Courage means the ability to do something that frightens one. It also means strength in the face of pain or grief. Every one of us moms and dads have courage. Far more courage than we would like to think. Grief’s journey in itself is taking a step of courage so that we can move forward past our pain, whilst still carrying our children in our hearts. They will never be forgotten though they were born silently into this world, with no joy surrounding the normalcy of birth.
Almost two years ago, I took a step of courage when I left my husband so that I could protect my unborn child. This courage has helped me come far in life thanks to the gift that my children have given me even though they do not live here on earth with me. Two years ago I walked out in the cold February night air as it was raining hard against the ground surface, I looked back at what was once my home, and walked away silently. No tears were shed, no claps of acclamation were heard, just a tight nod towards the direction of the building where so much heartache occurred, and there I was heading for a divorce, single once more, reflecting on how I could have messed up so badly at keeping my husband happy.
The events prior to my decision happened in a space of 3 short days, the abuse that was inflicted on me for years, the loneliness, the depression that was settling in almost welcomingly, until I heard this tiny whisper of hope ‘Come unto me, all who ye who are weary’ and so I took that step of faith into the unknown – not knowing what the future would hold for me and where it would lead me to. Nor did I know how I would support myself financially and keep body and soul together, nor did I know for certain that I was pregnant. Just call it a mother’s instinct – that there was a tiny being growing within that needed all the protection from the big bad world. And so in the rain that was pitter pattering quietly along as if seemingly knowing the turmoil inside me I walked away on that dark gray gloomy day and never turned back to the place of unrest and just kept on moving forward, wanting the best for my child.
I walked away and into the shelter I arrived with nothing but the clothes on my back and a few small personal belongings. This is where I would stay for the majority of my pregnancy and I met all sorts of people from different wakes of life and the things you heard that they had to endure took a lot of courage as well. I suppose courage comes in all different sizes, forms and shapes. We learn to walk in the shoes that were handed to us. Some experience more heart ache then others. Others experience less. There are so many ways of facing courage. Mine was leaving my violent husband and walking into a shelter into a town I have never been to before, and building up friend network from scratch. I knew no-one. I was there on my own, just me and my baby Sebastian. So, I slowly build up strength till I had the energy to move have way across Europe, until my divorce was completely finalized. I had so much hope, so much joy inside of me. For a long time this joy was stifled, this feeling of freeness was gone, I was a prisoner in my own home and when I walked out my world changed. I felt exhilarated. I remember how at one point when I started to feel comfortable in my own skin again, I started to skip down the road, a lightness in my step, a smile on face, laughter in my eyes as I blossomed from a tiny frightened woman to a woman who had more self-confidence and was no longer afraid of unknown situations.
I guess leaving my ex-husband taught me all about resilience and to face the fear with a brave face. What I did not know or expect was what was to come. I was looking forward to becoming my son’s mom, and he knows how much I loved him, how I used to pray for him daily, and talk to him and whisper him sweet lullabies. Sebastian was my hope. Sebastian was my torch to safety. Sebastian showed me what love was. Sebastian gave his mommy much happiness.
I remember when I had to go back to the city that I fled to go to the hospital and discuss an operation on my ankle – the ankle that my ex-husband damaged, only to be told no operation could be done because I was pregnant with a little life inside of me. I was frightened. I looked all around me, making sure I was not being followed and tentatively went into the city covering my face so that I would be disguised. So that I would not be easily spotted.
The long months of having to face motherhood on my own, not knowing how I would provide for my son or myself when the time came to look after him. I did not know, I did not have the answers but in my heart somehow I knew that it would work. That I would be able to succeed. That I would be his mommy, and that I would be a good mommy, only thing is I failed at keeping him safe, the one place in the world where he was safe – he died.
My son died, he never got to come into this world and witness the light. He was born in complete silence, and so the courage and resilience that I learnt over the months that I was in hospital gave me the strength to push through the labour, gave me strength to keep fighting – secretly hoping that somehow my son would come out and he would cry, and that I would wake up from this heart wrenching nightmare, only it wasn’t the case. I was awake. Alarmed. Frightened. Not sure how to move forward, or past this overwhelming presence of grief.
It was courage that taught me to face my fears and it was courage that taught me to move forward into the unknown, but when courage hits and your son is dead – how do you keep on going when the one thing that gave you the strength to go on was no more. Was dead? How do you move past that big fat lump at the back of your throat? Did I deserve to lose my son? Did I deserve this lot in life? Did I do anything wrong to make him die? Was it my fault? Those were the thoughts that rang in my ears for many months to come and they still ring in my ears.
My future is uncertain, my grief journey is a sure thing. It goes hand in hand with the shoes that I was handed at birth, yet I did not think that I would be a mom of a still born baby boy. This never crossed my mind when I left my husband. I wonder should I have left the UK, or should I have stayed?
I wonder a lot of things, I wonder what it would have been like to hold Sebastian’s tiny hands as we walked the dogs in the snow, and see his nose bright red from the cold. I wonder what it would be like to kiss him goodnight, and rub our noses together and say I love you forever and ever. I wonder what it would have been like to be a mom to a handsome little boy, a gift that was given to me so freely. I wonder – if I will ever be able to experience that joy again and be able to experience the joy of holding my own child in my arms. I wonder if it will ever happen. I wonder if God hears my prayers and I wonder if God will give me another child, not a replacement but someone that I can cherish as much as Sebastian and the girls.
As I look back to the last two years – it has been a heck of a roller coaster ride. From leaving my husband, to moving to a shelter, to becoming divorced, to moving halfway across Europe to keep my child safe, only to lose my son right at the end of the pregnancy and feeling the courage draining from my body as I had to face the unknown future. I look back and see how far I have come. I am stronger in spirit, I am more sensitive. I am sad. I can be happy sometimes. But my life did not turn out how I planned. It has changed me, I am a changed woman. I am not sure if it is for the best, but my wish is that no-one else in the world has to walk the path that I did – the path to come to safety and believing that one day I will get to hold my child in my arms. I dearly hope that I will be given a 4th chance at becoming a mother. Will I get to hold a living child? Or will I die lonely, an old spinster, only with bitterness in my heart?
My biggest desire was to help others, but I have lost the strength and energy to do that. Yes, I took the courage to leave behind where a future would have been marked with violence, to a future to keep my child safe, to endure the loss of my son. I have courage. And so I have decided that in some small way I have learnt to be brave and face the unknown that lays far beyond the sky line. If I can face all the other stuff, I can face the uncertainty and I may only hope that one day God will answer my prayer and see my heart and hear my longing for another child that I can love. In the same way that I loved Micheline, Elouise and Sebastian-David. So my hope is that I will be given a 4th chance one day, hopefully. This is the courage and hope that keeps me going, that keeps me from falling down into the pits of despair. Knowing that maybe one day I will be blessed again with the miracle of life within me. If not, then I accept that this is not what was intended for me in this life. But I have to be brave and willing to face my future.