I have no photographs of you laughing, smiling, growing older through the years, just a few grainy images that very few want to see.
I have just that one day. Those same twenty four hours that I have clung on to for these last nine years, desperately trying to remember every precious second that we shared.
That is all I have of you.
We have your box, a bittersweet memory of your entire life packed up into just one cardboard box. Some days I find myself looking through it, reading the hundreds of sympathy cards which we received, sobbing as I re-live those raw, early days. I hold your blanket to my face and desperately hope to breathe in your scent, to try to remember the smell of your hair, something tangible that I can hold on to. I look at the clothes that you never got to wear, the toys that you never got to hold, the baby book with its empty pages and I feel cheated. I still feel that life is so terribly unfair.
Because in place of those memories I simply have questions. Every single day I ask myself, what would you have been like?
Would that gorgeous black hair of yours have turned blonde like your siblings? Would your eyes have been brown like mine and Lews, or blue like your Dads? Would you have grown long and lean or another miniature sumo-baby like your big brother had been?
And as you grew older, what kind of character would you have been? Would you be sporty like Lewis? Dramatic like Eva? Mischievous like Megan? Chilled out like Harry? Or something else entirely?
And perhaps my biggest heartache is wondering, what would your relationship have been like with Lewis? Your big brother, who expectantly awaited your arrival and feels your loss every single day. He talks about you often, asks me to tell him about the day that you were born, what you were like, remind him of how life would have been had you lived. He tells me about all of the things that you would do, FIFA tournaments, bike rides, camping in the garden, kicking the football about on the front. I see the way that he looks at the girls and the bond that they share and its there in his eyes, in the look on his face….
I wish that Joseph was here.
And I wonder whether you know how loved and missed you have been all of these years? Whether you understand that although we have had to move on and add to our family, there shall forever be a Joseph shaped hole in our lives.
And so today we shall celebrate your ninth birthday, sadly not with presents and a party nor a birthday cake and candles. But we shall visit you as we always do, bring you flowers, tie a balloon to your headstone and wish you a happy birthday up there in the stars. And we shall cry, of course we will, but we shall smile and remember that saying hello to you was not the worst day of our lives.
Saying goodbye to you was.
Happy 9th Birthday Joseph Allan, love and miss you all of the stars in the sky. xxx