Sunday, 13 May 2007

So quickly forgotten?

St Thomas' (the hospital where both Janel and Zoe were delivered) organises a memorial service twice a year, for parents who have lost children there, and we'd been invited to today's service. We'd not been very organised, as we'd only managed to find babysitters at the last minute, so had not RSVP'd and sent the name of our child ahead like they asked us to. So when we arrived, we weren't on the list!!

No problem, they said, we'll just add your child's name - what is it?

Janel Broster-Masureik we said...

It was only when we were filling in a card to be tied to a "tree of life" by the alter that we realised that we'd given the wrong name. As if we only had one daughter's name to give.

So we started the service in tears. And cried most of the way through it. The service itself was a hymn, a few prayers, some poems, a short address, silence to remember, lighting of candles, some more prayers and another song. Fairly bland, non-controversial, to allow those of all faiths and none to commemorate their loved ones. This one poem hit me the hardest:

Cold Saturday

I wrote, Your name in the damp sand
Using the toe of my boot
Then stood watching
The sea nudge it away

I shouted, Your name to the sky
While the wind knifed my body
But the vast beach deadened the sound.
Then - because you will never know
And I had to tell someone -
I yelled, To the whole great emptiness
That I loved you, loved you, Loved you -

If anyone saw a fat woman
In suede boots, eyes puffy from crying
Walking blindly by the sea
Shouting I love you at the screaming gulls
Thank you for ignoring me

Anne Lewis-Smith

I had a good (nay, great) friend in Cape Town that tried to commit suicide. Part of the therapy that followed involved shouting - and so we used to go down to the sea near Hout Bay, find a cove where we could be alone, and shout at the waves. In her case, this was a lot about releasing the anger, but there was a freedom in being able to shout your heart out, knowing that no-one else could hear. I feel that I would shout a great deal if I had the space to do so, the confidence that I would be ignored. A lot of the time my grief, when I have the space to express it, is wordless, and this makes it hard, when people ask how I'm doing, to know how to respond.

Tomorrow we meet the consultant for a review of the autopsy results. I really don't know whether I want there to be a reason or not - if no reason has been discovered, then it means that no one (neither the doctors nor ourselves) is to blame for Zoe's death, no one could have done something different to prevent it; but at the same time, we will always wonder "Why?", and when we fall pregnant again, we will worry the whole time. If there is a reason, then the opposite is true, we will have a name to put on this and will be fore-warned for the next time, but the question of whether we or the medical team could have done something that would have saved her will linger. All in all, not a happy place to be. We did have the option of not having an autopsy at all, but I think that would have been even worse than either of the two options above - just an emptiness, a vacuum.

Also tomorrow, my next session of counselling - after last week where I took a side road down other personal issues, we return to Zoe, so I'm not expecting to enjoy it, but it is the only real outlet I have at the moment, so I need to take advantage of it while we're still in London.

Time for Nellie to have her bedtime story...

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