Many years ago I knew a wonderful old lady. She was our next door neighbour in Sydney and she had so many interesting stories to tell about her life, and the times she had lived through. If ever I went missing, my husband knew where to find me, as Mrs. Murchison and I would sit for hours, simply chatting.
During this time my dear old friend lost a son. I think he would have only have been in his sixties, and he passed away suddenly. Naturally, his mother felt devastated. She had already lost a daughter, and now a son.
Amid her grief, Mrs Murchison said to me one day, “This just isn’t right, it’s not the way it’s meant to be. Parents are not supposed to bury their children; it’s supposed to be the other way around”. As a young, recently married girl in my early twenties, her words had a profound effect on me. Up to that point in my life, I had never been touched by deep sadness or loss, and those words taught me so much. For the first time in my life, I caught a glimmer of the meaning of the word “grief”. My lovely neighbour lived to be one-hundred-and-two years of age.
I’ve remembered the sentiments of this kindly old lady many times since last Friday, when a roller-coaster ride of emotions began. Mary and I were to have lunch together, and go shopping for hers and Adam’s upcoming wedding in September. While I was in the shower, Mary sent me a text message, her mum was taking her for a quick check up with the midwife, and we would meet up shortly for lunch.
My mobile phone rang. Mary’s name came up on the screen, but it wasn’t Mary who I spoke to, it was her mum. Those words, “Mary has lost the baby”, along with the sound of Mary sobbing, are still ringing in my ears. I had to contact my son at work. My eldest son took him to the hospital. They both cried. My daughter and husband cried. And that was just the beginning; we have collectively cried a river of tears since Friday.
The labour, long and painful for Mary, emotionally traumatic for the rest of us, lasted all day Saturday. I stayed at the hospital all day, my son needed me. A tiny little baby boy came into the world at 9:03pm, perfect in every way, except he never took a breath.
Early tests have shown fluid around his brain. It seems to have been just “one of those things”, not able to be predicted or prevented. Samuel had just stopped living.
We were fortunate enough to spend some time with baby Samuel, but nothing could have prepared me for the well of emotion I felt in seeing him, for I had seen a face almost identical to his once before, when my son was born. I hugged my son and we cried together. Between my sobs I told him that I didn’t want to be one of those grandparents who only saw their own child in the newborn, that Mary was Samuel’s mother, and I apologised to Mary. Adam told me not to be upset, that Mary had already said the same thing, so I told Mary that she had had a glimpse of what her future children would look like, to which she jokingly replied, yes, Adam’s twins.
This just isn’t right though, not the way it’s meant to be. Like Mrs Murchison, my son, and his fiance, who I have grown to love so much during the last year, have to say goodbye to their own son, a goodbye that is happening much too soon. Seeing my son hurting is as painful as losing Samuel.
Yet today, life goes on, and I feel as if I am dragging my aching heart along with me, as I take care of the chores around home. Nothing has been done for three days. My eyes are welling with tears constantly, I am at home alone, and I’m finding it difficult to speak to anyone, other than my immediate family. Adam and Mary are staying with Mary’s mum for a few days, and trying to have a “normal” day themselves.
So in my state of mute grief, at home alone, washing machine spinning, dishwasher gurgling, what do I do to try and get through my emotions? I write. Typing words onto a computer screen, then sending them flying off into cyber-space is the only way I know how to deal with today. Kind messages are flooding through to us all, meaning the whole world to me as I read them through my tears, yet I don’t know what to say, other than an emotional and heartfelt “thank you”. Thank you for caring, thank you for your prayers, thank you for understanding.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and while I suspect I know why little Samuel came to us, I still don’t know why he only stayed with us for such a short period of time. I’ll be keeping my eyes and heart open. Maybe, one day, The Universe will let me know.