August 25, 2016

I’ve always been a daydreamer.

I was the child staring out of the window instead of paying attention to the teacher. I grew into the young woman who stared out of the window instead of paying attention to the boss. Eyes always gazing beyond the horizon, to an imaginary place that seemed so much more interesting than the reality that I found myself surrounded by. School. Office.

When my daughters were in the neonatal intensive care unit, we walked through the same hospital foyer every day. There was one, incongruous decoration. A laminated character from the Mr. Men books dangled down from the ceiling from a string. I can only assume that he was left over from a celebration, a remnant overlooked by the clear up. He was Mr. Daydream.

I thought that this was a good omen. That my girls would live. That my daydream would not always be a dream. That I would carry my two little babies out past him, one day in the not too distant future. Foolish I know.

He wasn’t an omen, Mr. Daydream. She died. My first baby girl, who I wanted so much. My dreams couldn’t stop her death. My hopes couldn’t stop her death. Nothing could have stopped her death. Sadly.

I don’t believe in signs or omens any longer. But I’m still a dreamer.

I only really dream one dream these days. There is only one alternate life that tempts me. When I gaze out of the window. A habit that I’ve never managed to break. I no longer dream that I will suddenly stretch to super model proportions. I no longer dream that I will write something beautiful or sing amazing songs. I no longer dream of a beautiful home, decorated perfectly, and six adoring children.

I still dream. But just one dream. The dream that she does not die. That she is alive and here with me. That I hold her in my arms every day. That I stroke her hair. That she breathes. That her heart beats. I dream and I dream and I dream of it. The thump, the pump, of blood around her body. The rasp of air in her lungs. The fizz and spark of her brain. Her blue, blue eyes looking at me. Her fingers squeezing mine.

But it’s only a dream. A dream that makes me feel sad. I long to have her back so much. My heart aches with it, my bones ache with it, my head aches with imagining her into being. Everywhere I turn there is an empty space, that seems so huge and obvious to me that I am surprised when other people can’t see that there should have been another child. Three, where they see only two. A small shadow in our family, marking a place that yearns to be filled.

I’m still a dreamer. Sometimes that dream brings me comfort. I watch my living children, playing with their cousins. And, for a moment, there she is. As though she had never been ill, as though she had never died. A flicker. Like a candle flame. For a moment. The image that is in my heart is reflected out, into the world. The world that I wish she had lived in. The world that she never quite disappears from, not whilst I am in it. Dreaming of her.

Do you dream of them? Of your son? Of your daughter? Daydreams or the more conventional sort?

  • Catherine

    My name is Catherine and I am honoured to have been asked to contribute to this amazing project. In 2008, I was thrilled to find myself pregnant with twin girls, a wonderful surprise. Sadly, my daughters arrived extremely prematurely at 23 weeks gestation. Despite the heroic efforts of many medical professionals, my eldest twin, Georgina, did not survive her early birth and passed away in the arms of her parents at three days old. We miss her terribly. Her younger sister, Jessica, spent three months in intensive care and a further month in a special care nursery before coming home to us at last. I write about my experiences of neonatal loss, premature birth, the NICU and raising a surviving twin at my blog, Between The Snow and The Huge Roses. I am also a regular contributor to the online community Glow in the Woods. I am endlessly grateful for the support and comfort I have received from the online community and I hope that I can help other parents, walking along this difficult path.

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