In the depths of the darkest despair, when all truths fade away and that monitor is silent,
When all anger and pain rises, and the cruelty of life opens your eyes forever,
When words and feelings emerge that are so unlike you, so foreign
And come from a place of unimaginable sorrow,
The furthest thing on your mind is gratitude.
Three years on, the grief is still so devastating,
But there is also great thankfulness coming to light.
Thank you my darling Lissie, for choosing me to be your home, your mother, and your voice. The bond we have shared is ours alone; I can boast that no one ever did- and ever will- know you and feel you the way I did.
Thank you for haunting me, for making sure that I see you at every birthday party, every christmas, every blossom, every dragonfly. Your spiritual presence completes these moments, and these reminders give me hope of our family reunion someday.
Thank you for revealing both the brevity and the beauty of life, and making sensory experiences all the more vivid. Every breath, every colour, every bite, every poignant song, every fleeting moment of joy that made a smile break through feels deeper, sweeter and more profound because of you. These small cliched gains will never make up for our great loss- we would rather treasure all these things with you, but the need to live fully for your sake makes these small blessings all the more rich. And for that, I am thankful.
Thank you to my life partner, the one who gave her that precious nose and those curly black locks, the one who suffered with me and suffered for me instead of running for freedom.
Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and giving me safe space to fall apart too. We lost so much that day and every day since, and it is so painful but beautiful sharing in that experience with you.
Thank you for letting me see her one more time, even though we promised we wouldn’t, for that precious father-daughter dance you had to have, for protecting us and her memory in every aspect of our every day.
Thank you to the medical staff who treated me with kindness and compassion- to the social worker, the midwives, the doula, the surgeon, the psychologist;
Thank you for being the first and few who got to meet her, and have loved my daughter with the same ferocity as I have.
Thank you for your tender hearts and your gentle words, for going beyond the calling and showing grace to the ‘case’, the ‘patient’, for being love when we felt love had died.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you to the communities- the religious ones, the online ones, the complete strangers and the immediate family.
Thank you for being understanding of our loss-crazed behaviour and for faithfully loving us through each day,
for not criticizing or ‘fixing’ us because of the way we grieve or the duration of our grief,
for turning up at our doorstep oftentimes with no words, just tears and meals, flowers and gifts,
for saying her name and listening to our story and struggle.
If only you knew the great gift you give us when you say her name.
Thank you for sticking around, patiently waiting for something that resembles me to return. She may not come back fully, but she still loves you so dearly.
Thank you to employers for giving me the time, space and kindness I needed, and for allowing me to take things slowly.
Thank you to those who donated funds to charities and to help us cover the costs of a funeral we were not preparing to host for decades, and certainly not for our child- your generosity brings us to our knees.
Thank you to those parents who have had to say goodbye to their babies, and their dreams with them- I know you may not feel it, but you are pinnacles of strength, bravery and inspiration, even in the most bitter and angry moments, because you choose to live on and fight for your child’s memory and legacy… and I am in awe of you. Thank you for your friendship, for embracing me into this ‘club’ that no-one wants to be a part of and for choosing to share your story and your baby with us and the world.
I have spent countless nights weeping, apologising profusely to her:
“If only love could have saved you..”
But as the months and years of apologies pass,
I turn to thanks,
because instead, she has saved me.