From the moment that Joseph came into our lives, almost twelve years ago now, I made him a promise. In the silence of the funeral home, as I kissed him goodbye for the very last time and held him close to my chest, I told him that I would never forget, that I would carry him with me for always, and that I would share our story in every way I can. And believe me when I tell you, I have tried so hard to do just that.
I won’t lie to you, whilst as a family we have carried his memory forward, and whilst my heart still beats to the sound of his name, it is still incredibly difficult to share our story. There are days when I falter to say his name, when it sticks to the lump in my throat, tears stinging at my eyes, the realisation that no matter how many years pass, this will never gets easier.
There are moments when I sit down to write, when I have every thought perfectly formed in my head, and I just can’t find the words to put down on paper how much it hurts that I can’t say them to him in person.
There are times when I want to shout from the rooftops that there are five, not four, beautiful children who make me so proud in so many different ways, and yet for the benefit of others I break my own heart and stay silent.
Last week I was incredibly honoured to be asked to travel down to London to film for a Channel 5 show focusing on stillbirth. And yet, as touched as I was to be invited, to say I was terrified would be an understatement.
Being on camera does not come naturally to me at all. I am incredibly self critical, overwhelmingly self conscious, and although I may appear eloquent in my words, when it comes to voicing those thoughts out loud, I really struggle. I’ll be honest, in the days leading up to the event I thought of a thousand reasons not to attend, and just one reason to go.
Because that little boy, who at almost twelve years old would not be so little at all, is the one who pushes me to be braver, to be stronger, to know that with him in my heart there is nothing I can’t do or achieve. That little boy has made me a fighter, a warrior, someone who can survive the impossible, who is unrecognisable to those who know my inner battles, someone who strives to make changes in just the same way that he has.
It’s true what they say – the smallest footprints leave the largest imprints, and Joseph, my darling boy, has done exactly that. His story has helped others in so many ways and, although he never opened his eyes or took his first breath, the legacy he left behind is infinitively great.
So I went down to London, clutching his memory box close to my heart, filled with my precious memories and photos I wasn’t sure I could share, and every time that I faltered at the thought of all those cameras, all of that pressure, I saw his little face and knew that this was the very least he deserved.
And I did it. I shared my story. I opened up that memory box, I allowed them, and the public in, and through a jumble of ‘umms’ and ‘errs’, I said what I set out to say. And tomorrow I will return to London for the live show, where I will try to ignore the knot in my stomach, the intensity of the lights and the cameras and a setting I am so uncomfortable with, and I’ll do my boy proud.
I’m sure it will be emotional, and I’m sure there will be tears (be that of sadness, fear or utter relief when it’s over!), but those feelings, every ‘umm’ and ‘err’, every lump in the throat, every knot in my stomach, they are all part of our story – a wonderfully tragic, devastatingly joyous, indefinitely life changing story that deserves to be told.
I hope you will support, not just me but, the eight brave and wonderful ladies who share their stories beside me at 6.30pm, this Tuesday 1st May, on Channel 5 followed by live streaming on-line.
And for Joseph, wherever he may be, I am so incredibly proud of you.