Beneath the Bandage of Eight Years

“Charles Willson Peale, Mrs. Peale Lamenting the Death of her Child

It is actually nine years next month. I wrote this last year but never published it, because I felt like there was so much more to say. Well, there always is, I guess. And it’s always changing… Words become outdated as soon as they’re spoken or written. I know now that I’m carrying/releasing pain for Evan but also for my father who died in my childhood… as well as other things. But this piece was hanging around in my drafts for too long. Let it be published, for what it’s worth.

‘Evan is still in your belly,’ says my 6yr old daughter, touching my stomach.

– ‘What?’

Evan was my first child, a boy who died at birth eight years ago.

I visit a medium.

She feels the pain I carry around my pelvis, my sacral chakra.

‘A loss from 8 years ago’, she says. I am floored.

Then she tells me, a grandmotherly figure stands in the light, holding a baby.

My face contorts into tears.

“He is ok, he is at peace.

But why are you still holding onto him?”

I didn’t even know it I was.

I thought I was at peace with him, fully healed as healed can be – but maybe it was too squared away. 

I see now, despite all those beautiful spiritual words I needed like bandages at the time, that some of it has since repressed the grief that needed to continue past the conception and birth of my 2 new children.

The bandages are suffocating the wound.

Get them off, and let me see the wound.

There it is. 

It is no longer gaping and bleeding, but now I can see it for what it is.

I’ve had enough of spiritual platitudes.

I am human. I feel pain. Let me feel the fucking raw pain.

Repression crept in through the corners of through valiant self-admiration and comparison to other women’s losses.

Yeah, I was brave to wait for him for 3 months, to have a homebirth, to treasure his body, and not bring further trauma to the mix.

But I am still left with the baseline pain of any grieving mother: the death of my child.

Whether I’ve got pretty art of him on the wall, matching heart wristbands, narcissistic blog names or whatever the fuck else.

I wrote stuff like “I don’t think of him as having died, he was a butterfly that danced through this life to the next”.

Pretty. Beautiful. But he wasn’t a fucking butterfly and until I’m dancing in that carefree spirit world myself, I am a fucking breathing shitting weeping human that is fucking gutted my son died.

I turn on a song I have been avoiding for 8 years.

It is a song by Coldplay (‘Fix You’) which dissolves me into tears for Evan – but I’ve always said, “it makes me cry only because it takes me back to how I felt at the time.”

What that really meant is, it’s a portal into my pain that I have been avoiding.

What would be the use, I always thought? Cry and feel awful again for what? I need to be positive, I need to be here for my 2 other children.

But what if I cannot be truly ‘here’ for them if I still carry repressed pain?

Alone in my car, parked in the countryside, I turn on the song, loud. 

Looking at a picture of Evan on my phone.

I have never dared to do that. Never!

I am instantly transported back to the pain. 

My body reacts instantly. I embrace it.

Wow, the song is a portal into my pain.

The croning organ of the song is like a needle point straight into where my brain holds it.

Looking at my son’s downy blonde hair on the picture on my phone, resting against the pillow, I weep.

My son died. 

He is dead. 

He is dead?

He is dead!

I say the words like they’re new to me.

Dead. Dead. DEAD!

I cry from the bottom of my heart.

I cry like I haven’t cried since I buried him 8 years ago.

Gradually my eyes dry up. I talk to myself for a bit.

Then I play the song again.

My pain comes again. I scream long loud and hard, I weep like a child.

It is shit, it it so fucking shit. 

My baby died. I lost my son. 

Let me feel the pure shit, shit shitness of it all.

The pain feels bad and wonderful all at once.

I used to think sad songs were just a pest to run from.

But now, what a gift, for a certain song to transport you back to a particular pain.

When Evan died, I couldn’t share the pain with my mum.

Our first baby was supposed to be the first new life in many years, and I brought more death! I was angry! I couldn’t bear it! It was too unfair! I didn’t want to cry to my mum, it would break my heart to induce tears in her, more tears in me, two crumbling women in an already emotionally crumbled family! Instead my midwife was my ‘surrogate mum’ and over the next 8 years I would write a short ‘thanks <3’ to my mum lighting her yearly Evan candle.

Now 8yrs later, finally I call her, to weep.

Weep long, loud, hard, hysterical, shaking, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I couldn’t cry with you at the time! Now I need to, oh I need to! 

Instantly, in a second, she is weeping too. “Oh! Let it all out!”

At the time, I didn’t want to hear ‘it’s so awful’ from her. It was fucking awful enough. I needed a ‘lioness midwife’ and a blog of spiritual platitudes like bandages over a gaping, red raw fucking hole that threatened to kill me.

But now, I need to hear ‘It’s so awful’. Yes, it is, yes, it fucking is.

It opens up a new facet to the pain long pushed away, repressed. 

My mother and I weeping for my first baby, a boy, our boy, her grandson, dead. Yes it’s shit. Yes, I might never have another boy, or even if I do; let me be gutted, just gutted that Evan our boy is dead.

Let me cry with my own mother!

Why the fuck has it taken 8 years?

Let me feel the pain! Let me feel how awful and fucking painful it is! Let me feel and just cry, cry, cry like a fucking madwoman, a mad fucking feeling human.

When I get home, something remarkable happens.

My daughter, who’s been wearing the same outfit every day for a month… out of some mystery… appears in my office smiling wearing a new dress.

My eyes nearly fall out of my head.

She didn’t know I’d gone out to cry about Evan.

Could something in my unconscious, affect my child unconsciously?….!

That night doesn’t cure her clothing problem completely, there is more to it than that… but, I will never forget that synchronicity.

That in life we think we are ok from pain, when really the pain became Unconscious.

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