I am the Grinch and I am Scrooge. I do not want Christmas cheer. I do not want the fun to start. I do not want lights or jolly men in red suits, or greenery to signify life, or newborn boys in mangers or light to wash away the dark or death.
I do not want anyone to wish me Happy Christmas. I am the ghost of Christmas Gone Very Wrong Indeed and I’m walking wraith-like and no one comes near. No one can touch.
Don’t wish me Happy Christmas. It is too soon to even want to be happy. It hurts to be happy.
I am silenced by the knowledge that at this time of year it is not fair to ask people to hear, that people all have their own touch of grief to tinge Christmas with, that everyone wants to smile, have fun, enjoy and put aside their troubles for a while. When I went away I was mortified to be the person with the stretched and strained face, the elephant in the room, the one who pulls down the fun by a notch, sucking away the molecules of delight with the osmosis of grief. I hid, because it felt horrible to be the person people laughed around and I worried I made them flinch.
It’s no different here. I should be writing joy and craft and decorating. I should have photos of wreaths and candles and home made snowflakes. I’m silenced because I know that no one should have to read of lost children and death at Christmas.
But the drum beats very loud this weekend. My boy is dead, my boy is dead, my boy is dead.
I’ll never laugh at how different to the girls he is, I’ll never bring home the wealth of toys I marked out for him from work. I’ll never dress him in a cute outfit and I’ll never tuck him up for his first Christmas. There are 4 chocolates in the advent calender, there will be 4 stockings left out. 4, not 5.
My boy is dead, my boy is dead.
I thought, when I left him, already cold, already white, that I would grieve and mourn for a newborn. I thought he would be my forever baby, that the feeling of him frail and new and held against my chest would be what I remembered.
It is not so. He’s grown in my memory. I can feel the weight of him in my arms and on my hip. I can feel him twine his fingers in my hair and pull my lips, pat my breasts, wind his arms around my neck and squeeze. I feel the 8 month old, not the newborn. Maybe it will always be so.I can hear my words spoken to him, baby babble for a bright-eyed, thoughtful little boy… “Yes, lights, aren’t they pretty? Look at the lights Freddie…. can you see the presents? What’s in there? Whose that for? No… no.. don’t touch.. not yet… come and see the lights….”
Perhaps, when were old, we’ll sit at the table on Christmas Day and I’ll look around and think “there should be a 40 year old here” – and a tear will drip on to my nose and Max will look and the girls will look and they know that still… still… I cry for Freddie.
I made 4 piles of presents on my bed. 4 not 5.
My boy is dead, my boy is dead.
No baby will delight in the wrapping paper this year. We won’t laugh at the boy who prefers the boxes.
We won’t even turn away house guests because the room they used to sleep in is now a hospital room and we’re worn out looking after him. We won’t spend Christmas Day with one at home and one bent over a cot in a children’s ward, wondering if this is it, if this is the time he doesn’t pull through.
I wish I could go back. I wish I’d had the strength left in me to just hold on a bit longer and see if a miracle was coming. I thought it wasn’t, but maybe I was just too tired to see.
I don’t want the year to come and next year to start. Next year will be the first year ever in my life where Freddie isn’t in the future or the present. He’ll be the past. Just 2 more birthdays, both in the first few weeks and we’ll all be older than we were when he was born.
When I said goodbye to him, it was because I knew I had to give the future a chance and that holding on to him meant no future at all. I didn’t realise it might mean no future at all anyway.
Whatever sins and misdemeanour’sÂ the universe is punishing me for, it sure got me good.
My boy is dead, my body is barren, my arms are emptier than they should be.
My boy is dead. My boy is dead.