The thing about grief is…
The thing about grief…
The thing is…
It’s never over. That’s old, an old and hardly illuminating observation.
Some days I’m almost there.
Some days I’m in hiding. Some days I find I’ve absorbed the status quo so well that I almost believe that I, like everyone else in this house, prefer not to say his name.
Perhaps they think that I prefer that.
Perhaps they keep silent believing that I keep going because of, only because of, silence.
It might even be true.
There are days with peace.
Days when he waves and I’m okay with that. Days when I rage that my strewn seeds fall on barren ground, ears that close and mouths that do not reply.
But we learned the steps of a dance and dance it we do.
Until one day, one morning, just out of nowhere, Bene picked up his photos. He pointed all of us out and then says “Baby?”
We haven’t told him about Freddie. I know everyone does it differently but I didn’t want him to grow up in a shadow, I didn’t want him overshadowed. Perhaps I was afraid of what the shadow might do.
I haven’t even whispered, for fear of him remembering those whispers and feeling second best.
All babies are ‘BabyBene’ to him, because that’s what his little cousins call him. When he sees a photo of himself he knows it is him. He’s clear in that.
He didn’t say Baby Bene, just Baby. And asked.
So we told him, the 3 of us who were there. We told him it was Baby Freddie and let him look at the photos and ask us.
I’ll never forget the moment. We all went quite still, watchful, like animals beneath the hawk, like skiers frozen as the snow slips slightly around them and they wait to see if the world will crash down.
He pointed to us all. And then he pointed to the window ledge with candle, keepsakes and the weight of my love and tears poured on it. There isn’t a photo there though, nothing to tell a boy of 2 that it is a relic shelf of a lost brother.
“Baby Freddie all gone,” he said. Gently, very gently. He’s a rumbustious boy, given to throwing and hurling and fast moment.
He was very gentle. He put the photos back, absorbed the moment, seemed respectful.
And I was wrecked for the day. I was grateful, sad, overwhelmed. And sealed my own fate. If you mention his name, mummy will cry.
He’s come back several time since to ask more.
“Baby Freddie,” he asks, the name particularly spoken in a way that makes me ache to imagine them as brothers, Bene adoring him as he adores his big boy cousin.
And it is done now. He knows. He doesn’t know what he knows, but in our stillness, our held breaths, we told him that Baby Freddie means something he can’t yet comprehend and that he will have to carve his own place into the pain that knitted us 6 together back then.
It was my turn to write at Glow last week. I’ve been finding writing there hard. Bene helped me there. There is still so much work to do inside me.