Four years on from losing Xander – from his death and birth (always, forever, the wrong way round) - my grief is manageable in a way that both pleases and angers me. Day to day, the grief lies under the surface of my heart - barely noticeable, ultimately manageable. It’s like a vague, dull ache – an awareness that something isn’t quite right in the world, something isn’t as it should be. It is simply there, a fact that I accept and doesn’t hugely hinder my life. I think of my first son every single day in some way. It isn’t always heart-wrenching, it doesn’t always make me cry.
But there are times – less frequent than they were, but still there – when the grief overwhelms me. Sometimes it hits me by surprise – something reminds me of him, and the pain is so sudden it takes my breath away. Other times I do it intentionally. I take the pain of my loss, the utter hopelessness of it all, and focus on it. I know some people would wonder why I would do that to myself. Well, simply because I need to. Sometimes, in amongst this incredibly busy, rushed life of mine, I need to take the time out to focus on him. On the desolation I feel at his death, the anger I feel at the lack of care we received, and - most of all - the love I feel for him.
My second son, Barney, gets most of my time. My love, my affection, my attention. And, hopefully, my third son will share in that when he arrives. But Xander? My first, beloved boy, who would have been going off to school in a matter of weeks? He gets so little of me. He gets a few snatched moments where I can focus on him. He gets our ‘week of new things’ which we do in the lead up to his birthday. He gets a tattoo on my arm. He gets a plaque at the cemetery that we visit once a year on his birthday. It’s not much when you think about it. A mother likes to treat all her children equally, and in reality I can’t really do that. So I feel like I can’t give much to him.
But as for what he gave to me – it’s huge. My children have been the best gift I could ever ask for. Xander taught me so much. He gave me a sense of renewed hope when I needed it most. He made me treasure the people I have in my life. He showed me what I am here for and gave me a purpose. I don’t think I can ever really repay him for what he gave me. But if taking time to think about him, to value him, and to give thanks for his little life is all I can do…well maybe, in time, I can learn to make that enough. I really hope so.
Happy birthday my beautiful boy xxx