whatiwastryingtosaywas

There's something wrong in the state of Denmark… and I think I may be it.

Month: October, 2013

The day before you died…

The last time I was off work on a Thursday… I went into work, decided I didn’t want to be there and left. To go shopping.

Today, I am home. Booked off with bronchitis (which is Latin for “No, your colleagues do not need to hear or see the unnatural phenom’s you keep coughing up and blowing out so stay home til that shit stops”) and for some reason I remembered the day before Hudson died upon waking this morning. It too was a Thursday.

I’d been back at work for around a week and a half and the Wednesday before we’d had a tough team meeting. Some of you will remember one of my last pre-death posts where I moaned about how life had changed at work. My team has dissintegrated, I was surrounded by new and at the time very threatening faces and during this meeting it was indicated by one team member (and, very glaringly not argued by the others) that things had become hugely better since I’d left the team to go on maternity leave.

I felt alone, I felt as though noone was willing to stand up for me and I didn’t want to be there anymore. I’d gone home and cried. Holding my baby, who had less than two days left on earth, I’d cried about work. And the next day, instead of leaving the office, going home and holding my child I went to the shops. Nick had bought me a nomination bracelet with the word “Turk” embedded in it and I’d gone out to buy the “ish” which would finalise Hudson’s middle name. None of my work clothes fit me so I’d bought a pair of pants. And when I got home, I left Hudson in the hands of his nanny only telling her to leave a few hours later.

The next day my son was gone.

Perspective.

Nothing today matters. Nothing like that makes me cry. Even when it seems something else is making me cry, it’s always Hudson. I am easily overwhelmed and, instead of saying what it is, I’ll blame other things but it’s always this grief.

I saw a doctor the day before yesterday for this bronchitis thing. She reckons I have post traumatic stress disorder. She says this is probably what’s causing the chest pains, the back pains, the lack of ability to retain things, the pins and needles and the light headedness and let’s not even begin talking about the new and consistent fear of death. She’s asked me to start taking long term anti-depressants and she’s given me the number of a psychologist she thinks can help me. She says grief is a process and I’m stuck somewhere near depression and anger. She says speaking to someone will nudge me along.

I don’t want to take long term anti-depressants. I believe in science but to depend on something to get through your day seems like a cop out. And I’m not sure I’m ready to be nudged along. Will I stop mourning my son? Will I laugh out loud and not feel guilty about it? Will I become disloyal?

Is not being miserable what is right? And, in the same breath, is being miserable even the right way to honour him?

My blog has started worrying some people. Other people get me and they know where I am and what I’m saying but this, my therapy, has become a bit much for some people to bear. I’m not sure I care about some people. But I do care about doing right by the memory of my son.

I don’t think he came here only to go leaving a shell of a person behind. I don’t think his was a destructive soul nor journey. And I’m not sure I can be the legacy he deserves without the help that’s been suggested.

To the people who are concerned. I’m sorry. When I write here it is to express feelings I cannot express verbally. I’m a writer. I’m not a speaker nor a martyr and do not want to flounce my grief in front of you – even though at times I cannot avoid it. I’ve realised I’m the type of person who would rather publicly address your issues than speak about mine and I’m okay with that. Now it’s time – you’ve got to become okay with that too.

And to everyone else, if this post doesn’t remind you of how short life is and how the most important people in life can disappear without warning, I’m sorry for you. Remember, every last second, could be the last second. Make what you do with your time count for something. Cuddle your babies. Hug your loved ones.

It’s what I should’ve done that Thursday afternoon, all afternoon. And it’s all I’ll ever want to be able to do every day of my life until I, too, become a sad story someone tells in a blog of their very own.

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I’m not sure I can do this anymore…

Hudson has been gone now longer than he was here and I’m not sure I’ve given his death the respect it deserved. I wake up now, as I have done every morning, facing his cot and crying is no longer the first thing I do. Sure, once I’ve made my coffee and I’m sitting outside feeling the sun on my skin, the tears come but instead of actively grieving, I find I have become more robotic than anything else.

Unless I’m drinking, I rarely laugh with honest amusement – I used to laugh deeply and authentically at a lot of things. So every Saturday, if I can make it so, I drink. I’m not allowing myself to drink during the week because I know I’ll sink into a hole so deep that I won’t ever crawl out of it again.

Sometimes I catch myself smiling or laughing in my reflection in a window and I feel like a Stephen King character – with a scary, metallic smile glued to my face. One that doesn’t reach my eyes. Grief kills your spirit. As much as I want to, and I know my son would want me to, be a little more like who I was before, it just doesn’t feel like an achievable goal.

But I’ve gone off on a tangent.

When Hudson died, instead of allowing numerous people to kill flowers in an effort to show their sympathy, I asked that donations be made in my son’s honour. We were going to buy books for moms in hospital or toys to entertain kids undergoing surgery. What has happened has put me into a situation that terrifies me every day. The Hudson Initiative has grown into such a big thing and, while it will reap much positivity for so many children in the long run, it has meant I cannot ever escape this grief. I have had to repeat his story so often… I don’t think other grieving parents have to do this. I’ve had to go back and remember his birth, the surgery, the infection… all the hospital stays, the fear and panic in his eyes. I’ve also had to remember the gummy smiles and the giggles and the squeals, so there’s that but neither memory brings a smile to my face yet. I’m still in the phase where memories of him bring the tears. The reminder that I’ll never hear those squeals again.

I don’t know how this all started. I don’t know how it grew into this thing that everyone’s talking about and media are publishing stories about and people can’t believe we’ve made a reality. But I do know, as much as I want to some days, I can’t escape it. There are babies whose lives are going to change because of it.

But where does that leave me? Am I giving my son due diligence? I speak to other parents and they couldn’t get out of bed for months – I was back at work after two weeks. They are only now placing photos of their dead children up on their work tables – I wasn’t able to take mine down and have been posting photos to his Facebook page without hesitation. It took them years to even think of having more children and I already know I want a brother or sister for Hudson.

I’m no rebel and I’m no nerd. But I work well with rules. What are the rules as far as grieving is concerned? What are the guidelines? Where can I go to speak frankly about what a fuck up this all is and how thoroughly and deeply angry I am deep down inside when all I am allowed to be on the surface is positive.

I’ve messed things up for me. But, like with Hudson’s death, there’s no escaping it now.

I realise how selfish I sound. I’m not looking for a clap on the back, so please don’t give me one. All I want now is relief. A breath.

And then a mail arrives, as it just this very second did, that reminds me why maybe relief is not what I should be chasing. Maybe I should be trying to be a hero… just like Hudson was.

This mail is from a friend of mine, Nicole. Her son Julian is giving a speech at school and this is how it’ll read…

Braveheart by Julian de Wet

A hero saves the day; they have that special ability to make a difference.  Heroes are admired for their courage, their outstanding achievements. 

Every 2.5 minutes heroes are being born.  Everyday broken hearts are being born.

One in one hundred babies are being born with one or more congenital heart defects.  These babies are known as heart warriors or brave hearts.  I am proud to say that I know one of these warriors.

Hudson Turkish Slater Smith was a bundle of baby perfection when he was born.   He was ten fingers and ten toes perfect.

No one was prepared for the news his doctor delivered just two days after his birth. 

Hudson had an extremely rare heart defect.  Instead of having two arteries, he had only one artery and the blood was mixing.  He was heading towards heart failure fast!

Six weeks later a team of surgeons successfully fixed Hudson’s broken heart. 

Throughout his journey Hudson never complained.  As countless needles were poked into his tiny body, as he lay strapped with tubes and machines attached to him, he never complained – he didn’t know to complain. Instead Hudson was a ray of sunshine, shining hope down on all who knew him. 

Tragically as countless heroes before him, Hudson got his angel wings at four months old.

In honor of Hudson his parents are changing lives.  They have set up a fund to educate and help other families.  They are working towards making it law that every baby is tested for heart defects before they leave hospital. 

Heroes are brave.  Heroes save lives.  Heroes make a difference.  Hudson is changing the world one tiny heart at a time.”