And now, 2 years and 6 months and 2 days on, I understand why those veterans stand in solemn silence once a year. I understand the sober pride, the gentle, stony set of mouth and cheek, the simple grace of defiant, silent, remembrance.
I am almost there. And if I live another 40 years, this day, on this day as on many others, I will set my lips and grimly smile and remember bitter joy and hopeless love.
This year I am close to fierce pride, not wrecked pain. And if I wish that I and those who stand in rank beside me, had no need to salute the lost in solemn salty silence, I am grateful to know them, grateful for their company, proud of these friendships which might never have been mine without my boy. Without the very withoutness of my boy.
We lit an candle tonight. Maddy told me of a piece of artwork she is planning and my throat constricted. No one forgets. No one is left behind. Bene witnessed a candle in the window for the first time. By next year he will be asking why.
I can’t do better the the words I wrote last year, though I wish I could. So I will repeat them. Forgive me.
This year, like last year, I remember.
I remember Freddie.
I remember a twin.
I remember Evie Rose.
I remember Benjamin.
I remember Joel.
I remember Toby and Estella.
I remember Sophia and Thomas.
I remember Matthew.
I remember Lily.
I remember the lost potential children of friends & family who I love.
I remember Florence Violet and Emma Faith, daughters of mothers I knew before these losses pulled us together.
I remember Daniel.
I remember Minnie.
I remember Thomas.
I remember Jack.
And I remember all the babies of people who have kept me sane this last 18 months and 2 days on my blog, on their blogs, and at Glow. A list I will inevitably keep adding to for days as I get to yet another blog I read and realise the enormity of loss that silently surrounds us. (Forgive me if I have not yet added your child, please remind me, my memory & rss feed are equally inadequate prompts.)
I remember Iris.
I remember Lucia.
I remember Georgina.
I remember Charlotte.
I remember Alex.
I remember Reid.
I remember Hope.
I remember Haloumi.
I remember Gabriel.
I remember Micah.
I remember Cullen.
I remember Otis.
I remember Foster.
I remember Liam.
I remember Laura.
I remember Joseph.
I remember Snowflake.
I remember Margot.
I remember Catriona.
I remember Isabelle.
I remember Rhianna Lily, who joins this list this year.
I remember Daisy, who joins this list this year.
I remember all the babies of the men and women on Glow who have stood beside me this year.
I am thinking of the babies who belong to women who have told me their stories this year in person, to comfort me and abide with me, but who have not always told me their names.
I am thinking of babies held in hearts and kept private to their families.
I am thinking of the mothers for whom hope was gone almost before it had taken root.
I am thinking of the babies who were longed for and never came.
I am thinking of the mothers for whom pregnancy became surgery & medical procedures.
I am thinking of the women who made the decision to say goodbye for a greater good, while it tore their hearts out and broke their souls.
I am thinking of the mothers who discovered horror on a day that should have meant a whether pink or blue nursery needed preparing.
I am thinking of the mothers who felt stillness where a moment before there had been back flips.
I am thinking of the mothers who prepared or laboured to deliver a baby knowing they would never hear a cry.
I am thinking of the mothers who unexpectedly heard the loudest silence in the world.
I am thinking of the parents who hovered over a neonatal crib, hoping for a miracle, learning medical terms they never wanted to know.
I am thinking of the parents who chose the moment of their child’s last breath and held them as they died.
I am thinking of the parents who didn’t get there in time to do that.
And of all those who fall into the myriad of cracks between, each a chasm as deep and dark as any other.
And for the fathers, the siblings, the aunts and uncles and grandparents for whom life is never quite the same again.
I joined the #waveoflight on Instagram and saw the photos mount up of candles around the world. So many babies, too many babies. This snapshot of some of them squeezed my heart.
But most of all, I remember my little boy by looking afresh at a photo I have been saving, as I eek out the 30 or so snaps of him I have so I can savour him through the years.
Our beautiful, beautiful boy. Darling Freddie.