How can it be? A question I ask myself, over and over and over again. How can it be that we have survived 11 months without our beautiful boy? How can it be that we didn’t get to bring him home in the October like we expected to? How can it be that my body failed us, failed him? How can it be that we are parents, we have a son but he can’t be seen?
Just how can it be?
As has been tradition for the past 11 months though, I write Dexter a letter – to update him, to acknowledge his month-versary, to keep his memory alive – just because. There doesn’t really need to be a reason does there? For grieving parents, finding a way to parent your child becomes everything – you cling to any way that allows you to feel like you are being a mummy or daddy.
So on May 15th 2018 – eleven months since the day you were born – one month away from your 1st birthday – here is one of your final letters of this year we’ve lived without you baby boy. Don’t worry, I’ll still write to you, I endeavour to on every birthday and many times in between but I vowed from the first month that I wrote to you that it would be monthly for your first year and then who knows after that. I guess as your dad and I settle into our ‘new normal’ and passing our year of ‘firsts’ there may be times now I want to update you at different times or just feel the urge to write to you. I feel closer to you as each day passes, I feel you walking alongside me, you are so near – and yet you really are so very far.
How can it be? How can it be the eleventh month? It feels like only yesterday that you came into the world. 3.58pm. Thursday June 15th 2017. Silent. I remember your nan being the first person to see you, she remarked on how beautiful you were – perfect in fact. What a memory to hold in my heart – knowing your dad and I created something so perfect. But not too perfect for this world. Just right. My heart aches as I recall that day. The contractions, your Auntie shouting crossword clues at me as I rode them out, your nan offering me comforting words, the music that was playing in the background, your dad holding my hand so tight, preparing for you to enter the world, yet knowing we wouldn’t be able to take you home. How can this be? A question I will always ask.
But the acceptance is real. I know you’re not here darling, I know you’re somewhere – just not here. I don’t know where you are and let’s not entertain the ‘realness’ of where you are, let’s imagine. Let’s play the game your dad and I used to play in the early days of our relationship before we lived together; we’d end a phone call before bedtime saying ‘Let’s meet at…..in our dreams’. It was often DisneyWorld – outside Cinderella’s castle, or far off places that we dreamt of visiting, magical places, places of beauty – anywhere really but where we were together. So let’s do that. Let’s forever meet in our dreams.
I wish with every fibre of my being that this wasn’t the reality of our life but your dad often says that even if we had known the outcome of what was going to happen, we’d have still gone through with it. Why? Because we got you. Our first son, our beautiful boy, the one who will forever be the one who made us parents. What a true honour. Being your mummy is the best title I hold and knowing that I will always be ‘Dexter’s mummy’ is a real privilege. Your dad and I continue to hope that one day we will be lucky enough to be mummy and daddy to your siblings – could you imagine? More people that get to be part of your family, know about you and say your name. We had your memorial bench installed a couple of weeks ago and it is one of our favourite places. It is my forever place. I feel content. I feel at peace. I feel you. You have had so many visitors already and have so many more to come. We have laughed, we have talked about you, we have watched families play, we have sat peacefully, we have loved every second spent there. We did worry we would find it upsetting watching so many families happily playing, children laughing but actually – that gives us hope. Hope that one day that will be us. Hope that one day we can bring your family and we can make memories with you – something I thought we’d never be able to do. But we have found a way. I thought I would be upset each time we left your bench but actually it’s been a real comfort to think that people will sit on your bench, people will say your name, people will wonder about you. I wonder what they’ll think?
As well as your bench being installed, in just a few short weeks we will be holding a fundraising day – Dexter Bear’s Family Fun Day. A day that we are hoping will be an annual event. We have decided we’d like to raise money for the neo-natal unit at Leeds General Infirmary – the hospital where you were born. Had you have come into this world at 24 weeks but alive then you’d have been looked after by them. Would you have come home? Something we’ll never know but I know you would have been so well looked after so your dad and I want to give something back, in honour of you Dexter Bear. If we can help just one family bring their baby home then what a legacy for you.
We have been so busy organising things for the day; an amazing raffle, a football tournament, an inflatable assault course and so much more. Your dad created this poster and your logo and we are just about there. I really hope this goes somewhere in celebrating you – your first year, your legacy, just you. So Dexter Bear, as the song in our favourite film goes:
All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough
Never be enough
I could write all the letters in the world. I could say your name to every person here on earth. I could cry a million tears. I could hope, I could pray, I could turn back time – but it’ll never be enough. So for now, I will have to just make do with what I do have. I have your memory, I have you in my heart, have you walking by my side, I have you.
Dexter Bear, I will love you in ways no one will ever understand; you are part of me, you grew inside me, you moved inside me, you kicked inside me and you were just too damn excited to meet everyone that loves you so fiercely. I am so sad that you haven’t been able to feel that love here with us for yourself but I hope, wherever you are, that you know how loved you are; more than all the stars, more than the sunniest of days, more than you will ever know.
Thank you for choosing me to be your mummy – I will forever be eternally grateful.
All my love, today, tomorrow and always,