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

Tag: friends

Don’t worry, I bore me too…

I haven’t blogged in some time. I worry that I only blog when I’m at my lowest but, to be honest, it’s the only time I really need to share. I also worry that sharing when I’m up might seem disloyal. When I think on this sensibly, the intelligent side of my brain says: who the fuck cares? Say what you like.

I like this side of my brain… it swears too much but it’s got my best interests at heart.

A few weeks ago, I posted to my son’s Initiative’s facebook page and said, basically, that I had decided to start sloughing off the peeling, cracked flakes of guilt that clung to me; that I had decided to start trying to live outside of grief again. I think it only fair to try and be true to his memory and what’s not true to his memory is living in a dark, gloomy place with no hope for the joy of life and no hope for the tomorrow that keeps coming no matter how hard I prayed that it wouldn’t.

But keep coming it does. And keep going we do.

It’s Spring in South Africa and very differently to last year, I can feel the warmth again. I opened all the windows in our home today and felt the difference in the texture of the air. Even in Hudson’s room, the air changed. I know this sounds silly but Spring is my favourite season for all the yawny old reasons and I don’t remember it from last year. I don’t remember the last time I felt naturally warmed; organically revived.

I danced in public whilst sober the other day – a song came on, it moved me and I didn’t fight it. This is big for me. Hudson and I spent most of our time together listening to music and when my favourite songs play there aren’t many I don’t associate with him and it’s been impossible to associate the joy I felt both before and with Hudson to them anymore. When I remember him staring quizzically at the Thompson Twins as they spun right round baby right round as if to say: “what are these people on, woman” I still cry – he was so judgey and spot on even at four months, just like his mum. 

But, I’m starting to hear the music again and not all of those memories make me cry.

Last year, this time, if you’d said I’d feel better I’d have nodded, said thanks while silently telling you to go away or writing you off in a more sweary way because you a) didn’t get that I didn’t want to be better, I just wanted my son back and b) didn’t understand that simple phrases weren’t good enough or c) or d) or e)…

But better is what you feel – it’s a survivor thing. Not great. Probably not hopeful just yet. But better. And better is all a grieving parent needs. Hope is all a grieving parent needs.

So I guess to end this properly I need to say it again, as boring or repetitive as I might seem, whatever your grieving friend has said or done in the depths of his or her grief… don’t give up on them. They’ll come back one day and they’ll need you again and if you can be strong enough to jump into their new normal, it’ll all be a little more “better” because of you.


So… tomorrow it’s been a year

What does that even mean?

It’s been 365 days since I was able to hold my baby? What the fuck do I do with that? It’s a mind fuck, no two ways about it. This week has been hard. This month has been impossible. Having to sit at my table, looking with bewilderment at people who have no frikken concept about what’s important in life, or what’s hard about it either. My baby is dead and sadly it’s easy to get martyrish about it. It’s hateful of me but I judge people heavily right now. Really? Your dog died and you’ve equated this with the end of the world? Judgement. Oh, what’s that? He’s teething and you didn’t sleep well? Poor dear. Then again, that also means he’s alive! Fucksakes…

What would they do with this? Would life change? Would they gain perspective? Would they become better people or worse? I’m not sure if this is a phase that will pass but it’s where I’m at.

I also don’t know what the answers are for them. I only know for me. And this is where it is…

Everything changes and then nothing changes at all. I haven’t come to terms with any of this yet. I know on an intelligent level that my son is gone. Those moments where I get a fright on my way to work thinking I’ve left him alone at home barely happen anymore. He’s gone, yes. But it’s not like an ex or a lost friend, where you forget them or stop thinking about them. He’s always there, in my brain, floating around, distracting me at times from the goings on of life. There but not there ever again at the same time.

The world moves on quickly. Too quickly for any parent who’s lost a child. Never slowly enough. But I’ve realised I can’t expect everyone to have the same priorities as I’ve got. We’re memorialising Hudson tomorrow at his tree – the people I most wanted to be there; the people who had the honour of meeting him, who have actual memories to share, some of them aren’t going to be there. It hurts, of course it hurts – you take the lessons you want to take from the choices people make. But I’ve made peace with the fact that facing this day without them is life.

People don’t get it. It’s martyrdom again but they don’t. Only other grieving parents understand. A friend of mine at work lost her dad a few years back – they were close beyond understanding – and even she admits that she could not fathom the loss involved with the death of a child and would never compare the two. Parents. Cats. Dogs. Grandparents. Your grief is your grief – and you’re entitled to it – but until you’ve lost a child you won’t get my grief and no two griefs should ever be compared. Because this is complete and total loss. Loss of your flesh and blood. Something you created from the most minute cell. Someone that grew inside of you, was part of you, owns a piece of your soul for all eternity is no longer breathing, is no longer even a cold, lifeless body, is just gone. That’s loss that I still cannot understand truly myself and I’m living deep inside of it.

I still cannot bring myself to watch his videos. I don’t know why. Grief is not supposed to make sense I suppose.

I’m harder and softer than I was before. I’m harder on people; less forgiving, less caring, less empathetic. And I’m softer on things. We have bees in our offices. They’re dying all over the place and people are killing them too. Every time I see one dying slowly, I take it outside, lay it on some greenery and, yes, say a prayer that it goes safely wherever it’s going from here. Today, someone slammed a book down on one and there was little time for prayer and therein lies the hardness on people.

Not as much is important anymore. Before, work was important, my career was important. I was ambitious. Now… I’m just lonely. I want a family and my family has been ripped to pieces with the loss of our baba. I can tell who has children (most of the time) cos it’s the people who have perspective in all things. They know what important is. They know home time is home time and I won’t be asked to join conference calls at six pm by these people. I love these people. I want to be these people. That is what is important to me now. And I have none of it.

My arms are empty. My heart is beaten. My life is without a real purpose. And yet, I get up. Everyday I get up. I don’t know why.

The one thing I would ask everyone in my life today – friends, not so friends, others, family – don’t ask me to be over this. Don’t expect it. Don’t ever say the words “well, we all have to move on sometime”. You’re somewhere different to me. You’ve said goodbye or made peace or found your way out. I may be getting up every day but don’t ask me to ever do that. I will never forget my son. He will always be more important than everything and everyone – even in death. I will always remember him – silently and aloud and you can be a part of the new who-I-am or you can not.

Believe me, I know loss and you choosing to leave me because I’m boring right now won’t count as it.

Most important lesson this year… don’t take your children for granted. Make them important. Make them the only thing. Because you can lose everything else and stay the same with strength of character or fortitude – but you are never the same after losing your child.

Of platitudes and other people’s babies…

I realised something this weekend. I don’t have a problem with kids in general. Nick has issues. Seeing other people’s kids hurts him. Me? Not so much. Much as before Hudson, most kids are nameless, faceless little rugrats. Glazed donuts who rarely consult me and who are rarely consulted in return.

That is, until said babies belong to the ladies I was pregnant with.

It’s happened a few times. We’ve been invited to birthday parties or get togethers and haven’t even thought to ask who’d be there. I’ll be put slap bang in front of one or all of the moms I was pregnant with, or rather their babies, and I’ll be reminded, quite starkly, as to where Hudson would have been had he not died. Then, for two days after, I just cannot hold it together. The next day, history has proven, I will crash and the day that follows will be touch and go.

At first, I did not put two and two together – grief doesn’t make for smart – but I realised it this weekend. And while I hold no grudges towards these moms or their adorable kids, I will no longer be attending these get togethers – especially on days where I’m just not strong enough to handle it. I’m going to become one of those rude people who ask “Who’s going to be there?” when they’re invited and declines if something that results in sore is going to happen.

How sucky is that?

How little do I care?

And now… on to the platitudes section of today’s blog.

I should warn everyone that I’m pretty angry. I’m going through a pissed off phase. I’m pissed off with people who talk without thinking. I’m pissed off with people who use their trauma to get out of doing stuff and living life. I’m pissed off with people who have no individual thought and suddenly remember to send messages of their own when I send message to Hudson. I’m pissed off with two of what used to be my best friends who fucking disappeared almost six months ago (and no, a Facebook mail that says nothing and acknowledges no-one sent months later is not enough – believe me, the only reason you haven’t been defriended is because I lack the courage to click the button on a friendship I used to hold very dear – I’ll get over this soon enough, fear not).

I’m pissed off with non-family from far away judging me and the way I raised and lived with my son who are now trying to be a part of my grief process even after I’ve defriended and ended all communications with all of them. Oh, and stop using my son’s Facebook page to try and talk to me. It’s not cool and it’s not going to happen.

I’m pissed off that I’m pissed off. I’m sick of biting my mother’s head off when she’s just being a human being. I’m sick of pasting a smile on my face with everyone else to negate the possibility of making them uncomfortable. I’m pissed that I’m here – that it’s been the best and worst year of my life and I can neither celebrate nor commiserate without being disloyal to my son. I’m pissed off that I know nothing about anything anymore.

But most of all I’m pissed off with the platitudes.

I’m not sure I heard them in the beginning. I now realise the words have been said to me so often that I’ve almost lost the opportunity to react. But here, my solace, my private thoughts, my therapy, those that I share with the world, here I can say what I should’ve said back then.

Everything happens for a reason – the next person to say this to me is going to get asked what the reason was that Hudson came into my life and was taken away. It’s going to be uncomfortable and I don’t care because I want to know what reason resides in your brain for this having happened. Just one. I’m going to ask for just one. So prepare yourself.

God wanted his angel back – fuck god. I want my child back. He was my god. He was my king. He was my universe. I wanted him here more than any god could ever want him wherever he is now and fuck whoever it was that decided he had to leave.

God only gives to those what they can handle – ditto and bullshit. This is the most unbearable thing I can ever imagine happening to anyone. I’m getting through it because I have no other choice and that is the only reason. I have no other choice. Yes, it’s happening to me but I’m not alone. Daily, I learn about people who are losing their kids or whose babies are being born sick or with broken little hearts. There is no god that would want any human to want to be able to “handle” this.

Anything to do with karma – I will do my nut. I was a good person. I sought homes for homeless animals, I donated to charities, I was kind to strangers, I gave money to the homeless and I did my very best to love people in a very unloveable country. And my child still died. Karma can fuck right off.

Note: Whenever I write a blog like this I spend hours or days agonising over who I may have offended, over who may take my writing personally so…

To the people who’ve acknowledge that this blows to unbelievable proportions, who acknowledge that my son was awesome, that my son existed and died and acknowledge that the pain I feel is real and will be prolonged and that to them I’m okay no matter what I’m feeling. To the people who don’t give me shit when I don’t want to do stuff or when I’m feeling like crap; and to the friends and family who have not left my side through this whole ordeal – I cannot put into words how important you are to me.

I cannot verbalise how different things could have been had you not been there; your shoulders, the ones I may not physically lean on but I lean on nonetheless, the meaningful words that you actually thought about before putting down, the mere fact that you’re okay to sit in silence when I can’t talk or need to be quiet for a while.

And to my mom, who calls when I need her most and offers platitudes of her own only because she knows her versions make sense to me, who shares her dreams and messages she says are from my boy.

All of this means the world. And I thank you.

PS: I’m less pissed off now. In case you were ever wondering why I write this blog.

A letter from my stok…

One of my closest friends sent this letter to me a few weeks ago… to put things into context, we call each other “meis” and “stok” and she was one of only two people to call Hudson Turk. I have felt, since receiving it, that it is something to be shared. A girlfriend’s perspective on how this whole thing panned out.

Thank you for your letter, stok. I hope readers of this blog do it justice :-).

“Mr dearest Andrea and Nick,

I have made several fairly useless attempts to write a fitting eulogy to be delivered at your son’s funeral.  I have sat until the early hours of the morning desperately scrambling for the words to describe Turk’s heroic life and somehow give you, if only a tiny ounce of comfort.  I reach a certain point and I realize that I am not the girl for this job.  I realize that his life was too big for me to even begin to describe.  It needs to be perfect, perfectly written and perfectly delivered, I think of him, I see the pain in your eyes and I crumble.  So hence the 2nd best thing – a letter to the two of you, to read when the time is right. 

I was angry – I was so made when you told me that you were pregnant.  I was even madder when it was a complete no brainer decision to keep him.  I was mad becoz I knew MY life would have to change.  Who gave you the right to change my world, my peace of mind, my uninterrupted slumber?  Now I would be forced to worry about crap like whether this kid would have friends that would play with him.  The pregnancy went on and then the second whammy – you were having a boy.  For fucks sake – a girl was bad enough, but now a boy.  I don’t know how to be with little boys – they horrid.  You had a bumper bashing – I read the blog and I left the office and went home and wept.  The girl that I knew, that knew me inside out, the girl that shared almost every one of my view points, every dream of mine, ever secret longing for the life I wanted was echoed in her thoughts, was gone.  She had fallen in love with her unborn child.  She was a mother. 

Turk was born on a Monday.  I was nervous and scared.  I saw his photo on Nick’s bbm profile.  I cried again.  Not for the two of you, not for Turk, for me.  I cried for my empty, barren womb.  I cried for my own fears that prevented me from embarking on the journey that you two slid into so easily.  Tuesday morning I looked at baby Turk’s photo with the caption, “He is really quite lovely” and fell HOPELESSLY in love. 

So Saturday rolled around and I was coming to meet the little guy.  I bought a new outfit and went and dyed my hair.  Woke up on the Saturday and thought, well that’s fucking dumb the kid can’t see clearly yet, but he does have almost perfect olfactory senses.    I decided on a classic – I wore Dolce and Gabana – I wanted this to be his Aunty Penny association.  I wore it on my birthday and I wore it to his farewell.  I rambled the whole way to your house.  I was so nervous.  I knew that this kid was going to change my life.  I knew that there was no going back.  I knew that once I had held him I would want to protect him for the rest of my life.  I knew all of that, but had no idea how overwhelming that feeling would be.   I loved him instantly.  Equally important, I fell in love with my new best friend.  Day 5 – and you were an old hand at being a mom.  It was a role that you slipped into as easily as what I fell in love with Turk. 

To talk about the trials and tribulations, now almost seems trivial.  I am not eloquent enough to articulate the highs and lows I felt through Turks ops, through the hospital stays, through the screaming at God,  “For goodness sake, just give him a fucking break, has he not been through enough”. 

The day before he passed away.  Jono and I found him a little Man U kit.  Turk was largely responsible for making me love Jonathan more daily.  The excitement in Jonathan’s eyes when he found that outfit for Turk.  The love that was in his voice, when he phoned at least 4 of his mates (only one of which had met Turk), to tell them about the kit he found for his boy, broke my heart.  The absolute joy and pride was audible.

“Meis ….? “

Who knew that word, those dots and that question mark could cause the pain it did.  I knew.  I knew my boy was gone, I don’t know how, I can’t explain.  I knew, in the same way I knew before you told me that you were pregnant.  The room was fuzzy.  I sat on the floor and waited for Jonathan to get out of the shower.  I knew I had to tell him before I left and I didn’t know how I was going to.  He got out of the shower, he saw me on the floor.  I looked up and said, “Its Turk”.  We sat on the floor and cried.  He didn’t go to work.  His heart broke.

I went to work, too many people around me were crying for Turk.  They had lived, every movement of your pregnancy – every one of MY stupid fears regarding said pregnancy.  They had been to every doctor’s appointment.  They had seen every photo of his scar, every update of his progress, every celebration of being sent home – they were there. I went home got into bed and didn’t get out until the next morning.

I know that this letter is addressed to the two of you, so round about now, you must be wondering why is this all about me.  What I am trying to explain, in true Penny inarticulate fashion is that Turk was more than your son.  He was the tiniest of lil guys, but his strength, his conviction, his fight, his spirit, his pure determination changed lives.  I was admitted into hospital two weeks before Turk passed, I am petrified on needles.  When they came to put the I.V. up Jonathan, in his patient, ever supporting tone, reminded me that if Baby Turk can handle it, then so could I.  It helped, I cried less.  The next night, I got a new neighbour in the bed next to me.  The same male nurse who had put my I.V. up had come to put hers up – the nurse said, in a kind gentle voice (to a VERY Asian lady who could not understand a word of English), “If baby Turk can handle it, then so can you” J

Turk made us believe again.  He reminded all of us what a miracle this thing that we call life, and all take for granted, truly is.  He made us all love a little deeper.  He made children, love their parents a little more and appreciate it what they went through to have and raise them.  He made siblings look at each other and thank God for their mere existence.  He made partners fall in love all over again. 

Spiritualists believe that we are sent to this earth to right our wrongs.  Once that process is complete, we leave and move on to the next level.  Nelson Mandela / Mother Teresa – two of this world’s greatest humanitarians – they are / were still trying to achieve that well into their 90’s – how pure must Turk’s soul have been to rectify his wrongs within 4 months!

I am not sure how you move on from this.  I am not sure if you ever even come back from this.  What I am sure of though, is that Turk’s stay on earth was for a reason.  We may never understand why he had to go, but I do know that having him made everything worthwhile.”