Sunday, 26 July 2009

Grief, expectation and the mind of toddlers

It is just over two weeks until the due date of my niece/nephew. Sudden realisation has kicked in that my sister in law is almost full term, and things could happen any time. Her pregnancy has passed so quickly, and only today did we get reasonably organised-even though I still don't know the route to the hospital. Me and a mutual friend will be her birth partners, which I'm both looking forward to immensely while being ever so slightly anxious if I'll be any good at it. So I'm glad I won't be alone, although it will be tricky to be ready with the 4 children between us. But we will, of that I'm sure.

This weekend, we visited the place where I last saw my brother in law. It was the hardest day in a long time, where with all the efforts of holding back tears I could not. And who cares anyway if tears well up or not, nobody's business but mine. Cubling's toddler mind displayed unexplained memory and knowledge. She'd done something similar before. For the first time in 7 months she asked for her cousin's daddy: Where x's daddy? Where uncle x? By name and description. Not once, not twice, but about 10 times in a day, and the following days, all triggered by the visit to the place where she too last saw him, as if he was still there, and could be plucked from memory. How I wish that was true. I didn't know if to stop her inquisitive and innocent two year old mind and mouth because it pains us so much to hear the question, yet she has a right to know, as much as it's a parent's instinct to keep all things death away from our children. I tried to explain, and she mouthed the words after me, understand she did not. Much like all of us. Above all, she missed him as we acutely did too.

I haven't explicitly blogged about this before, because words just won't come. And it felt very wrong at the time to blog about this. I felt uncomfortable to the extreme. I still feel uncomfortable and still unsure if I should talk about this here, yet don't see how over the next weeks I can keep blogging without bringing these facts into the open. Everything I'll be doing, much like half of my time in the past 7 months has already been, will be shaped by these facts. They are part of me and as much as I'd like to keep them private, I need to share them in some form here for upcoming posts to make sense.

So what happened? My brother in law, a healthy young man, got the flu, sought medical treatment, was told to just rest and that he'll be grand, only to end up in hospital some hours later when all was too late. He passed away on Christmas Day. My sister in law was 7 weeks pregnant with their second child.

For my part, I've tried with all my might to focus on the positives, because the loss is so big that it threatens to take over everything every single day. Still. I've used this blog for tracing the good moments we've had, while feeling always guilty to even suggest that any good could ever come from this. It's just that good things do happen and all we can try and do is focus on them, not to forget, but to keep going. I don't want to delve into cliches, simply what happened was so utterly wrong, shouldn't have happened, wasn't something we ever imagined could happen. It's good to have toddlers the same age who, when thrown together, take the intensity of parenting away to give respite. Well, they do fight a fair bit, they're two-year-olds after all. Having a family who truly sticks together. The baby. So hard to look forward to, yet so important to do so. Trying to take Cubling's cousin as an example who doesn't realise what's gone, just knows what's there, even though he holds on to that so much harder than before. I hold on to the memory of that last day spent together, how perfect it was, how happy he and his family were. How he showed Cubling giant squids, dolphins, mermaids and sea horses that day. And clearly, she must have remembered in some way because her questions came out of the blue as soon as she saw the giant squid model, without warning.

At this point in time, the grief seems momentarily being overtaken by a burst of activity, the practicalities of welcoming a new life into this broken world.

4 comments:

Mwa said...

So wonderful that you can be there for your sister-in-law at this time. Condoleances for your loss.

Noble Savage said...

I'm sorry to hear about your brother-in-law, that's so hard. I hope your sis-in-law finds new strength and joy in birthing the baby they created together.

SandyCalico said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope it helps you to write about it. I'm sure the birth will be emotional, but you will all find strength from somewhere. x

Who's the Mummy? said...

Such an emotional time, and a very moving post. Best of luck to your sister with the birth.

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