“I feel OK, today quite content really. I feel quite happy, life is good.”
“But how can you possibly be happy? Your son is dead. You can’t possibly be happy? What kind of mother are you? Didn’t you love him enough? You should be devastated, grief stricken, unable to go on”
I look at his photo, but I don’t connect his image with grief and despair, on the contrary, I usually smile and say “Hello Toby” and kiss my finger and place it on his forehead on the picture.
Then the thoughts start. I start remembering how awful it is that my son is dead, and if I really sat down and allowed myself to go there I would be grief stricken and unable to go on, but I don’t allow it.
I allow myself to feel happy, I don’t really connect the two things. It kind of drives me mad, but this is normal for me now.
This feeling torn between forgetting and feeling happy and remembering and feeling bad. If I don’t think about how awful it is all the time, does that mean it isn’t that bad, am I a bad mother?
No of course not, but we do live in a society where we are constantly judging each other whether we want to admit it or not.
I can’t explain very well what I am trying to say, I know I never imagined I could ever have a happy life without a healthy happy Toby in it. Toby was my world, my everything, my Universe, my beautiful boy. How could life ever go on without him?
All I can tell you is I believe in the incredible power of the human spirit to cope with the most terrible tragedy and survive, it is like our liver, we can slice it in half but it will recover and regenerate, and though it will never be as good as new it allows us to function.
So my psyche tells me I can’t possibly feel happy, and yet I do and I know if Toby was here, he would give me some Toby wisdom and would probably say, “This is really shit, and I’m sorry Mum, but I want you to be happy, don’t live in misery because of what I have done, that was never my intention”
When my Mum died I read a classic poem by Christina Rossetti which expresses the sentiment beautifully
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.