A few days I caught myself imagining being given £1million a month for life. I realised, with horror really, that it couldn’t make me happier than I am. This is not a bad thing, because aside from tragedy, I think I actually am happy. Roughly £2K a month might take the pressure off financially, but £1million? No. I still wouldn’t have my son. It might make me unhappier.
We listened to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I imagined myself standing in front of that mirror, the one that shows you your hearts desire. What would I wish to see? My son, I suppose, a family of 7 with Freddie in it, all happy and well and safe. But then of course, we wouldn’t be who we are, the girls would not be the people they are and whatever else I think, I actually think they are greater and more amazing for what they have been through in losing their brother. And while we actively try for one more child, I have to accept that whoever might be in our future would not come to be if Freddie had lived. Who knows, one more child might have pressured our marriage – Max and I might not be the rock solid couple we are now if Freddie had lived, well or not well. Freddie has done much, but he has, as it happens, been a child born to fix a marriage. We thought we had him to show it was fixed – he turns out to have been the greatest glue, the greatest reason, the greatest proof of that mend.
And what of the Philosopher’s Stone? Would I choose to live forever now? No. I do know that I have griefs to come in life, Max or I will lose each other, I have not been inoculated against another pregnancy loss or even losing another child. I will live my life as fully and joyfully as I can, but one day I will be glad to lay it down. Life with a lost child in it forever would be intolerable. I have no idea if I’ll join him or meet him somewhere again, but I would not choose forever without him.
Yesterday I went into a shop and had a sudden whim to look for a little bear with Freddie on it. I couldn’t find one but I stumbled across the stand of silly Christmas stockings and festive chimney breasts the girls begged for last year. I said no, inexplicably uncomfortable with buying a chimney with 5 hooks and superstitious about buying a fifth stocking ready for him. I just couldn’t do it, I don’t know why.
Seeing them there yesterday winded me, I was turned to stone in the middle of a card shop. And I swear to whatever there is, as I stood there, the track on the shop music changed and the song that started to buzz around my head as they tried to resuscitate Freddie came on – one line that just went round and around my head in the midst of all the confusion and desperation and people and me still half naked and still finishing giving birth.
“You’re beautiful, it’s true. I saw your face, in a crowded place and I can’t believe it’s true.”
And I thought…. really? Was it necessary? I’ve stopped asking for things, I’ve stopped expecting to be lucky, I’ve given up on expecting to get my wishes or what good I might deserve. Do you really, whoever you are, Universe, have to keep making my life feel like a bad version of The Truman Show?
I stood in the middle of a card shop and cried. Not for Freddie, not for anything except the rest of my life.