Tuesday, September 1, 2009

“Sometimes we end up doing what we are capable of whether we like it or not.”

Yesterday was my eldest son's birthday. It is also the anniversary of his death. I can't quite believe it is 7 years ago since his traumatic birth. Since the day that I held him in my arms for the first and last time. Became a mother yet had no baby to take home from hospital. No child to care for. No proof in fact, to most of the world around me, that I was a mother.

But the love that I felt on that day changed me forever. And despite the fact that my son is not physically in my life, the love remains as strong as ever.

I thought it would get easier as time went on but if anything it becomes harder every year. I'm not sure why this is, although I think it is something to do with the fact that I have a far deeper understanding of what I am missing out on through the lives of my two living boys. It's impossible to picture him as being 7. For me he will always be the tiny, tiny baby wrapped in a blanket, lighter than a bag of sugar, sticking his miniature tongue out and grasping my little finger with surprising strength while his life slowly and peacefully ebbed away.

Yesterday I ached with his loss. I sat in the car and listened to 'his song'.

"And the tears come streaming down your face
when you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
just what you're worth

...and I will try to fix you"

I so wish I could have 'fixed' him. I sat in the car, numb with unshed tears, my chest constricted with love and loss. And then I saw it. A cement mixer. With his name on the front. Mack. It trundled slowly past me and finally I started to cry. Then a garbage truck came past. Yet another Mack. Then another cement mixer. Hello my lovely boy. I miss you so much. And I am so sorry if I failed you. Thank you so much for being in my life, however fleeting. I feel so much more love, due to meeting you. My heart will be forever expanded, because it carries you in it.

I slowly started to smile, remembering the intense peace and joy when he was placed in my arms, even though I knew his death was inevitable and imminent. That's what I have to remember, to carry on with life. That's what I have to focus on. There is no other option. Heartache, bitterness and anger will not honour his memory. In those precious moments of his life we shared a powerful bond that no one will ever be able to take away from me. My gorgeous boy. One of my greatest blessings.

Later in the day I went and bought 7 white balloons and also cupcakes. No better way of celebrating a birthday than with balloons and mini mountains of chocolate frosting. On the day that Mack was cremated our friends and family in England each bought a white balloon and released it into the sky. Ex and I did the same on the beach on Chicago. And now it has become our annual tradition. A small comfort. A simple act of remembrance.

I have much in my life to be grateful for. Did I ever think this would happen to me? No of course not. But would I have it any other way? Not if it meant not meeting Mack at all. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would relive those hours and savour every second.

I think this post really encapsulates how I feel, now time is moving on. How I would love to have the talent to write like this (but then again, I am grateful that I can write at all). This mother buried 2 of her children, 3 years apart and I unashamedly stole the title of her post. This particular paragraph says it all really:

"Yes, it was brutal; but yes, we were capable of getting through it, whether we liked it or not. And I’m okay with just “getting through” those days…can’t really expect much more than that, you know? The trick is, getting through all the rest of the days that follow. All the ones AFTER your loved one dies. How we do that is ultimately our choice. And I choose LIFE. I choose sandy beaches and ice cream cones and long walks and good music and cold beer. And man, am I lucky to be sharing all of these things with the finest mixture of friends and family a girl could ever ask for."


  1. Nic love,
    You did not fail him.
    What you did was perfect....you loved him.
    And now you two more boys to love with that amazing heart of yours.

  2. How can you think you failed him? You still love and miss him after all these years. That's not failing. x

  3. This was a beautifully written post so full of love for your son. I'm incredibly moved by it. Thank you. x

  4. You are Amazing. Thank you so much for posting this. Cant see the damned key board for tears. Kisses and hugs to you. Will send up a white balloon for your little Mack. If I may... and that quote at the end of your post... to actively choose cold beer and sandy beaches, is so wise and wonderful. I feel like I know a little more now, of what we are supposed to know, in this mad world of ours. Many, many thanks. xxx

  5. I am moved beyond words.

    You did not fail him, not one bit.



  6. Very moving, amazing post.
    Sending love your way.

  7. What a beautifully sad post, and a wonderful tribute to your firstborn. Hugs to you, x

  8. Very touching post. I can't imagine. I just love the "signs" of his name that were presented to you. That must've been somewhat comforting but heartbreaking at the same time.

    Hugs and love to you.

  9. What a beautiful, moving tribute to Mack, and motherhood, and loss and love. Your strength is inspiring. Thank you for sharing. xx

  10. You've made me cry. What a beautiful post and what a lot of love you have. Somewhere a happy little soul knows that his mother loves him and that's all any child needs.

  11. Mack was really lucky to have a wonderful mum like you. What a wonderful post, beautifully written, very raw and courageous, and very inspirational.

  12. Gosh Nic. I came online to comment on your previous (raccoon) post which I thought was one of the funniest I have ever read. Since I read it (yesterday, but had no time to comment) you've posted again: without doubt one of the the most eloquent, moving accounts of loss, ever. I feel so priviledged to have read it. xxx

  13. You are all so wonderful to leave me such amazing, thoughtful and heart felt comments. Thank you so much. I think the reason I feel I failed Mack is that the reason he was born so prematurely was due to a uterine abnormality which was only discovered when I was pg with Captain Underpants. He was perfectly healthy. The autopsy report stated everything was 'unremarkable'. Unremarkable?? He was fucking perfect and remarkable in every way! But of course what they meant was that there was nothing wrong with him. Nothing. He would have been alive if my uterus hadn't decided, in all its abnormal wisdom, to expel him early so that he had no chance of survival. I know I couldn't help this. I know it isn't what I wanted. I know I had no control over it. But I still to this day feel that my body (and therefore me) was responsible.. Well, someone has to take responsible for the loss of a life, don't they? And as his mother, it is the very least I can do. To be responsible for his conception and ultimately his untimely death.

    Anyway, I really really appreciate the fact that you took the time to read this post and to make such meaningful comments. I treasure each and every one of them.


  14. That must have been so difficult for you to write, it's a beautiful tribute to your son and he is very lucky to have had you as his mummy. I am sat here in tears, such a moving post your boys have a brilliant mum and you should be proud of how you have embraced your life and carried on. I definitely belive that "signs" do happen and the fact you seen his name just moments after thinking of him is wonderful x x

  15. Oh honey - you've really moved me to tears here. So beautifully written and so full of love. And please, you are in no way responsible for his death. Not at all. No one is. It doesn't have to be somebody's fault - especially not yours. Thank you for sharing this. Big hugs x

  16. I think you are absolutely amazing. I'm crying too.

  17. What a wonderfully moving and inspiring post. We've been there, and we know that pain. And nothing - nothing - ever makes it better. But what a lovely, lovely outlook on it all...

  18. Oh my God, I am SO glad I'm jet-lagged and sitting here on my own in the early morning. With tears streaming down my face. Bless you and your child.

  19. I've just read this post. Somehow, I've been avoiding it. Madette fell out of the nest too early and I spent days and weeks sitting by the side of the incubator living each day as a small hard-won battle. She's small and clumsy but what a trivial price to pay. I found out that I was really good at getting pregnant. Brilliant at being pregnant. Crap at staying pregnant.

    But you did not fail your lovely boy. You did the only thing he ever wanted. You loved him all his life.

    I've wiped away the tears and I'm going to give Madette and Junior Mad a big hug when I see them.

    With love to you and your boys. All of them.

    Mad x

  20. What an incredible post. I found it very very moving, the way you describe the huge love you have for your son, and the intensity of being with him.

  21. Oh my goodness - I am so moved by this and can only applaud your incredible strength. Keep releasing those balloons - what a beautiful way to remember him.

  22. Oh Nic, you poor thing to have to go through that. Thank you for sharing Mack's story with us. I can only reiterate what others have said that you most certainly did not fail him. There's surely no way you, or anyone, could have been aware of this uterine failure and you gave him all the love you could.

    I'm glad to know Mack's story and will think of him whenever I see a white balloon now. My thoughts are with you.

  23. I can't even begin to imagine going through that . . . I lost my DD2, Michelle ("ma belle"), to a genetic defect I passed on to her, but DD was my reason for continuing to get up in the morning. It's good for me to be reminded of that on the days when she's driving me nuts! Thank you for sharing this!