inside the broken

There are things which broke on that day which will never be repaired.

My ability to give a toss, for one thing. I walked out of the hospital wearing pyjamas, clutching a yoghurt. Less than an hour after watching my 11 day old son die, I left the building having forgotten to dress but feeling it was important to not waste the money spent on a breakfast yoghurt that my throat had been too constricted to eat.

A million times I have reconstructed that morning, imagined that I screamed and howled and refused to be parted from him, imagined myself cradling him - illegally outside a car seat - on the journey home. Imagined his breathless body in our home, loved by us all, for a few hours. Just a few. Long enough for all of us to hold him.

A piece of me broke when I laid the body of my child upon the bed, turned my back, walked away, left him forever. I went quietly. I walked with measured steps, climbed inside my car, composed myself for breaking the news at home.

I stared at the car in front of us, proclaiming in a jolly yellow sign "baby on board" from the back window.

I didn't cry, or snarl, or instruct my husband to ram their smug, unknowing selves off the road with their sneering, crowing, baby sign.

I don't miss the drama queen, nor the woman who put her own needs and wants first and had a baby to suit herself. She broke. She is long gone.

The mother who arrived labouring and optimistic was not the one who walked out empty armed and brokenhearted. I wonder at what became of her on those haunted corridor days, the long nights hovering above a SCBU crib. I wonder at the mother who left, grief already put to one side, able to turn her back to a beloved but dead son and focus on the living.

I would not have believed that I had that in me. I would not have believed that my soft soul, so often such a shaken and shifting thing, would have hardened, frozen, stiffened and done the deed.

I am not sure if I want to be the mother who walked away. It does not feel honourable nor does the walking illustrate the love, or the desire to stay forever, suck him inside of me, curl up upon that bed with him inside my arms and keep him warm with my warmth until we both grew cold.

But the one who arrived home. Broken, yes, but strong. So very, very much stronger than anyone believed. Least of all me.

There are things that broke inside of me that day; faith, trust, patience and tolerance. Energy for the small worries, some measure of mercy for human foibles are long gone. I do not wish to be troubled by the minutiae of petty irritations. I do not suffer them gladly.

What was left, when all that cracked and fell away, was new, pressured hardened, solid, changed.

I survived.

My son died, in my arms, under my gaze.

But I survived. I changed, changed deeply to my core, but I have survived. Sometimes, I rather resent that it is possible to do so.

Can you identify parts of your personality that have changed since the loss of your child? Are there changes you welcome in some way or do you resent them utterly? People talk about 'becoming a better person' as an aspiration after experiencing loss; is it possible for that to happen? Is it damaging to even try? In what ways has grief been a journey for your 'self', your character and how do you feel about it if it has?