The Grief of Surviving

the grief of surviving

What was that...? 

I was lying in bed last night, sandwiched between my two sleeping beauties, when it suddenly gripped me. As the clock-hand brushed past this time last year, I momentarily relived it all again. Except this time I was living out the 'if he hadn't made it' scenario, one we escaped by so sickeningly narrow a margin that it still makes me churn and shudder.

Why, on my son's 'rebirthday', do I find myself grieving?

It's like we were pushed so far over the edge that I can't unsee what I saw in that chasm. 

It reminds me of that scene in Interstellar where parallel realities meet, and Matthew McConaughey is screaming through the bookshelves at himself in the past, warning him not to leave on his space journey.

Except the other me is screaming, it could all have been so horrendously different. 

But I know that. That awareness has been a source of profound gratitude for us this last year. It's helped us hold the present moment more tightly and each other more dearly. It's been our very own life-altering miracle, one that humbles and amazes us every single day.

It also effing freaks me out. 

Often it's the sweetest moments that jolt me back. Back to that hospital corridor; that phone call; that baby in the opposite bed who didn't make it. But it's never been as visceral as it was last night. 

Not since Oct 10th, 2015. The day Bailey's heart-stopped for 30 minutes. The day my brother got married. The day the angel of death sat and held our hands for a while. The day even the faithless prayed. The most awful and awesome day of my life. 

I'm not sure what changed the angel's mind. Was it the nuns' blessings in Florence or the temple offering in India? Was it the fact that doctors and angels and friends and strangers from all corners of the planet joined hearts and willed our little bean back to us? 

Facebook post on 10/10/15: "Middle-of-the-night feedings and pumping were never my favourite activity, but the last few days I've been pumping for your life little one, and all I want is to wake up to you again and again. This is mummy's way, however symbolic for now, of sending you life-force and energy. We are so proud of you for making it this far, stay strong little Bailey bean, the world is rooting for you. X"

Facebook post on 10/10/15: "Middle-of-the-night feedings and pumping were never my favourite activity, but the last few days I've been pumping for your life little one, and all I want is to wake up to you again and again. This is mummy's way, however symbolic for now, of sending you life-force and energy. We are so proud of you for making it this far, stay strong little Bailey bean, the world is rooting for you. X"

I still have that crumpled piece of paper that we took to the hospital every day to read to Bailey while he was in ICU. I'd scribbled on it the poem by Robert Frost, 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'. That last stanza has become our little family's heart song:

 "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep..."

Facebook post on 20/10/15: "Bailey's out of ICU! We finally got to hold him!!!!" 

Facebook post on 20/10/15: "Bailey's out of ICU! We finally got to hold him!!!!" 

Time is both linear and cyclical. As I brushed shoulders with the other me last night and our respective realities overlapped for a moment, I hope a bit of my joy rubbed off on her, just as a bit of her pain rubbed off on me.