It is certainly not unique experience to the babylost parent to feel cold horror creep when they hear of another parent losing their child. You do not have to have watched a child die, or be told your child has died, to know that it would be the most terrible thing, the most dreadful thing, to experience. It is not a requirement to walk the path before hearing that news makes you hug tight and hold longer at bedtime that night.
What has changed for me, since we walked away from Freddie’s body that day, is the sheer fury at the helpless state we are in. I can’t stop it, we can’t stop it, no one can stop the pain, or the deaths, or the loss or the devastating emptiness that follows. What I find hardest to accept is that there is so often no answer, no explanation, no fix, no comfort in understanding. What shocked me was that death was so final, so relentlessly indiscriminate. I watched my children like a hawk for all that time, guarded them as carefully as I could – and was utterly powerless to stop death from creeping in.
What makes me angry is that there is no fairness; I have not paid my dues, I have no been inoculated against it happening again tomorrow. I cannot hand in my ticket to death, say I’ve paid and go on from here with all my chicks tucked safely in the basket. It can just keep happening, to me, to my neighbour, to a man I am no more than passably fond of through knowing him through work. It could happen at 11 days, 11 weeks, 11 years and 18 years; it could happen at 31 or 37 or when I’m old and grey but still walking when my child has stopped and will walk no more.
I can understand why religions are built on the idea of one great payment that will rid hearts and arms of pain and grief and loss forever more. It feels like Freddie’s death should be enough to me too; it feels like this grief is so huge that it ought to weight the world till it tips and tilts and no one else could die because nothing could ever be so huge for ever onwards.
But it isn’t true. In the end, like every other baby and child and person, it is not enough. That is not how it works. There is no payment and no end and that makes it all seem so pointless. It will never stop.
Tonight I am thinking of E and his parents and his brother and sister, who start the longest journey of their lives without him, without the young man who should have the world opening at his feet.
Wishing I could make it better. Knowing I can’t. But thinking and sending love, because that at least I can do.