Petals in the ocean… instead of your footprints in the sand.

As the days go on Henry, as they keep going by, while the world keeps spinning, as people keep going about their everyday lives… I spend my days in a haze, in a darkness, it feels never-ending, sometimes there might be some sunshine that brightens the darkness, sometimes my days feel so mechanical – make sure you get up, make sure you do something, make sure you hold yourself together, make sure, make sure…. I go on, I go on but I don’t know how and don’t know when I will find my way.

Friday Henry, Friday morning I didn’t want to get out of bed…. It was another day, another day without you, I got myself up your Dad and I went for coffee and breakfast, we sat in the sunshine… Then it was on to more of our day, to go get chicken mince for your fur sisters, to go and look for a new kettle as ours has been leaking, then on to the nursery as we wanted to get some seedlings for the garden.

Upon entering the nursery I had knots building, my stomach churned… The last time I was here was when I was pregnant with you, we had gone in and looked around as I had wanted plants for your room… I wanted to create such a beautiful and peaceful space for you… One with plants as I know they are great for air quality. I remember it so well that day I remember taking my time looking, speaking to the owner about the different types of indoor plants and ever so carefully selecting two, two plants for your room. I remember bringing them home and carefully looking at your room so I would choose the perfect spot for those plants, I wanted you to be able to see one from your cot, so placed one on top of the bookshelf close by, the other I had placed on your chest of draws.

As we walked further in I held on to your Dads hand and squeezed it, just reminding myself to breathe, the lady watering near the back greeted us with a warm smile, she explained to us they didn’t have a lot left in the seedling section but would be getting more next week, we talked about the wild wind.. I felt ok your Dad and I chose some seedlings and we made our way to the counter… As this lady with the lovely smile served us she said to us both I am not sure if you know me (your Dad did) but I have been reading your posts… She thanked me for sharing, she thanked me saying that by my writing I was helping not only people who had lost a child, but helping people in other ways too and helping them to understand. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes. Thank you I replied I thanked her for reading Henry, I talked about how I wanted this to help others and how I wanted to be able to share to let people know it is ok to talk about it, how its better to talk about it. I sometimes wonder Henry and I over think and wonder if people think I shouldn’t be writing… but then to hear that… I don’t think that lady knows how much what she said meant to us both.

As we made our way home I had a beautiful friend message to see if I wanted lunch or a coffee, still full from breakfast but eager to catch up I opted for a coffee, after we got home she came to pick me up and we went for coffee. We sat for a couple of hours, she once again listened to me and my feelings and thoughts, i listened to her as we talked about family about life, what had been happening. She then told me a special story… Earlier in the year this was actually before you were born she had ordered led pencils for her son for school, custom ones with his name on them, when receiving the packet there was one pencil, one random pencil in the middle of the packet…. This one pencil had a different name on it, one that wasn’t her sons….. This pencil has the name Henry on it. My friend told me at the time how she didn’t know what to do with this pencil and didn’t know a Henry…….. but then you happened to be born.

When I got home your Dad was about to start work on your car “Do you want to help?” he asked “I’d love to” I replied I went out to the garage with your Dad to help work on the car, as usual your Dad was patient, he was easy-going and allowed me to do things not worried if I make a mistake. We worked together well, taking off the tailgate, and then working underneath the car to remove the back bumper and some older bolts… As we had our heads under the back of the car one of the bolts was quite difficult it was hard to manoeuvre and try to get it off, as I held the exhaust out of the way your Dad attempted to hold one side with spanner and work on the other side to try to loosen it, the spanner came loose it fell and banged hard against the ground, I flinched and the loud sound startled me so much “Jesus” I yelled out as it fell as it felt like the car might fall and your Dad Henry, he began laughing and laughing and laughing… he couldn’t stop the laughter and tears were coming out of his eyes. “I have never seen the colour drain from someones face so fast” he said laughing…. the laughter Henry was so infectious I began to laugh along with him.

Friday night, your Dad cooked us a fish curry, Friday night we watched better homes and gardens, we went to bed and both read….. Friday night I sad to your Dad “I don’t know how to do this” and I really don’t Henry…

Saturday morning your Dad went to boxing, he took my car thinking he would only be there half an hour, I got up as I had planned to meet up with a beautiful lady, one who had lost her adult son, herself, myself and your Nanny were going to meet on the beach, your beach. I waited for your Dad to get back, I waited and waited and waited…. I messaged him, it came time for me to go and he still wasn’t back I started the walk to your Nanny and Poppy’s place. your Dad finally phoned back said he would meet me there I snapped at him, not meaning to I just hate being late…. I snapped dropped him home and your Nanny and I headed off.

We met at our beach, we met with dried rose petals, from a bunch of roses I had bought for this special lady after she had taken the time to talk with me one day. Your Nanny also had some dried rose petals from her mother’s day flowers. We walked slowly down the stairs on to the beach, the wind blew wildly, so wildly just as it did on the day we laid you to rest there, just as it had done every other day I have decided to visit with you there… You certainly make yourself known with the wind. We walked to this special ladies spot for her son, and stood for a moment talking about him, then the three of us, we walked along the sand we stopped, we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and we walked slowly in to the cold cold water our feet the water washed up over my feet so slowly, it was cold but refreshing it made me feel like I was alive and not just existing, we had the rose petals which we spread letting them fly through the wind in to the water. Your Nanny commented that they looked like butterflies, as they flew through the air gently flying along until they ever so softly fell barely touching the water as the small waves swept them back and forth.

I took bunches of the rose petals letting them fly from my fingers, except for one, one rose petal which I had chosen as my favourite, I had chosen this one as my favourite as it had ever so slightly curled around and within that curl around a tiny leaf, it looked like the petal was hugging the leaf, holding it ever so close. This petal the way it curled around and had captured the leaf reminded me of the way a mother may snuggle her baby, hold her baby, capture them within their arms and hold them to thier chest lovingly never wanting to let them go….. This one petal I held on to as I thought of the way I would hold you, breathe you in, this petal I held on until the end… I slowly brought the petal up to my mouth lightly placing a kiss, I bent down placing it ever so gently in to the water as I did I whispered to myself “I love you Henry” and the tears fell softly behind my sunglasses on to my cheeks.

We all hugged in the water and then as we left, we chose a rock or a shell to place in a pot plant at home. We left the windy beach washing our feet and I thought of you, of your beautiful face, of how much I loved you, of how much you have brought to my life, I thought of how much i had wanted to and would love to see your footprints in the sand, instead i’ll only ever have petals in the ocean.

As Saturday went on, your Dad and I went to look for a kettle as we hadn’t gotten one yet. We stopped at another little store in there I saw an old style canvas world map. It was exactly what I had wanted for your room, but I hadn’t found one, the colours, the size it was all perfect I mentioned this to your Dad, “Get it” he said but then I thought why? why would I be getting it, you are not here “Whats the point” I said to your Dad “It’s up to you we can out it up in his room” he replied “Why we don’t even go in there often enough” I said becoming teary your Dad said “I’ll leave it to you” something inside me still wanted to get it Henry, I don’t know why…. so I did.

On saturday Henry I recieved an email through my letters to you, an email from someone who shares a mutual friend… The email Henry was lovely, this person who i did not know had taken the time to contact me, they had thanked me for writing my letters to you, they shared with me, and they also shared some links… One of those links was to your song… The song I had played to start your service… a song which says it all (Winter Bear by Coby Grant). this person didn’t know that and by them sharing that with me, I felt like you were close… This lady had said how much she had wanted to send it but didn’t know whether too but then just felt that push… I am so glad she did as it feels like you are somehow involved like its your way communicating through others to say ‘I am here’…. It still amazes me Henry, it amazes me that there are people out there I dont even know who read my letters to you xx

Saturday afternoon I began to really feel it again, I felt the sadness engulf me, all of me swallowed in the sadness, like a dark fog surrounds and you can’t see past it. “Sit down” said your Dad as we sat on the lounge, he hugged me as we sat a friend messaged me, she messaged about making ice cream in her new thermomix, we chatted for a bit and I just thought to myself bugger it ‘do you want some company for a little while’ I asked ‘sure’ she said so I got myself together and went to see her and her family.

As I arrived at her place Henry I was greeted with the usual big hugs, smiles and laughter her beautiful children give, they showed me their rooms and changes they had made, they showed me toys, as I sat and talked to my friend I read books with them and chatted. Later her daughter got out some photo books one of her and one of her brother when they were babies, another of my friend’s wedding, she wanted us to look at the photos and we did we looked and talked about them. Her daughter then got out your bookmarks.. The ones that were made for your service “Henry” she said to me “its baby Henry” she studied the photograph of you almost looking a little sad “he died” she said “He did” I replied and I smiled at her wanting her to know it was ok for her to talk, she looked at the photo of yourself, your Dad and I on the back “Were you crying?” she asked “Yes I was because I was sad”, “His lips look like they have blood on them” she said “It’s not blood they were just very red lips” I explained “He’s yours” she said….. in that moment Henry I felt so proud as you are mine and I am proud of that so incredibly proud… “”He is mine” I replied with a smile “He’s all mine and Maggsy’s” I said.             “No he’s mine too” she said giggling… “Ok I will share” I replied, “If he was here I’d cuddle him up as mine” she replied “maybe one day when he has a brother or sister you can cuddle them anytime you like” I suggested “but what if they die too?” she asked, this broke my heart Henry only because I wasn’t sure how do I explain this to someone so small “They won’t as I will see a very special Doctor next time” I said (as I will be seeing a private obstetrician the whole way through) I sat there though Henry I sat there not knowing, I didn’t know if that was the right answer I didn’t know what to say, how to explain. I hope that’s what happens next time, I hope extra precautions are taken, monitoring that should be is done…. but yet you, you were perfectly healthy and this still happened, so how can we ever be sure.

I stayed the afternoon chatting, listening to the laughter, taking it easy and it was good. At about five I thought I better come home for dinner with your Dad, so I drove home… On the way home I stopped at the supermarket, I stopped to get some paper towel and other items we need as I entered the aisle  for toiletries I stopped, I stopped and I looked at the pregnancy tests, should I? do I? should I buy some to have at home just incase as we are trying I grabbed two packs and placed them in the basket… do I dare hope I thought to myself.

I got the shopping home and your Dad wasn’t home, I ran to the bathroom thinking maybe I could try one, just one, maybe somehow, maybe?….. I did the test and there was no second line 😦 I could have tried to kid myself, I could try to look but there was none….  I have been feeling crampy all week… no doubt my period will arrive this week as it should, no doubt I will have to somehow deal with that disappointment, no doubt I will somehow have to deal with the defeat, deal with failure of my body to hold siblings for you. I will somehow not only have to process and work through my longing for you, but my longing to hold your siblings in my womb. I know some would say it would be too early to test, but I just know, I know it hasn’t happened and it hurts, as some days I feel like the only thing which will help, the only thing I want, I need, that will keep me going is having siblings for you….

I contemplated starting dinner Henry but thought I would run a bath, whilst I was in the bath your Dad he came home but then went out again, I stayed there in the bath, I stayed there as your Dad had said before he went did I mind? I wanted to say that I did, I wanted to say that I was feeling really sad and wanted him home with me, but he has been so good Henry, he has been so wonderful and deserves a break sometimes, so instead of answering honestly I snapped, I snapped at him and told him it was up to him I didn’t care, It was wrong and I knew it but it just sort of came out. I felt so guilty but I don’t want him to feel he has to stay home for me. So he went and I stayed in that bath until the water was so cold and then willed myself to get out.

As the night went on I had toast for dinner, I tried to watch Netflix to distract myself, I sat feeling so alone, I sat feeling so much sadness, I sat thinking to myself about how this pain, how I felt like it was crushing me ever so slowly, how I might at any minute be unable to bear the weight of it anymore. Even though the lights were on in the house Henry I was in a dark place, it had become really dark and I couldn’t see a way out. I wanted to be with you, I wanted to be where I could hold you in my arms, I wanted to be where you were cuddled in to my chest safe and warm, not where you are just a memory, a photograph, I wanted the pain, the aching to be gone.

I crawled in to bed Henry weary but unable to sleep, unable to find rest, I felt as though this was too hard, I felt as though I didn’t want to do this anymore. I tried to read but couldn’t concentrate on the words, I looked at your photo once more and posted it on instagram with a poem about meeting you again, oh how I would give anything to hold your face to mine agin, to feel the softness of those cheeks. I had a friend message me to ask if I was ok? I was honest I told her how I was feeling, I told her “Tonight is shit. Tonight I feel like such a failure, Tonight I feel like my body failed, I feel like I failed Tim I failed my little boy, tonight I want to know why and I will never have that… I used to believe in positive thinking in everything happens for a reason but it’s all just shit and I have to wake up each day living it”

My friend spoke kind words, she said I was amazing, strong and beautiful and that it was fucked up and how she wished she could do something, she typed me messages and we talked. Soon it was midnight and I messaged your Dad to see where he was. He came home not long after Henry and that was it, I couldn’t help it I couldn’t hold it all in any longer as he climbed in to bed I just felt everything completely overwhelm me, if grief comes in waves this was almost a tsunami I whispered to your Dad how I didn’t want the pain anymore, how tonight I felt like I wanted to be with you and then I didn’t just sob, I howled, I howled as your Dad held me and I hugged your cushion in-between the howls I said to your Dad “I can’t do this it hurts too much, I want him here and he’s not” your Dad tried to get me to breathe to calm down “I just want him so much I love him he was so wanted why when he was so wanted” I cried “It hurts too much the pain is to much I can’t do it” as my whole body shook your Dad cried to Henry he cried as he said to me “we can do this together” he cried and said “we don’t want to put this same pain on anyone else you don’t want to put that pain on me” he reminded me of how much he loves me, he reminded me of that when he said ‘I do’ it was for life, he said to me “Henry wants siblings he wants a brother and sister he doesn’t want step brothers and sisters he wants his mum and dad to have siblings for him” and eventually I was able to breathe again, eventually I was able to calm but by this time Henry it was 2am.

Sunday morning we both woke so very tired, my eyes still puffy from all the crying and sore, I didn’t want to get up but I made myself. We went about our morning doing what we needed too, we came home and I read, I just wanted to sleep but we had to go to your Nanny and poppy’s for your uncles birthday, we went and I managed the afternoon ok, we had dinner… Your Nanny, Poppy, two uncles your aunty and your two little cousins there. I was doing ok, then the cake came out, the cake was for your uncles birthday, my birthday and your aunty… As the lights went out and we sang Happy Birthday, as your cousins blew the candles out and laughed and we did it again for them…. I looked over to the wall where the picture we got your Nanny for mother’s day hung, the birth poster an outline of a baby with your name, measurements and time of birth on it… I looked and in that moment I thought to myself this is all so wrong, you are not meant to be just a sketch on the wall, that’s not how this is, it’s not what it was going to be, you should be there in my arms, you should be smiling and looking at the bright flame of the candle, you should be being passed around amongst the family while they dote on you…. but you’re not and never will be, you’ll always now just be a picture on the wall. We will never hear your voice at family events, I’ll never have you here for my birthday….. It’ll never be.

Henry I can’t tell you, I can’t explain the pain of that moment, and the pain of the moments we have to face ahead, of getting through all the firsts and events, of working through my birthday soon, of getting through the day a year ago I found out about your existence, of working through fathers day, your dads birthday… It’s so unnatural it’s so wrong, this is not the order its supposed to go in…. we were supposed to raise you, to watch you grow old, to teach you how to walk, talk, read, ride a bike……. you weren’t supposed to go before us and certainly not before you spent time outside my womb with us…. My whole soul is shattered, my world will never be the same and I know now there won’t be a day without feeling this pain.

Today Henry, today was your Dads first day back at work, this morning as his alarm went off it filled me with dread, this morning as he left we both cried tears, and mine continued as he walked out the door, I lay there I tried to go back to sleep with little success. I got a message from a friend to check in… which was nice, after a few messages she even asked had I eaten… I hadn’t yet but said “I will” ‘ok eat up gotta have a healthy body for Arthur and Martha’ I smiled and laughed a little it reminded me of something your Dad would say to me. Today Henry I got up, today Henry I kept going, today Henry I even managed to clean the bathroom, wash both towels and sheets, cook dinner see your Nanny and Poppy and see a friend…. Today I did ok, tonight seeing your Dad walk in the door it was the best thing I had seen all day.

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Author: Letters to Henry

My husband and I live on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia. We are currently learning to rebuild and navigate through life after the loss of our son Henry to stillbirth due to medical negligence in April of this year.

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