We arrived home this morning after a quick family holiday we took to try escape for a for a few days and create beautiful memories around the lead up to Elliott’s birthday. It was exactly what we needed right now and did just that. We had a wonderful fun time with easily the best days we’ve had since the day he was turned to stardust.
As it turns out however your heart doesn’t get a holiday from heartbreak. It gets carried with you like undeclared excess baggage heavier than your heart should be able to hold. Leaving behind Elliott’s urn behind was harder than I thought it would be, and not wearing my necklace that contains a tiny bit of his stardust made me feel a bit lost. Holding onto tangible things are what I fall back on to get me through so this was a test of my resilience being without those things.
As the saying goes “he’s always with me” but so much of the time that’s just not enough. I want to hold my baby in my arms not hold him just as a memory. I want to take him on holidays instead of going on holidays to try find some peace amongst the grief of losing him. I want to watch him play in the sand, not just write his name in it. I want to put his feet in sea water not just put flowers in it for him. So although it will never be enough we settle with what we have and can do to find a bit of comfort for all of us.
The question “how many children do you have” got asked daily, a previously easy question that is now so loaded. While I normally answer 3 I answered 2 every time to avoid the conversations that usually follow. Emma became upset hearing me say this and looked at me confused with horror in her face whispering “you have three children Mum, what about Elliott, why did you say that?” I had to explain to her that sometimes it’s just easier that way, which she still didn’t understand and certainly didn’t accept. I tried to explain that adults sometimes find these things hard to hear or talk about. She said to me “but you’re adults, shouldn’t you find it easier because you are older?” and all I could say was “you would think that was the case, but unfortunately not always”. The next couple of times I said 2 she muttered “3” and every time I felt a stab of guilt and questioned why I didn’t listen to my 8 year old who always includes her brother regardless of what response she gets.
I desperately wanted our two earth side children to associate fun and happiness around this time and not just sadness. I needed this for them, for us and for Elliott. You’d never tell from the amazing and beautiful photos we have but no matter how much fun we had (which was a lot), he was never far from our minds or theirs. We kept our thoughts from them but they were very vocal in theirs. Ashton had moments of being very upset telling us “I wish we could bring Elliott here with us”. He started talking again about his imaginary friend who ‘died’ and how he’ll never get to see him again even though he wants to. Then on the morning of going to see Elephants he told us how he hoped there’s a baby elephant there too for Elliott. Emma also burst into tears seemingly out of nowhere at dinner one night saying how much she misses him. Amongst so much happiness we’re still hit with punches to the hearts.
Coming home has also been difficult. I felt reality smack me hard in the face the second we walked through our front doors. The emptiness, the longing, the feeling of being broken again…It was like we came home without our baby all over again. Now we have to deal with the contrast of the holiday to the heartache of his birthday being so soon. Just like 12 months before, we now have to come down from excitement to dealing with loss. I’m hoping that the high we had will carry us through this time with a bit of extra strength we didn’t have before.
There’s now no escaping that the countdown to his birthday is on. There’s just 1 week until his birthday, the day we got to say hello to our darling boy we didn’t get to keep. We can’t run from it anymore, and now need to commit to deciding what we do or don’t do on that day. We were supposed to talk about it while we were on our holiday but couldn’t get our heads around it. We don’t want to accept we’ve just lost a year of our lives to the darkness and fog of grief and loss. We don’t want to accept that we’ve lived a year without our baby we love so much.
I want to be back in time 12 months ago when everything was perfect and ok. I want to be back in hospital holding him. I want to be back in Bali placing flowers in the sea for him where I felt a moment of peace. I want to be back there seeing our two other children smile and laugh as they were in the sea and hearing Ashton giggle with delight saying “Elliott stop knocking me over!” as if they were playing with him. I want to be anywhere but here in the now where I suddenly feel like I’m losing him all over again, but this time as a 1 year old.