Forgive Me…

Sunflower-01Today is the hardest day of my year. The anniversary of my Xavier’s death. I have not done anything in particular to mark the occasion. But I feel sluggish and everything is weighted with difficulty. I sat in the sun with a dear friend. She was foggy with a bad cold, and I was foggy with grief. Just sitting was nice. Soaking up the sunshine that makes me think of my son.

I feel badly that I haven’t staged any grand gestures in his name. That there is only this heavy feeling. And so I wrote this poem. About how I feel on his anniversary. My every day is distanced from grief now. Most days would not guess me to be a parent of a child who died. But if you met me on the street today, you might guess something was wrong. I am not myself today. But, in other ways, I am my true self today.

Forgive Me

Forgive me if I’m not myself today,
I don’t mean to be unpleasant,
Forgive me if I seem far away,
I’m not all together present.

Forgive me if I’m not myself today,
If my smile and eyes seemed pained,
If I don’t know what to say,
and our conversation’s strained.

Forgive me if I’m not myself today,
if I’m hesitant to smile,
It means a great deal that you stay,
And just sit with me for a while.

Forgive me if I’m not myself today,
if I seem a little slow or dim,
most times I keep the grief at bay,
but today belongs to him.

Forgive me if I’m not myself today,
You know it’s not an easy one,
Three years ago, to the day,
is when last I held my son.

****

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The days belonging to him

Late June in Brisbane and the days are brilliant. Chilly mornings giving way to bright sunshine skies. The air and the wind and the way the grass smells unlocking memories of him. These days when he shared the earth.

Come the 6th July the other memories will come. Unwelcome and unbidden. The moments that stole him away replayed in my mind. But for now, I am not thinking on that. I am remembering those two weeks he was here.

Recalling the smell of him and the soft peach fuzz of his hair. Memories I thought I had lost but that are carried in the air late June. I remember the cosy fog of the first few days. Sleep deprived and elated. That excited, bewildered, other-worldly place that belongs only to parents of the very newly born.

I remember proudly showing him off, so new and tiny. I remember friends holding him and drinking in his freshly bloomed loveliness. I remember fighting through a fog of sleepiness and taking him to meet his cousins one evening despite a day full of activity. Oh, I am so glad I did.

I remember feeling content and whole.

I remember gazing at him in adoration and asking my husband the most rhetorical of parental questions – isn’t he beautiful?

I remember the way he breathed a little too heavily and the midwife who worried and the doctor who did not.

I remember nursing him and thinking I’d give him the world. I remember calling him “my little love, my turtle dove”. I remember him curled up, cuddled into Ns chest, oblivious to the world as he slept. I remember singing him silly little songs and tracing his features as he slept.

Not so long ago, I was unable to recall these simple things. They would have been a dagger in my broken heart. But today, as the sun reached out and touched the grass, offering respite from the wind’s chill, the memories came flooding back. And I could accept them with open arms and be thankful for the 14 days he graced the earth.

The Weight of June

My heart knows the dates are coming.  Before I turn my mind to them, my heart is already aching.   The unbearable weight of June.  Suddenly, I am carrying a heaviness I thought I had banished.   In the very thick of grief, I felt like I was surrounded by a viscose tide.  Everything was an effort.   Every little thing met with resistance.  I pushed through it, hoping that the other side would be easier.  I pushed against the heaviness that weighed against my heart.  And I remember being so very tired from the effort of it all.  

It eventually lifted – that thick fog of grief.  But I can feel it, insidiously and un-beckoned, sliding itself back into my life.   The 24th June will mark two years since Xavier came into this world.  The 7th July, two years since he left it.  

My life is in a happy place right now.  I am blessed and continue to be blessed, but it is not enough to guard against the dates.  The violent grief comes unbidden.   That is the thing about grief – it is not a choice.   You can choose, to a degree, how you deal with it.  But the grief itself – that has a life of its own.   I have come to know it now – I can recognise it and I can feel the pull.  Yet, being forewarned is not enough to banish it.   It is at this juncture that I am faced with a choice – do I try desperately to turn the grief away, to turn my back on the tide, or do I accept it – let it wash over me and hope there is catharsis in doing so?  To be honest, I am fearful of either option.   I am not sure I want to sit with my grief – in all honesty, I want to be done with grief.  But, it seems, grief is not done with me.  

There is confusion and fear in the thick of grief.  I have sought solace and peace in a whirlwind life and when I finally eek out that time, I feel lost and alone without my boys nearby.  I want to push out at those who love me most, and I want to embrace them and never let them go.  I want to un-know what I have learned and I want to make the most of lessons hard-earned.   I want to go back to the innocent girl I was, I want to embrace the better woman I have become.  I want Xavier back in my arms, but not at the expense of his youngest brother.   I want to feel Xavier near and real, but I do not want the hurt that inevitably brings.  I want two years to mean that I can experience his birthday without pain.  I want to still feel close to him, even though it has been two years.

Xavier’s first birthday was peaceful – I was so very sad, but the tension was less.  I was filled with the hope pregnancy brings and I had the time, inclination and inspiration to do beautiful things for him.   This year, it feels like the tide of my life washes me further away from Xavier.  Which wave do I ride?  The grief, dark and insistent, lapping at my feet but with the promise of bringing Xavier nearer?  Or the current of a life that continues to take me further away from a much loved little boy?