And then…half a year had passed.
As I’m sat here stroking Clay’s footprint pendent on my necklace, staring out of the window on a dreary January afternoon, Clay should be 6 months old this week. It should be 6 months of memories, moments, a camera roll filled with photos. Instead I’m sat here in disbelief that we have made it to the 6 month mark, which seems like such a prominent milestone to me, probably as a result of social media telling us so more than anything else. The concept of age is odd when you are grieving the death of your child, whenever I think about my nan that died (for example) I will always say ‘oh she would have been X age this year’, but with Clay I find myself switching between the present and past tense often, sometimes saying ‘Clay is 5 months old now’ and sometimes stating, like in this blog, ‘Clay should be 6 months old now’, I don’t think it’s a case of not facing the reality, I think it’s more that every part of my being knows he should be here with us, he should be celebrating these milestones on earth with us, so in that sense he is 6 months old now in my head and the day dreams I have formulated of all the milestones he has missed so far, even though I know its an age he will never physically be present in. I’m not sure if that makes much sense, but it does to me in my head and I suppose that’s all that matters. Grief doesn’t make sense most of the time, especially when trying to explain the 101 thoughts that run through your head on a daily basis.
When I look back on the past 6 months the days seems agonisingly slow but the months seem fast. I can remember about a month after Clay had died, knowing that Clay’s post-mortem results, the HSIB (Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch) report, and being in the ‘safe zone’ to start trying to conceive again were all going to be within or around the 6 month mark felt like a lifetime away. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up when it was January, but then Dan said to me we would have nice memories within that 6 month period. Of course he was right, we have had some nice memories in the past 6 months, the hard days far outweigh the good days (or moments) but without the sprinkling of good days the bad days would probably be unbearable.
No amount of time will ever replace the Clay shaped void that is forever engrained in our hearts, if anything I’ve found the more time that passes the harder it is (in some ways), always scared that I will forget how he felt or what his first day face looked like. For me, because Clay isn’t here, all the things we ‘should’ be doing are personified in my thoughts. From knowing he ‘should’ be in his own room now (when we do get our take home baby I think I’ll want to keep them in our room for a full year!), to the fact he would be starting weaning soon and even just that he would be moving up another clothing size. Maybe if he was here I wouldn’t think about these things so much, or at least I wouldn’t think about them and cry, because we would just be getting on with life with a newborn instead of trying to adjust to a new normal and a world where he exists in every day even every minute of our lives except from actually being here with us.
There is so many things I miss about Clay, so many things that I wish we could do together as a family, so many thoughts I have about what he would be like that most of the time I cannot articulate it into a sentence, so I settle for ‘I just miss him so much’. I sometimes think, how can I ‘miss’ him? I only met him for such a short amount of time in comparison to how long I’ve lived, but to miss somebody in a literal sense is just to perceive with regret the absence or loss of that person in your life. There’s no equation that says you need to have known that person for X amount of time before you can qualify for missing them. When you start trying for a baby, as soon as you get that positive pregnancy test (if not before) you vision how your life will be. I know I miss him in his newborn state, because that’s how I’ve only ever physically seen him, but I also miss the first time he held his head up on his own, his first smile, his first giggle, the first time he sat up on his own, when he needed his mum because nobody else could settle him, his first roll, his first crawl, his first step, his first day of school, the first time he got his heart broken by a girl and he needed a cuddle from his mum, his first job, his wedding, the list goes on. I miss every single moment of his life, a life he will never get to live apart from in my thoughts.
Moving forward into the future is hard. One of my favourite quotes from the book ‘Ask Me His Name’ by Ellie Wright (Feathering the Empty Nest on Instagram) is actually one from her husband Nico that says;
“We won’t ever let this define us. He will be the reason we do, never the reason we don’t”
I find myself thinking back to this quote often, Clay’s death changed us as people and we will never be the same again. Nor would I want to be, a part of us will always be with him, I’m not sure if I will ever feel truly whole until I get to meet him again. Until then, we will make him proud, we will live our lives and be present, we will learn to enjoy the mundane and not just feel like it’s another day to ‘get through’, and one day I might feel the level of happiness again that I can only see in past pictures at the moment. We will move forward with our lives knowing everything we do, we have Clay in our hearts.