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

Tag: heart

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.”


It’s been two weeks…

It’s two weeks today since I last held my son.

I have no real learnings for you. I couldn’t write a book on anyone’s grief but my own. I can tell you it still feels surreal. I still wake up wondering why he’s so quiet. I still feel the universe was unforgivingly unfair on both Hudson and us. And I still miss holding him close to my chest. I can also tell you that we haven’t touched his things, except to smell them and rub them against our faces. We haven’t even discarded the milk we’d prepared so diligently the night before he died.

It’s hard. I can go all day feeling drier than the Sahara and then I feel the longing and the emptiness in our home or I look at one of his photos, remember the time I took it and the flood of tears comes.

The only thing that doesn’t go away, even momentarily, is the pain. It’s physical and real and on-going. Unending.

I won’t write much more today. It feels disloyal to his memory still. Everything feels disloyal to his memory. Eating without interruption. Watching a TV show in its entirety. Taking a walk outside without his baby monitor. The guilt is all consuming. We’re alive and he’s not.

However, I did promise a few mothers that I’d share my eulogy with them and it was the only thing I wanted to get right on the day we bid him a public farewell, so here it is.


“I sat alone this morning, the day before we sent your body away, and listened for you. I tried as hard as I could to see you. And in the quiet noise that is nature, I felt my own heart skip a beat as it has done several times a week since you were born… I drew in a sharp breath and remembered… That this is where you live now.

I’ve woken up before the sun every day since Friday. My intentions always become very clear to anyone paying attention. I would hate the sun. I would hate it with every ounce of my being because it refuses to mourn. Because every time the sun comes up it means another day I have to live without my son.

Every day I’ve begged whoever’s in charge to take me back, just to last week Wednesday or Thursday so I could stop it. But, most hatefully, it will not be.

Every day I’ve asked that I be taken instead and every day ends and I’m still here.

Every day I’ve blamed myself for letting my beautiful son die.

Every day I get up from the couch where I sleep, I go into the room where he woke us at 01h30 on Friday morning to make sure we were there for him when his little heart gave up and I weep as I realise anew that nothing we did changed anything.

Every day I rise and I am as cold to my bones as his soft skin was the last time I kissed his face and all I want to be is as cold as the Winter that has truly arrived since the day he died.

But, no matter how hard I try to hate everything in this world, it doesn’t last.

I realise the sun is actually Hudson. I realise that he will not allow me to hate for much longer. I know that he will turn my anger into calm. My grief into smiles as I remember him. I know this is a long journey and I won’t be the person he needs me to be today but I also know as the sun hits my shoulders that he will be there to comfort me  until I can be the person he knows me to be.

He mourned with me on Saturday and Sunday and the sun was hidden behind a blanket of miserable grey clouds and rain (as my friend Axel posted in a private message to me: “The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”) but now Hudson warms me. He reminds me that he’s here still.

That everything he went through in his life was mapped out long before he entered my body and became a part of me that would never leave. That he chose his path. He chose Nick and I. He chose his faulty heart. He chose the difficult and trying life that he lived and he chose his death.

Before Hudson, I realise now, I was a shell of a person. I would say I was selfish and wanted what I wanted in life and had no room for the bigness of children. But it was a lie. I was just empty and didn’t know any better.

I was walking along looking for somebody and then suddenly I wasn’t anymore. He forced his way into my life and, in doing so, saved me from myself. I fell truly in love for the first time in my life. Hudson turned me into something. He turned me into love. He filled me. He completed me. He made me count.

You are all here because you knew Hudson in one way or another. So I’m not going to go into the surgery and hospital stays and rubbish doctors or even tell you the funny stories of the nurses who poked fun at his fake crying. You’ve all followed his journey through pictures and updates, you’ve all fallen in love with him vicariously because, even from a distance, it was simply impossible not to adore this kid.

What you might not know though is that no matter how hard things got. No matter how many times I thought I couldn’t put my son through another day in the hospital. No matter how meatily the guilt swelled up inside me as I watched them poking his skin in search of veins. There was never a day in his life that my son didn’t smile broadly and gummily and his dad and me. That he didn’t stare deeply into my eyes with eyes as big as his face – eyes that enveloped me entirely with one glance and showed, with such beautiful honesty, his instant and surging love for his mom. Eyes that told me exactly what he needed at any given point of the day.

He was happy and giddy and shy and full to the brim with love. He was a personality and proud of it. He had a sense of humour and a physical wit that would put me to shame. He held his head up high almost from birth. He spoke his first word. He laughed as his father and I touched his little tummy.

Even his last day with us was one filled with gums and fistfuls of grabbed hair as he hugged me tightly and snuggled his little face tiredly into my neck.

But one of the most important things I’ll remember about my son was his impact. When he was born, I said he was going to be famous. When we found out he’d have to undergo surgery, I said he was going to be big and important. I told him he had no choice but to make it through and that I was expecting nothing but success. And he was and still is all of these things.

Because of Hudson, people are hugging their children a little tighter at night.

Because of Hudson, one mother might ask her doctor to perform the check on her unborn son for CHDs and, in doing so, save her child.

Because of Hudson, Nick is a father, the proudest, most attentive, doting father I have ever known or could ever have hoped for.

And, because of Hudson, and only because of Hudson, I am now a person of substance. I am Hudson’s mother, and this is always going to be bigger than anything I ever wanted to be.”

Christopher Robin