I can feel its approach.
Winding its way through my body, it infiltrates my inner most parts, weaves around my bones and buries itself deep within my soul.
I wonder how long my guest will stay for this time?
I’m trying desperately to stay mindful that these more intense visits are to be expected and I remind myself quietly that just as every time before: “this too shall pass.”
As the days speed by, I can feel the grip of grief grab my stomach and gently yet firmly wring it like a soggy flannel.
I feel my heart palpitate in a most unusual pattern and it momentarily feels hot as if it has missed a beat or two.
The heat rises in my neck and makes its way through every nerve to the base of my skull before surrounding my head in a hot inner sweat that threatens to seep from my pores as a physical reminder that grief, like the tide, ebbs and flows.
My heart feels heavy. Regardless, it’s been building for some time now, and I know instinctively it’s here to stay for a little while.
I focus hard on what I’m doing; it could be as I’m cooking dinner, putting a wash load on, playing with my beautiful daughter or something else entirely.
Right now, it’s caught up with me in a supermarket. The wind has been knocked from my sails and tears are prickling the back of my eyes threatening to fall. I feel my lip twitch involuntarily.
Grief has me wholly in its grasp; at home, I could ride it out in my own time – goodness knows it won’t leave as swiftly as it arrived.
Triggered into an intense crescendo right now… I was expecting a visit, I just imagined it would occur in a more controlled environment…like home! At home, at least I can walk with it until it’s time to part ways once more.
Here, in the supermarket, I feel suddenly vulnerable.
I’m scared my emotions will rip my carefully placed mask from my well-practiced breezy looking face and I feel sick.
It’s in this moment I’m brutally reminded of another milestone, a huge and wonderful milestone that if Baby David had lived, I’d be embracing with joy, pride and most probably tears and sadness at how fast time flies and how my wee man has grown too quickly.
Emblazoned in every corner of the shop and next to the uniforms, stationary, bags and lunchboxes are huge signs which read: “BACK TO SCHOOL.”
I look down at the floor and pull the skin from under my thumb with the side of my index finger – a habit that seems to calm my anxiety as I focus on deep breaths and recalling my shopping list which seems almost futile.
David should be heading off to big school in just a few days. Wearing his shiny new shoes and a slightly over sized uniform, with his perfect little hand clutching a brand-new book bag swinging proudly.
Baby David won’t be attending school this year. He won’t be attending school at all.
He won’t make friends or leave half eaten, mushy sandwiches in favour of fresh juicy strawberries from his sweaty lunch box.
He won’t take exams or reach high school.
He won’t go to university or discover his vocation.
He won’t have the opportunity to fall in love with the person of his dreams. Nor will he marry or have a family of his own.
He won’t do any of those things because our story – Baby David’s story – ended almost as swiftly as it began.
My heart aches.
When a baby is born without breath, it’s not just their body and mind that die. Hopes and dreams die too.
Milestones will never be realized. Not one.
A precious piece of our life-jigsaw isn’t here on Earth doing the things he may have done and instead, I’m gripped in an overwhelming tide of new grief, wondering just who my boy would have been.
Today I feel so desperately sad. I will cry and breathe through a fresh new bout of pain.
I will stay mindful that it’s healing to grieve and that it’s ok not to be ok every so often.
Mostly, I will grab my board and ride this wave until this too passes; until it does, please forgive my absent, wandering mind, my flakiness and my scatty forgetfulness.
Please forgive my outlandish, ugly mood swings and my inability to be completely present in the moment.
I’m thinking of that classroom and that teacher who will never know her pupil. I’m thinking of the empty chair that should have been filled by Baby David’s fidgeting bottom and the crazy tales he might have told.
I’ll be back soon, once this has passed. Promise.