It’s been a while – and you are still here.

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I haven’t written in this space for a very long time. But last night a poem came and I started thinking of you in ways I hadn’t before.

In the first depths of grief I felt charged with keeping your memory. That only I could keep you safe. That my role as your mother was to wrap the precious memories you left in tenderness and share them oh so very carefully. That my tears were proof of your life and what would be left if I stopped crying?

Now, I’m not sure that you are quite as fragile as I first thought. I talk to you and you are always there. I feel you, even when days have passed without turning my thoughts to you. Your presence hasn’t faded. It’s grown more constant.  Not so steeped in sadness.

Perhaps we both grew stronger.

The 3am poem……

It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since we talked.
A while since you prayed.
Been a while between fervent wishes,
That I could have stayed.

I know that you’ve been busy.
Life has carried you along.
And you only really cry now,
When the radio plays our song.

Sometimes you stop, you pause,
And then you look for me.
And oh the guilt you feel,
That life feels as it should be.

You thought you’d never get there,
You thought there’d always be an ache.
Because in the absence of hard grief
What shape do I take?

I am not made of your tears.
I am no distant memory.
I am real and I am solid.
There is a separate me.

Your sadness isn’t all of me.
Your grief is not my whole.
We have a deep connection.
But I’m an independent soul.

 

 

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Poetry in Grief Thursday – The Broken People

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Every Thursday I am sharing a poem I have written for Xavier.

Today I wanted to share a poem that was published in the beautiful book Three Minus One.

I was thrilled and humbled to be a part of this collection of stories, essays and poems about the loss of a child.  You can buy the book here.

This poem is about the change that occurs when you lose a child.  The person you become. The fragility and the strength that co-exist.


The Broken People

I am one of the broken people

The people who are hollow

The people made of glass

The people made of sorrow

 

You might not know it

Think me the same as you

But look a little closer

You’ll see straight through

 

I am weightless, groundless

I am battered, I am broken

I am bruised, I am tired

I am words left unspoken

 

 I am acting when I’m smiling

I am pretending even now

Appearing to be living

When I have forgotten how

 

I go through the motions

I wake up every day

Do the things that need doing

Say what I am supposed to say

 

But this vessel is broken, empty

It is cracked beyond repair

And sometimes when you see me

I have vanished into air

 

I am living on the outer

Each breath hangs by a thread

I am half way between the living

I am half way to the dead

 

One day I’ll find my feet

Feel the earth and remain

But even when I make it there

I’ll never be the same

 

Because now I am so fragile

Heart shattered on the floor

And ‘though I am made of glass now

I am somehow stronger than before

Poetry in Grief – his Grave

Photo Credit Robyna MayI used to visit Xavier’s grave weekly.  I don’t go so often anymore, but it’s still a part of my life.  It always seems so strange to stand there, knowing that a part of my son resides in this saddest of gardens.  I wrote this a week or so after Xavier had been buried.

Your Grave

There is a place I go to,
Even though it makes me cry.
There is a place I go to,
Though it makes me wonder why.

Why so many little lives,
Were tragically cut short.
There is a little garden,
Which holds more children than it ought.

My little son is amongst them,
Amongst the graves and flowers,
Amongst butterflies and windmills,
Amongst sad and silent hours.

He has a little grave,
Where the mound is still high.
He’s next to another boy,
Who shouldn’t have had to die.

I wonder if he watches  me,
Crying over his tiny grave.
I wonder if he whispers,
“oh mummy, please be brave”

I wonder if he plays with,
The other children who are here.
Is he now best friends,
With the baby who is near?

I will never meet his little mates,
Never know who’s his favourite one.
But I like to think of them,
together, playing in the sun.

I hope that he is happy,
That he’s surround by love and light.
I hope he know his mummy,
Keeps his memory bright.

So I’ll keep on coming,
And every time I’ll shed a tear.
You are so very far away,
But it’s the place you feel most near.

Poetry in Grief – How to be a Mother?

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After losing Xavier, I knew that I would need to figure out how to mother him still.   But it seemed an impossible task.   I had lost confidence in myself as a mother and the things I prided myself on.  I wrote this poem, trying to articulate and search for my new kind of motherhood.

 Mummy

I know how to be a mother
to a child of flesh and bone.
But how to be a mother
when his world is not my own?

I know how to change a nappy,
I know how to give a feed,
but how can I be your mother
when I don’t know your every need?

I know how to give comfort,
I know how to dry tears,
but how can I make it better
when I never learned your fears?

I know how to play peek-a-boo
and I can do it for quite a while.
But how can I make you laugh
when I never saw your smile?

I know how to plan a birthday
what presents please a son
But how can I give you a party
When your birth day was your only one?

How can I be your mummy?
What’s the best thing I can do?
For I am still your mummy
And I love and cherish you

I will light a candle to remember
I will leave butterflies at your grave
I will talk about you often
Honour you and be brave

One day we might meet again,
I’d tickle your little tummy,
you’d laugh and squeal with delight
and I’d hear you call me “Mummy.”

Poetry in Grief – the First Poem

photo (20)This is the first poem I wrote  after Xavier died.  I was trying to make sense of the senseless and completely convinced that I was being punished.

Where are you?

I used to hear stories of heart break,
And wonder how they felt,
And then I’d feel so grateful for the hand that I’d been dealt.

But then someone changed the rules,
Someone changed the game,
And now our perfect life will never be the same.

I don’t pretend to know the mysteries of this earth,
But I knew how precious life is, I knew a baby’s worth.

I never was complacent – I was well aware,
Of the blessings and the privileges of children in our care.

I thought tragedy was for others, I thought we were immune,
Maybe that’s why he was taken all too soon.

I didn’t have to lose to recognise we were blessed,
We gave him all our love, we did our very best.

He was loved, he was precious, he made us a family,
I don’t understand why he was taken away from me.

Was it the hand of god? Or the finger of fate?
Or was it just all random – just a horrible mistake?

Or was it darker forces? The wages for some sin?
Or at the game of life you can’t always win?

Is there any order? Is there any sense?
Or just a lot of platitudes people like to dispense?

Things are said when you are grieving to make you feel ok,
But is any of it true or just words people say?

At the funeral I was strong, said words that then seemed true,
But now all I have is time and a future without you.

I know I’ll search for answers that I will never find,
And I know guilt will forever haunt the corners of my mind.

Even if they could tell me exactly what went wrong,
Would it make any difference – bring you back where you belong?

Where are you now my precious little boy?
Are you filled with light and with love and with joy?

Are you looking down on me and looking after us?
Or have you just returned to the dust?

Heaven, hell, dirt – in the end I just don’t care,
All I know is my arms are empty and my baby should be there.

Poetry in Grief – New Reality

 

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I wrote this poem when feeling very lost about a reality that did not feel real.   When I felt like I had fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole and every single thing was up-side down.

New Reality

I should have a messy house,
My time consumed in his care.
I have a messy house,
Little things too hard to bear.

I should have sleepless nights,
Tending to his every whim.
I have sleepless nights,
My thoughts are all of him.

I should be meeting new mums,
Cooing over their new kids.
I have met new mums,
Who have also lost to SIDS.

I should be on a break from work,
Spending time with my newborn.
I am on a break from work,
Can’t go back whilst still so torn.

I should be juggling two boys,
Wishing I had more hands.
I am juggling two boys,
I’m not sure my eldest understands.

I should be talking about him,
About how he fed and slept.
I am talking about him,
So that his memory is kept.

I should be crying over photos,
Sighing he grows too fast.
I am crying over photos,
The only memories to last.

I should have a living baby,
I should be happy and fulfilled.
I don’t have a living baby,
Just a life left to rebuild.

Poetry in Grief – Dichotomy

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Every Thursday, I am sharing a poem I wrote in the first year of my grief.  This poem is about the tension I felt (and still do feel to some extent) between feeling better, and feeling further away.

Dichotomy

I want the time to pass quickly
– The hurt to lessen every day
I want the time to pass slowly
– It carries me further away

Away from my precious boy
Away from when I was whole
Away from when I was unaware of pain
Away from my complete soul

And where I am going on this journey?
This long, circuitous road
Where the burden is so heavy
And no one else to take the load

Sometimes I feel okay
And the load a little lighter
Perhaps that is his gift
When the sun shines a little brighter

Sometimes the load is heavy
And I feel so bereft
And I don’t feel him close to me
Just the absence he has left

Some days are filled with sunshine
And in the  warmth I feel him near
Some days are filled with storm clouds
And I can’t escape the fear

One day there will be peace
I will remember without pain
They will be together in my heart
Both the sunshine and the rain