This is something I wrote a year ago, on Bear’s anniversary. I didn’t know whether I’d ever publish it but needed that mental release of writing it down. It’s now become quite important to me to hit publish. I sometimes feel like the feelings I have; the way other people’s actions make me feel, are simply excused by saying ‘they’ve not experienced it, they don’t know what to do’. I’ve come to release in three years of bereavement that anger and frustration over this is okay. Acknowledging these feelings of hurt and disappointment has come a long way to helping me live with it. I’ve written a follow up to this, a year on, which I’ll publish a little down the track. Seeing the difference in me in a year has made me proud that I can focus on what deserves my attention the most.
28th September 2017; the eve of the second anniversary of Bear’s death.
I don’t know when I’m going to post this but I’m sat here writing this, the day before the second anniversary of Bear’s death. I’m writing this because over the last few days I’ve worked my butt off to chase her sunshine and put behind me any anger and disappointment I have felt. I feel like I need to write, because even though I’m doing well, and ultimately, this week has been sunny and gorgeous, there’s still some unnecessary darkness lurking in my head. This is an open letter to anyone who met my baby.
Something gutting about our situation is that not all of Bear’s loved ones got to meet her. Only one of my siblings, none of her cousins, one of Chris’ siblings and none of our beautiful friends, her honorary aunts and uncles got to meet her and hold her. They never got to experience her sassy little personality. She did meet some people though. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, a family friend here or there, our midwives, people at my university when we popped in this time two years ago for me to hand in work.
Two years on, whilst many many friends and family choose to openly love and remember our baby those people who met her stand out to me. People who see us regularly and see us grieve are much more comfortable. They remember her with us and are open to our way of grieving, or at least if they aren’t they’re in tune enough to stay quiet about it! Outside of immediate family, close friends and fellow loss parents, I get wound up. Whilst some people are fantastic, others avoid me entirely. There are people who were in our lives before Bear died who just plainly aren’t now. They’ve backed the hell off because they don’t know what to say, because the situation is too difficult, because they’ve left it too long now? Who knows. It makes me feel sick sometimes to think that people were friendly and were involved in some of her life during my pregnancy and have now taken those memories and that bond and are just carrying on with their lives. It makes me feel like she doesn’t matter.
More so, those lucky, lucky people who met her. Who held her. I no longer really speak to anyone from my postgrad university. I don’t speak to anyone who met her that day. It’s all such a blur I don’t remember everyone who exactly did but I definitely remember a good number of faces. The majority never spoke to me again. That day, the day they met my baby, was the last I ever heard of saw them. Apart from immediate family, anyone else who met her doesn’t talk about her. I tried texting my old midwife to tell her about our rainbow; I got no reply. There’s a small number who are in touch with us, who see us and still nothing.
Maybe it’s paranoia, maybe it’s that grieving mother thing where we protect our baby’s memory as fiercely as we would our living child, but I can’t help the way this makes me feel. Nor should I feel bad for the way this makes me feel. Some days I think about this so much. I feel so upset and so down that there are people in the world going about their lives who had the utter privelidge of meeting my little one who don’t say a word. I hope so much that they think about her. That they know how very lucky they are the have seen her gorgeous little personality, living and breathing. To share in our five only days with our baby in our arms as innocent first time parents. I wonder so much what they remember of her, her little fluffy hair? Her soft cheeky milk drunk smirk? I remember after she died desperately wracking my brains to think if anyone else took photos of her and I swear they did; not that I’ve heard anything of it. Imagine that; pictures of her, that I may never see.
I’ll never know. I’ll never know what anyone else, outside of those who speak to me now, remember of her, or why people don’t open up. I wish so much her other aunts and uncles could have met her, instead of those who did. I can’t put words in anybody’s mouth but I know perfectly how this behaviour makes me feel; and by breaking contact after she died, by shutting down communication about her, it makes my head race. Do they not care? Does she not matter now she’s dead? Are we bundled with too much emotional baggage now to be worth bothering with?
This has had a knock on effect to our rainbow. When she was born I was so protective. I didn’t want anyone else involved. I still struggle a lot. I felt sick when I saw other people holding her. The funny thing is I’ve realised that my feelings surrounding how others behave with Bear isn’t even just a grief thing; it’s a normal having-kids thing. As both of my girls have gotten older our circle of family friends who give a crap has significantly diminished. There’s also photos of ‘friends’ holding Bunny who we don’t see anymore, who haven’t been in contact since she was a newborn. Or the ones that were straight there regularly when they could have tiny baby cuddles but now she has preferences over people and might be a bit weary around them? They’re gone.
What I’ve learned from having both my kids is that it really doesn’t take a lot for a situation to get ‘too much’ and people will get too damn ignorant. That’s what it is fundamentally. Ignorance as to how your own words and actions will impact others. It makes me feel as though empathy, and putting yourself in other people’s shoes is completely priceless and so very lost in the modern world. Maybe it is; I think that’s why I’ve been drawn to gentle parenting and doing random acts or kindness for Bear, I want to make the world a kinder place for my kids.
I want to stop letting things eat me up. Whilst I hope, that if I dare to hit publish on this, one day one of those lucky people will read this and just come and talk to me about my beautiful girl, I won’t hold my breath. After two whole years, whatever their reasononing for keeping Bear firmly a quiet part of the past, they don’t communicate willingly. They aren’t open. So ultimately, they’re probably not who we need in our lives.
I just need to look around more. Look at my surroundings. Screw the people who don’t care or at least don’t show that they do. Forget the people silly enough to meet Bear in life, so briefly, but not stick around to watch her legacy flourish and grow. Bear has the best family, starting with Bunny, Dadda & I, and extended with various biological relatives and friends from all walks of life, who remember her, love her and celebrate her right there with us. What else matters when she has that?
My promise to you, Bear, for this year, is that I’m gonna stop letting the actions (or lack of) make me feel rubbish. I’m going to be more kind and open, but not afraid to speak my mind, just like you would be. I’m gonna try my best to continue to be a good friend to our brilliant circle of people who are there for us. When life makes me feel crap I’ll throw that back in it’s face and I’ll be kind of creative. You’re a clever girl, you and Bunny guide me into being the best mama and me I can be. Bring on the terrible twos baby girl!