Six years ago today

Posted: May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Six years ago, I experienced a day I will never forget.

In the morning, 16 weeks pregnant, I went to my midwife appointment to get my baby’s heartbeat checked out. Having miscarried before, more than once, I was expecting the worst. But, in her words, it was “a good strong heartbeat”. I was so excited that I rang my mum, as I was on my way to be observed in a lesson for the PGCE I was studying for at the time. As I walked past the admin buildings at what was then NCYPE (now Young Epilepsy), I rang my mum to tell her about the heartbeat. She sounded a bit sniffly, but when I asked her what was up she said she was coming down with a cold. Fair enough.

I took my lesson – music & movement for special needs students – and the observation went well. I was at last successfully pregnant, I was possibly the beginnings of a good teacher, my little brother had recently had a beautiful baby boy, and I was feeling happy about everything.

Then I saw a voicemail had been left on my phone. It was my cousin, in Ireland. He’d left a slow and solemn message, simply saying hello and asking for my younger brother’s number. I rang my mum back again, asking what the hell was going on. ‘Don’t worry’, she said, ‘it’s just your family being weird as ever.’ Ever the optimist, I forgot about it and carried on with my day.

Early evening, I was back at home and, I seem to remember, grappling with iron tablets and the stomach ache they were causing. There was a knock at the back door of our tiny cottage. Joolz answered. It was the elder of my younger brothers, Adam. I later found out that Joolz had known he was coming. He had come to tell me that my nephew, Theo, the 5 week old son of my younger brother, had died. My family had known since the morning, but knowing that I had so much going on that day, had chosen to tell me later, in person, gently.

Without having since had Arthur, I would never have even begun to understand the pain that my brother and his partner were going through, that day and ever since. I hope I never will.

This year though, for some reason, I felt the pain of that day more than ever before. Perhaps it was because Arthur said something really funny. That he’d swum on his own for the first time. The fact that my bloody CD in the car played song after song that reminded me of that day.

I’m glad it did, though. I’ve cried a lot today. Partly because I’m still so sad about the pain Theo’s mum and dad have to bear each day. Partly because I have a son so near to his age that every time he reaches a milestone I know it’s one they’ll never see in Theo. But also partly because, that day, that week, and ever since, I’ve experienced what a close family we are, through thick and thin, and I’m proud to have them around me. So that makes me cry a bit, too, in a good way.

That day I will never, ever forget. A little piece of my soul died that day.

And, just because I can never write anything without a bit of shameless self-promotion, here are a couple of lines from the song I wrote for Theo:

“Lazy shadow, linger on, please excuse me if I can’t stop holding on…”

Hold on to those you love, near or far…

And, most importantly, rest in peace, little guy X

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