Our last walk together
this is long, but it’s heartfelt
it’s for Evan, but it’s for you all.
These Evanless days I get out of the shower and dry my vacant torso with that royal red towel I drenched with the life force that kept your heart beating till the 43rd week. On it I sat with you in my arms the first time I saw you in the flesh, yet your flesh was all that was left. For when I gave birth to you I also roared a soul out of this dimension into another, I called to you maybe at just the moment you left us, ‘there he is’ my newly-irreligious mother says when she watches her first grandson rewound and replayed – yes there he is – there you are, there you were, my beautiful sweet man that will never be.
The words may fall like dust on ears used to cliche: but you showed me what love is. I already knew love is not the lust of a quickening pulse for a beau that treats you like dirt, but love is not even just about being cosily content with the one that treats you right. Love is beyond, love is diehard, love is the confidence to brace the scariest things you could imagine all in the name of unconditional duty. Yes, I live for a rainbow; but for now, my mind is a little raft in the storm of you, a tornado of love for you; I love you dear Evan, I would write it again and again, I could fill a whole book, my love for you is so powerful, I could burst, I could rip things, tear things, climb things; there is a hole in me, but there is also a gift from this, my baby, wherever your energy has gone, please know I kiss you in spirit every minute of the day. I love you, be with me, I say to you: please be with me.
Your taps and rolls are a finished series, complete, your mission is done; what strange satisfaction is gives me to know your bodily shell is safe, snug, like a bug in a rug, where winds don’t blow and no shadows fall. Surrounded by the gifts we bequeathed to you, in the outfit I chose for you, you sweetly sleep just as you came, ‘I’ve got him’ were the touching words of the black-clothed man who last hoisted up that white satin-lined box. Baby I hurt, but something very odd has happened to me…. when I first learned you would not live, I knew my life was going to change, and I could never be the same again; that I had to adjust myself simply to bear such a dizzying weight…
…and then immediately, I found myself writing in my journal exactly the birth route I was later to take, that strength was the way, not fear… I was numb, so numb I ate but one crumb off a chipolata sandwich but I wrote it all down, as if I was controlled by another force, that force was instinct.
…as the days moved on, my brain stepped in shrieking, fear wrapped its fingers round my heart and I recoiled; but slowly, surely, buttressed with the words of wise women, I prised those fingers away to read what Instinct herself had written, and my love for you resurfaced – no, it did more than resurface – it rose like lake levels in a flood, swollen beyond recognisable height – I attested to feeling ‘strangely sadly strong’ as I shunned the hospital’s haste with a surreal spring in my step. Despite the knowledge of your fate, to keep your heart beating kept my heart skipping, down the road like a toddler; with my brain looking on uncertain, disapproving.
I looked to the future, and lived out in the moment, how I wanted us to look back on this. Weeks passed, with distractions, laughter, tears, talking; through it I just kept walking, standing as best I could on the cruel conveyor belt that carried me through regardless. Bedtime was a ship of bliss on which we hid together from lashing morning rains as the days grew shorter and darker, drawing us both toward a waterfall down which we’d topple separate ways, but we kept warm all along the way, all through our journey you only ever knew my warmth, my hands holding you like the oars against the cold current, held further snug upon the safe island of your father’s body we all slept soundly; a far cry from that first night when our sweating hearts pounded hard to make up for all the beats yours would never make. Through my sways, through your hiccups, through the entire Book of Brownies, you would judder to the turning of pages and clanking of cutlery as I kept nourishing you through the only lifeline that would keep alive the person we came to call Evan Gabriel.
There was one day I thought you were gone, and to feel you again gave me as much pleasure as I’d ever had with you; oh baby, despite how taboo it felt to be ‘that’ happy, as happy as the Jive Bunny I played in a rhythmic bump-tapping protest to sadness, how reassuring to know we were still together, we were in this together, just waiting for our time, in one long, 12-week birth!
I’d spent months, years dreaming of labour, bracing myself for surrendering; anticipating the drama of the natural phenomenon of a woman’s body expelling a new creation. And amidst a nightmare, that dream came true, that I could trust in that awesome pressure propelling your sweet head through the concertina of nature’s most unfathomable design with a miraculous absence of pain. I was robbed of joy but love is invincible, and so I did it for you dear Evan, whom else could protect you but I? To cushion your landing with my own bed, into the helping hands of the woman who fought for our peace, with your father by our side, will be my comfort to take with me to my own grave.
I want to tell every woman in the world: that her love is more powerful than anything, she can do the impossible if only she allows it. The woman is a warrior, how sad this world has convinced her otherwise, for it fears her heart and her peace and her love, weapons so powerful that we build swords and guns to deny it. She is love defined, to be revered and assisted by man, and until consciousness cures us all of our blindness we settle for the crude subversion we live in.
There is the loss of my dream baby, and the loss of you. The loss of my dream baby hurts like hell, but the loss of you I can deal with, because I know you came and got everything you needed from this life, and I can only honour you for that. I sense that I have lived before, because my weariness at the world’s inanity is too apparent; so I know that you have lived before, and that we were both to learn from this. You have further drawn my attention to my own finite flesh, I look upon my humanness like a garment. ‘Is there an afterlife?’ we ask, like a foetus idle of the world beyond its transient cocoon, we are pinpricks in a universe and spirits in a classroom. Suffering would otherwise be sheer sadism and make no sense. It is hard to say that bad things are good, but without being sent to rock bottom and if all things were easy, we would be slack muscles, never able to lift so much as a paperweight.
It doesn’t feel easy to evangelise things I can’t see; death’s frustrating silence falls on human ears like written words to an animal. So to mourn you is my human privilege. Yet something inside is grateful for the ticket you gave me for a superhuman rollercoaster I never thought I could ride. A ride driven by the heart, terrifyingly reassuring.
When the waves of my anger are at an ebb, would you believe, the word ‘perfect’ escapes my lips to describe all of this. Your life. You. Our journey onwards. I don’t regret a thing, and how we faced fear to live your life is how I want to live the rest of mine. Evan know this, whether my birth is the first of 3, 6 or no more births: you were worth it all.
With as much love as my aching skull can muster,
Your mother. X