Who would’ve thought a dead tree on someone’s land would become the highlight of our morning and afternoon car trips into town, when taking the kids to and from school?
When Lucia was only a baby she received a book called ‘Stickman’. I still cannot recall who got her this book but the kids and I know it by heart. The first time we drove along this road Lucia yelled ‘Look there’s stickman’. And so this dead dark tree became the light in our day.
Grief is all about Light and Dark. Initially it all seems very dark and some days you consider if you will see the light again. Eventually in time, it may be days, weeks, months or years until you feel the light in your days.
I grieved all wrong (I should’ve grieved hard as soon as I could) but I did this to protect myself and to ensure Lucia’s survival. I just became numb. I pretended that it was a really bad dream and eventually I would finally get woken up and my beautiful healthy baby would be handed back to me. In reality I was in the first stage of grief known as denial.
My only focus was for Lucia to get as far away from that intensive care unit and into my arms at home where she would finally feel like she’s my baby and my life could go on.
In focussing only on Lucia I shut out the world. I cannot recall any event that occurred in the three months Lucia spent in hospital. The problems then began when she got home. I discovered a very dark part of grief who took hold of my body and turned me inside out. It’s name is anxiety.
Anxiety became a poor form of my existence. If any of the children were upstairs and I had to walk down the stairs with them I would have a panic attack. My brain would tell me that I will fall and my child will hit her head and die.
Power leads, blankets, cushions, the car, a storm, the rain, other people, anything and everything could cause my children to die.
During the anxiety I suffered severe insomnia. My mind would never shut down over the ‘what ifs’ over the twins early arrival resulting in Charlize’s death.
My anger then came in full force. It was loud and terrifying and even my own ears hurt from it. My heart ached with anger. My fists were clenched with anger. My jaw ached from teeth being grinded in anger. I was not a nice person to be around.
I realised this was not helpful. I continually spoke at length to Lucia’s doctor to basically give me a solid reason why this happened. Whatever reason she gave me was not enough or it would commence the anger at myself all over again for not protecting my babies.
When Lucia turned one and we had Charlize’s first anniversary I began to grieve hard. I cried often, I sobbed uncontrollably. I was utterly exhausted by the intense emotions happening in my body. I wanted it to stop.
After her birthday Lucia’s doctor gave me some information about Charlize’s death that we had previously not been aware of. This information was meant to help me accept her death. It did not.
My husband is an engineer. He looked at it logically and it made sense to him. I felt like it would never make sense for me.
We decided to go on a six week family holiday. To reconnect with eachother. This is where I began to see the light. This is where my eyes felt wide and alert to all of nature that surrounded me. It felt like I had never really seen any of her beauty before. I was able to calm down and enjoy my beautiful family and start to heal.
Grief over losing your child is like a long windy road with multiple bumps along the way. You need to drive carefully to keep your mind from wandering to the what ifs, to stay on the road when it’s so easy to drive over the edge when it’s so dark, to slow down and admire the surroundings when it’s easy to close your eyes.
Im not sure I’ll ever be able to say I completely accept what happened to her but I know the light she has shon upon me has made me a better person. She has taught me so many things about life that make me a better Mummy, a better wife, a better daughter, sister, friend.
I have amazing tolerance and strength I never knew existed because of her. I try not to dwell on the negative. There are so many people along the way who told us we were lucky we went home with one baby, that it’s meant to be, that it’s gods will. Those people have never lost a child and think what they’re saying is bringing comfort. It doesn’t. I don’t resent them for not understanding, I am thankful they don’t know this loss and hope they never will.
Because of our brave little girl, our angel in Heaven I have seen so many shades of light and dark that sometimes my own heart feels like a rainbow.
So, with a smile, nearly four years after the initial darkness, I quite happily drive past that dead tree called ‘Stickman’ who no longer looks like a dead tree but has a personality you couldn’t imagine created by my children to bring light to us every day.
Its the little things.
I encourage you all to look for the light that is etched deep into the dark to bring a smile to your own heart.