I am standing on the periphery.
The periphery of the life that should have been mine. The life that should have belonged to Hugo.
I am standing on the lip of a chasm. The chasm that my life fell in to.
Two years ago this week I discovered I was pregnant. Oh, the joy and disbelief – two little lines, finally! Two years of trying.
Two years ago, there was so much to look forward to.
Hours spent poring over information about pregnancy. Comparing the size of my unborn baby to items of fruit. Feeling my baby kick inside my belly. Hours spent choosing what I would buy for our baby. So much excitement, anticipation, love.
Preparing, as best we can, for our baby to arrive in our lives. To change our lives.
But the pregnancy and baby books don’t prepare you for this, do they?
Motherhood with no baby in my arms to dote on.
Two years ago this month, I discovered I was pregnant. But this month, I am experiencing my second baby loss awareness month.
Life is full of funny little ironies, isn’t it?
Last year was my first baby loss awareness week. I was still deep in the darkness. Inky black complete darkness, the kind where you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. A prisoner to my grief. Angry with myself, the world, everything. The chasm between understanding me – understanding myself and this new life I had found myself in – widening. Relationships fractured. Some on the other side of the chasm. By choice or by circumstance? Can they be repaired? I don’t know. I hope so.
One day at a time. One challenge at a time.
Trapped in a cycle of numbness, disbelief. Grief is ugly, there is no escaping that. It has to be experienced, lived through, there are no short cuts.
I look back to last year and do not recognise myself. I scared myself, sometimes, especially with the ferocity of my fury.
But there is no shame, no remorse. It was part of what was done to me. It is not my fault. I did what I have to do to get myself through. To survive, to get my head around things no one should have to strive to understand, to come to terms with. To have to learn to accept.
This year, now, light is seeping through. Co-existing with grief in an uncomfortable marriage of inconvenience, and there is no chance of divorce.
The numbness has worn off now, mostly. There is still a sense that things are not quite real. But sometimes I feel too much. Too often on the verge of tears. These emotions are better out than bottled up, they say. ‘They’ probably don’t have to live with how bloody exhausting it is, though.
With the arrival of the light has come beautiful friendships, opportunities, things to be grateful for. Still, too often I feel on the wrong side of a glass wall. It’s no one’s fault. People are living their lives the best they can, just as I live mine. It can feel like the glass wall is there on account of the numbness, the feeling of my life now not being real.
But I can see everything I wanted, other people living the life I wanted. All I can do is watch.
I can feel as though I am on the periphery of life.
The darkness follows the light, just as night follows day.
I am standing on the precipice. Sometimes I slip, grip on with the tips of my fingers.
I know I can climb back up. I have done it so many times since Hugo died. But I worry that one day my safety rope will snap.
Please don’t let me fall.
Don’t let me fall back in to the darkness.
Because this is the truth. The reality of being a bereaved parent. Parenting a memory, nurturing a legacy.
The knowledge that nothing will be right again. Something – someone – will always be missing.
I will keep on keeping on, as always. Making the best of things. Trying to take the positives from a tragedy. Telling the world about my Hugo. My special little boy making a difference for so many other families in his memory, his legacy, he will never be forgotten. Looking after myself as much as I can, yes.
But still, the feeling lingers: no matter how much I try to fix myself there will be parts that will remain forever broken. There will always be a part that feels like I am standing on the periphery.