Dear Keyboard Warrior,
When you messaged me this week, in response to a post which took a great deal of guts to share, I’ll be honest, I felt sick to my stomach. When you told me that I sounded ungrateful, that I appeared dissatisfied with the four healthy children I have, I won’t lie to you, it hurt. But when you asked me “Why are you harping on about your son when he has been dead for twelve years”, you simply made me angry.
And whilst I wasn’t going to retaliate, and whilst I didn’t want you to know how much your words had hurt me, I’ve been brewing it over for four long days and I can’t keep it in any longer. Because actually, your comment was so completely vile that I had no choice but to respond to you, to have you read this and perhaps feel ashamed of your actions, to maybe think twice before targeting other bereaved parents with such utterly abhorrent comments in the future.
You see I wasn’t aware that there was a cut off point when you must stop talking about your children. I didn’t realise there was a limited amount of time before you must cease to mention them, regardless of whether they are here in our arms, or not.
I wasn’t aware that speaking about your child with love and affection, or even with remorse and regret, was deemed to be “harping on”, or that sharing my story and raising awareness was anything other than a positive and supportive thing to do.
I assume from your message that you have never lost a child, pardon me if I’m wrong. Because, any parent who has lost a child in this way will agree that speaking about them and sharing our story is pretty much all we have. We don’t have a lifetime of memories or anecdotes to relay, we don’t have countless albums bursting with photos or hours of video footage to share, we don’t have holiday snaps and Christmas mornings, special milestones and birthday parties, we don’t have anything more than our pregnancy and birth. And I appreciate that perhaps those stories can become a little repetitive, I wish I had more to share with you so as not to offend you with twelve years of harping on; I would give just about anything to have more than those twenty four hours and a lifetime of regrets. But I don’t, and that’s pretty tragic wouldn’t you agree?
And whilst you may find my posts irritating, or offensive, many find them inspiring and comforting. Just this week my in-box has been flooded with messages from those who have lost a child who tell me, thank you, that they feel completely the same way. Just this week I have spoken with others who are supporting a friend, or a family member, going through the same terrible ordeal, who tell me that my post really made a difference during the worst time of their loved ones life. Just this week I have been overwhelmed by love and support from the many wonderful people who have taken my little doves to heart, who hold my son in their thoughts each day, who feel nothing but sadness that Joseph isn’t here to share in our lives, and in our joy, with our four little miracles.
Because although you told me that I appear ungrateful, and even questioned whether I like my children at all, let me tell you, I love each of then an infinite amount. There isn’t a single moment of every day when I don’t pinch myself that they are really mine to keep, when I don’t thank God that we were blessed with four of the most amazing, fascinating and incredibly beautiful children you could ever meet. And whilst I don’t have to justify myself to you, “Kel”, I want you to know that telling any Mother she appears ungrateful, is incredibly hurtful.
I don’t know if you have children or not, I like to think you don’t given how oblivious you seem to the hardships that us parents go through on a daily basis. But I imagine if you did, that should I take away one of those children, you’d feel pretty devastated too. You’d feel all kinds of pain and anger, a whole range of jealousy and desperation, your entire world turned upside down, your heart completely broken. And you too would know that regardless of how many children you have left in your arms, that will never be enough.
And, just so you know, whether a month has gone by, or twenty long years have passed, I will continue to not only think about my son, but to speak about him too. On every birthday, every Christmas, every Monday or Friday, every moment of every day, I will think about him.
On his seventeenth birthday I will imagine him trawling the Autotrader looking for his first car, on his eighteenth birthday I will cringe at the state he may have been in, crawling in drunk after his first legal night out with the boys. Every birthday, every year, I will imagine how he would have transformed into the most handsome young man, imagining the career path he would have taken, the hearts he would have broken, the life he would have built.
On Lewis’s wedding day, as we sit at the front of the aisle, the proudest parents in all the world, I will look up at my son and imagine the best man that would have stood beside him, the private jokes they would have shared, the brotherly banter, an affectionate pat on the back and a wink back at his old mum. When I become a Grandparent for the very first time, when I am surrounded by little ones at my feet and noisy chatter in my ears, I will imagine the grandchildren who would have been, the Father he would have been.
And whilst I am sure I will have a wonderful life, filled with love and laughter in a world that is ever changing, one thing will always remain the same. I will “harp on about my son” until the day I die. Because like it or not, I will continue to share our story in the hope that in twelve years time, fewer women are sitting where I am now missing a son who would undoubtedly have been just as wonderful as his brothers and sisters.
Just one word of advice to you – the hardest thing a Mother can ever go through in life is to live each day without her child. Please don’t make mine or anyone else’s journey any harder than it needs to be.