One step on the journey back to a new normal
Everything changes when your child dies. Everything you though mattered, everything you worried about, everything you desired – it all pales into insignificance.
I feel like a caterpillar that suddenly became suspended in time, then turned into an amorphous mass of gloopy nothingness inside a chrysalis before starting the transformation process to reform and maybe one day emerge as a butterfly and find wings to fly into a new world. Who am I now?
I have spoken before about functioning without knowing how, and when I shouldn’t be functioning. I should be a broken, weeping, quivering mess. However in the six months since Toby went away I have nursed my Dad through cancer and watched him die. I arranged his funeral the week after attending the inquest into my son’s death. I started a blog, went on a retreat, survived Christmas, wrote an article for a newspaper about my loss and found a job.
I joined a choir, started Salsa lessons and am taking a college course in counselling skills. Others comment that they don’t know how they would cope if the same tragedy had entered their lives.
I often think about this. If you had asked me 6 months ago how I imagined I would cope if I lost Toby I would have been 9 million per cent certain that I would not have been able to go on. What does that mean ‘I can’t go on?’ Does it mean you are at the place where Toby was? I did have very dark moments in the early days, and it is still difficult to live every day with the knowledge that I will never see my son again, hear his voice, see him grow older or hold him in my arms. However somehow I get up every day and get through that day and wake up again the next.
Last Monday I started a new job. It is a good job and I am really enjoying it. I feel normal. I have a job.
I faced up to the question ‘So do you have children?’ and I answered honestly while not revealing how Toby died, I told them I had a son but he tragically died. They didn’t know what to say but I reassured them that I am getting on with my life and I am OK talking about it.
Phew – I was glad that this was over with and glad I answered honestly. I have every right to be getting on with my life but I felt guilty at the end of the week as I realised I enjoyed the week and had not thought about Toby very much. I want to feel close to him every day.
So today is Sunday and it is hard when I am here – just me again. ‘It’s a M*****f***** Getting through a Sunday, talking to the wall just me again (from the song played at Toby’s funeral, It’s a M*****f***er by Eels)
But this week was a milestone, a step on the way back to a new normal. My article has had an amazing ripple effect, resulting in a national charity that works to prevent suicide in young people asking me to be a trustee. So I can really start to make a difference.
I am learning new lessons every day, but the most important one being, if you are brave enough to face up to what life gives you and find the gift, amazing miracles can happen.
Toby, I hope you are proud of your Mum. I will always love you and I have to find a way to live without your presence, and find a meaning and a purpose but I will never forget you ever, not even when I am a hundred.
If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together,
there is something you must always remember
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think
But the most important thing is,
even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you
Winnie The Pooh