Still Standing

Moving On

I am surrounded by towers of boxes, sequestered inside a fort of childhood fantasies. A life encased in cardboard, all that we own packed away, ready to move to a new home. I have spent weeks filling these boxes, carefully enclosing our history in bubble wrap and packing tape. Much has been thrown away too, a cathartic release of things we no longer need. Though it was a struggle, to let go, for so much of what this house holds is connected to Maeve, to the baby I never got to bring home.

She led us here, my growing bump inspiring a journey to the countryside, the promise of a new life for us all. And so this little cottage will always be hers. Visions of that happy, hopeful family dance in my mind, as if projected onto the walls, laughter echoing in this silent space. She was here, safe inside of me. The memories of those precious few weeks play like a movie in my mind. A smiling couple crossing the threshold into their future, belly swollen, joy and excitement palpable as nursery walls were painted a dusky pink, a crib built, the perfect space for our baby girl to come home to.

Only she never did. These rooms were never filled with her cries, with the sweet chaos that accompanies a newborn. But they still belong to Maeve. Her name, her image, her legacy resides in every corner. Questions haunt me: Will she be as ever-present in our new home? What if leaving her final physical space causes those irreplaceable memories to fade? What if I start to lose her, all over again? I am paralysed by fear at the thought, rooted inside this fort of boxes that I may never be able to leave. They contain tokens of her life, things that would have been irrelevant, tossed away easily, had she survived. There is a receipt for a brand new moses basket. There are my maternity notes and appointment letters, clothes that I wore then and can’t wear again, but also cannot let go.

I wonder if it’s unhealthy, to be so incapable of moving on. Or is it natural to hold tight to things that connect me to Maeve, especially as so much is about to change? I know she will be with me, wherever I go, wherever I live. I know she will be in my heart in a new home, just as she is in this one. And yet the thought of leaving makes me tremble with fear. I hug my knees tightly, my cheeks tear-stained as I hide inside my fort of stolen dreams. I am torn between hope and sorrow, that perpetual struggle to lift my heavy heart to the future against the pull of the past.

I will find a way to gently step forward into this next chapter. It’s what we do, us warrior mamas, we fight quietly against the chains of grief, chins lifted, arms linked together, forging forwards with the weight of loss heavy on our shoulders. So many of you have shown me how, inspiring me with your strength, your courage. I know that to embrace change does not mean forgetting the past, but instead carrying it with me. And so I will carry Maeve proudly into our new home and there I will find space for her. For she lives on in this family, in the giggles of her siblings, in the love that she continues to inspire in us all.

Moving on is hard, but life at times demands it. I picture the hands of my loved ones reaching in and lifting me from my fort of boxes. I promise myself I will be extra gentle on my broken heart at this time of change, grateful that I have a precious baby girl to miss as I take a tentative step forward into my next chapter.