Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's that time of year again...

Warning: there may be a little profanity here. I'm just going to write it as I think it, so hopefully you'll understand and won't be offended.

It's that time of year again - the run up to what would have been Josie's third birthday. When people said this wouldn't get any easier year after year, they weren't wrong. My mum - or Mutti, as we call her - still cries every time she visits my brother Finn's grave. He would have been 25 on September 22nd.

This time three years ago, I would have been washing and folding baby clothes. I still have visions of them laying out on the floor in piles of tops; onesies; little pants; little tiny socks. I took pictures, which will of course now haunt me forever.

May I just take this opportunity to say how utterly crap it is to have a dead child? It just doesn't go away - not even slightly. Nothing can make it better really - you just have to tend to the wounds when they surface, which they frequently do. You have to adopt coping mechanisms for the sadness like someone with a heart condition who has to carry pills around. God, it's so frikken crippling, it really is.

The real kicker is the fact that so many people who lose children then get to watch their families fall apart at the seams afterward. They get to watch people previously doing well go back to the booze and lose everything in the process - their children too. Some days it's hard to get going even slightly. Some days I wish I could just win a little on the lottery, even though I don't play it - just so that I could sit completely still on bad days and do nothing at all. Nothing at all.

The messed up thing is that after you lose a child, about 97% of the world's population doesn't understand you any more. I'm so aware of my own mortality nowadays that it's stupid - maybe long ago when infant death rates were higher, the support would be there - the understanding. With the advent of wonderful new medical procedures and interventions that understanding and the willingness to talk about babies and children dying has gone away. So you end up as this person just floating free of all the rest of the people, utterly knowing that everything could be taken away at any given moment. If people found you hard to "get" before, trust me, you'll really be a mystery after you lose a child. It's really fucking lonely in here.

Like I've said before, dying isn't hard - it's easy. It's not as painful as you might think either because the body takes over and pumps all this pain relieving stuff through your veins. Even when you're bleeding to death, you can comfortably remain in denial until the blood all comes out on the floor and then you just look, surprised, thinking "gosh, that was all inside me a minute ago - I'm probably fucked now." So don't be afraid, people - don't be afraid to die. To quote Kevin Kline from the wonderful French Kiss, "I promise you, if we crash, you won't feel a thing."

It's that time of year I find myself transported back in time to the weeks before Josie died. In stunning clarity, I sit behind the wheel of a Dodge Magnum thinking "I really shouldn't be driving this pregnant - it's so uncomfortable!" Frank Sinatra is playing on the stereo and I have McDonalds on the passenger seat because it's the most frequently found restaurant up and down I-35 and I was too hungry to wait. They have a special going on with the Chicken Tenders. I'm wearing a maternity top with a tie at the waist - it's very pretty and made out of some slippery artificial material which slides around on my belly. My feet are hot and a bit swollen in my flat shoes. Endless phone calls stress me out; I'm fighting a losing battle at work.

Sure, I could go and be diagnosed with PTSD - after all, the flashbacks are extremely upsetting, random and interfere with my life. But what good would that do? I'd be labeled incurable. I'll just stick with what I have: an intense desire to go back in time and pull the car over, stop, somehow change everything.

I miss you, Josie. I wanted you. I love you still. I wish you weren't dead. I will never forget holding you in my arms, all 6lb 6oz of you - you were so beautiful. If I could have died instead of you, I would have - in a heartbeat. You would have done a better job at life than me - of that I have no doubt.