Someone said to me today, as they looked at a picture of me 6 years ago, you looks so young, how old were you when that was taken? Imagine my surprise when they expressed their surprise at it only being 6 years ago! “You look much younger!” An innocuous comment, maybe even a compliment to my then self of how young I looked for my age. But for me, now, it serves to remind me of everything that has happened in that 6 years, or really the last 8 months. When that photo was taken it was at a time when I felt I had overcome a tragedy, and become a person I had never imagined I would become- someone stronger and once again hopeful for the future. I remember on the day that photo was taken thinking, you’ve done it, you’ve come through – nothing that happens now will ever be as devastating. I was wrong. That was the innocence of youth thinking.
On 13 February 2015, my daughter Cacia was stillborn. Her heart stopped on 10 February 2015 and I delivered her 3 days later after 12 hours of labour. I am now, 8 months later, still trying to deal with this most recent tragedy, still trying to find my place in this new reality of one living child and one dead child. I have learnt one major life lesson, that my survival is instinctual, it is not due to an active desire that I continue in my day to day life, it is very simple; I am breathing and my remaining child needs me, therefore I am present. My body didn’t stop, only a part of my heart. It turns out that part of my heart will never beat again, but you can still go on with a partial heart, even if you don’t want to, even if it feels as though it is a raw wound.
The person who commented on my photo has no idea that small throw away comment, just mentioned in passing during a play date, has redrawn my attention to my missing space, has reminded my body of the scar/wound I carry in my heart. Has reminded me of why everything is different from 6 years ago, I am experiencing how wrong my youthful innocent hope was. So now, I feel older than my contemporaries, I feel sure of my self and yet I am unsure of who myself is now, I feel confident (maybe because I don’t care for the small dramas anymore), I feel strong and yet I feel weaker than I ever have before, I feel heartbroken. I don’t feel light, in either body or mind like I did 6 years ago, I definitely don’t have the same innocent hope that tragedy will never strike again. However I do have hope.
I know that Cacia will always be missing, from my heart, my family, my life. The space she leaves is obvious to us. But day by day her space becomes easier to live around, I become little by little desensitised to her space, so much so that I now can go days before I feel the pain of her space. I struggle, sometimes, to remember the early days of grief, was the constant pain better than the current shock of re-opening the wound every few days? I honestly cannot say. I tell myself that each time her missing space is brought to my attention again that the wound is becoming more of a scar and so it is little by little less painful, but really pain is pain when you feel it, it is hard to think around it. For now I just try to accept the pain, and dare to begin to hope for the future and try to accept that I have aged in many ways over the last 6 years, but especially the last 8 months.