Who knew that time could fly so fast? That time doesn’t stand still. That somehow time moves forward. Who knew that my world could be changed forever in the flick of an eye? It seems that every time September rounds the corner, a whole multitude of feelings come flooding back into this one big pile of meaningless which is called LIFE. I remember so many different things from September two years ago, when I was preparing for the birth of my child. I had so many wonderful memories. I was ready for what the world would throw at me. The biggest thing I was preparing for was motherhood.
I remember being scared that I would not be a good mum to Sebby somehow. That somewhere along the line that I would fail him, and that he too would hate me and see me as a disappointment, a disaster, an inadequate person that isn’t capable of looking after his needs. As his due date approached rapidly and we were preparing all the little details before his birth, I was going through a haze of endless options in my head. Would my son be better off if I give him up for adoption so that he would have had a mummy and a daddy? Would he have been better off with just me, his grandparents, uncles and aunts in the world? What was best for my little boy?
I remember seeking God’s will. Praying endlessly for what was right for my little boy. In the end I decided I was not going to adopt him because it would cause too much heartache for me, and that I would end up feeling guilty for the rest of my life. In the end I decided to keep him and see where the path I choose to take would lead me to. I remember praying to God ‘please give my son the perfect father’, and every evening before bed I would pray that prayer. As I write this I get goosebumps. Wondering. Confused. If I hadn’t prayed that prayer two years ago would my son have lived? Would he still be here today? It’s the guilt that eats me alive as I replay the scene over and over in my head. Rewinding it. Remembering it. Fast-forwarding it to the bits that I enjoyed and remembered fondly.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I struggled to find a comfortable position in bed. I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep in. My legs were restless. My heart was excited for what was to come. I remember wanting to paint my toe-nails. But because I was like a beached whale I could barely reach the tips of my toes, so painting my toe nails was a difficult feat, but somehow I managed to do it. Then I wanted to cut my hair into a neat little bob, so that when my little boy would be born would not have a fright at how his mum looked like (wink). Yes, those were the lazy days, in my head I thought nothing bad can happen anymore. I have long past the stage after my middle child died by about 16 weeks.
I remember spending diligently every day working on my son’s baby bed. Sanding it, whilst sitting outside in the sun, enjoying the last bit of summer’s breeze. Enjoying moments of quiet when my sister was in school, enjoying quiet mornings with my mum before our worlds would change with a baby. Then one day all of that changed. All of it changed. And here I am nearly two years further with empty arms, and nothing but memories to cling on to of what could have been.
I went out one night for dinner with some friends, and we stood by the big blue Danube. Really it’s not that blue. It is more like a murky muddy colour, but in the twilight it was hardly noticed. I was leaning against the railing, my hair being caressed gently by the wind as it splayed into a neat mess. It was a nice cool evening. An evening of eager anticipation. An evening of looking forward to the future, with hopes and dreams. It was an evening where I truly relaxed myself amongst friends, and just enjoyed being single. Just enjoyed not being judged for being a single mum (or nearly being a single mum). Unbeknown to me this would be the last time I enjoyed an evening meal with friends for a long time, because soon after that my world would collapse into an endless vacuum of grief, human anguish, and the cries of a broken mother that no-one should ever have to hear.
Hope left via back door. Hopes and dreams that I so carefully mapped out for my son and me. One day it just all ended. I had to figure out what the meaning of all of this was. It makes you realize how fragile life is. How life can just change in the blink of an eye. How death can strike at any moment. Death knocking on your door and entering uninvited into your presence. I remember just lying there in my hospital bed, unable to move, just staring into the distant void of complete nihility. I wanted to die when they told my son had died. I was consumed with a terrible guilt for praying that prayer ‘Lord please provide my son with the perfect father’. Months after I was told this was a good prayer. It showed that I was allowing for God to do His will whatever that may be.
After his death, it was a long haul back to life. Learning how to take small baby steps back into the open. Learning how to cope with life. Not able to cope with large social gatherings, which is still a struggle for me today. Learning to deal with panic attack after panic attack, and anxiety attacks. Learning how to deal with waking up every morning to not knowing what your purpose in life is. Learning how to breathe again, and learning to interact again in a social setting without breaking down in front of people or mentioning your still-born son. Let’s face it. A lot of people don’t want to hear about the death of your son. A lot of people would much rather you bury it underneath the carpet so that it can be forgotten as quickly as it happened as if a loud bang entered our lives. I had to learn to cling onto the cross, onto God when I was at my weakest. Though people kept telling me you are stronger than you think Hannah. Well I may be strong, but really – did I want to hear it at that moment? What is wrong with being weak?
Remembering what it was like having to plan a funeral for my kid. Why should any parent have to go through the process of planning a funeral for their child, when their child had their whole lives to look forward to? So much changed for me in such a short space of time. I found it difficult to interact with people, and I found it increasingly difficult to fit into any social class. I simply didn’t have the energy to be social. I had no energy left inside of me. I shut myself off from the world for a long time. I still do sometimes, when the feelings of missing my little boy overwhelms me.
September a month of eager anticipation turned into a month of deep grief and anguish all in a short space of time. I remember lying there in my bed a few weeks after Sebby died, and having terrible night –sweats and nightmares. Guilt rocking my world. Funeral planning. Anger at the fact that my son’s name couldn’t go on the birth certificate. But most of all – the one thing I still struggle with 23 months further is that I wasn’t able to hold my son. I wasn’t able to cradle him in my arms and tell him how much I loved him, tell him how much he meant to me. Tell him how excited I was for him to come to this world, excited to share him all the knowledge I had. I guess he was too wise for this world. Who knows?
And now, 23 months further, I am sitting in the same job I got 5 weeks after his death. And sadly I don’t enjoy my job. I am planning to promote my book in 6.5 months’ time. Lord willing my book will be published by then. I am still writing after his death. After Sebastian died the well of words within me never runs dry it seems. God’s will be done. Whether I like it or not – I know that if I didn’t have God in my life, and my faith I would not be here right now. I would probably be resting in a ditch somewhere. Sometimes I lose my rationality and I want to leave this life of pain, and go somewhere where no one knows me, and my pain, my story, then I don’t have to see their sympathetic looks. Sometimes I just want to start over. But this is my story. God gave me a story though it is full of heartbreak and pain, God will use it to bring other people to himself, and if you ask me if I am ready to help others? I would say I am more ready to help others than I have been in a long time. I think I am reaching a stage in this healing where I am ready to share my story, and ready to reach out to people. To let them know that it is OK to grief for their child. That it is OK to be sad. The thing I learnt is – there are constructive ways to grieving. If you don’t do it constructively you may well be stuck in a grieving process for the rest of your life. The key is to let it all out, to go with the flow and see where it leads you. In the end things will get better, and light will slowly enter back into your world of heartache, but you will never forget your child.
Rest well Sebby.