"I carry you in my heart."
It's not a poem I enjoy hearing. I cannot find love or joy or hope or romance in it.
I find a dead baby, not in my arms, breathing slower, not breathing, carried away by gentle arms and leaving a torn and bloodied hole through my chest.
I don't know what it means, anyway, this platitude. I don't carry anything, not even love, in a pumping mass of artery and muscle.
My baby died and he took my romantic side with him. I can say that and twist my mouth bitterly.
"I carry you in my brain," perhaps?
Less romantic, far less palatable and hardly picturesque. I carry him in my seething mass of mysterious grey tissue, the very stuff that in him, sweet boy of the dark eyebrows and chubby limbs, was so apparently ineffectual.
Brains equal memories and memories are few and far between. Eleven days is not enough at best to make a pitcher full of memories and the pictures... oh the pictures... they stole all the others, superimposing themselves on the feel and smell and joy of you. My precious, blessed pictures, the handful I took, treasured, adored, that robbed me of everything else I might recall.
"I carry you in my stomach," might work?
Perhaps. I did carry him there, in my belly; there he was safe, mine, loved. There he moved, swished, grew, kicked, hiccuped and dwelt neither poked nor pinched nor jabbed or stabbed.
When the pain comes, it is my midriff I pull in; it swoops and clenches and cramps with grief that has nowhere else to go. I wrap my arms across it, fists clenched, tense, fuming. Grief lies leaden there, taking all the space that once was yours.
I do not carry him in my arms. This I know. I do not keep him in my sight, running ahead with sisters' laughing, I do not carry him on my back, save when I feel bent beneath the weight of another year without him. I do not carry him forward.
I carry him in my silence. I carry him in the construction of a sentence that leaves a space for the unspoken child. I carry him in my grammar. I carry him in my tolerance as other people expect babies and do not fear death. I carry him in my wordless hiding of the spectre I am, not speaking the caveats that scream in my head at others careless surety. I carry him in my being, this woman who watches herself from corners, bemused - still bemused - at the person she has become. I carry him in my flat expression as song lyrics twinge my mind and recall my loss. I carry him in a brittle smile and tearless eyes.
I carry him in the sudden silence, the choked lost words that catch me unawares when I tell someone, unexpectedly, that I lost a child. 4 years on and still I can find myself blindsided that there are people in my world who do not know. That I carry him - my son - so hidden, that he is not written on my face.
So this now, is grief, 4 years on. Living with it. Still mystified by it. Bitter, accepting, tolerating, adept.
There are days when I think Freddie dug depths in my soul and mined me so deep that I found a shining beautiful part of myself I might never have met without him. And there are other days when I think the loss of him made me so shallow, so brittle, that it is almost as if I do not feel at all.
What has grief done to you? Would you be without the pieces of you that have been unearthed by it? What feelings are you experiencing now, as you journey on without your child? Are you bitter, accepting, angry, blank? Do you have a sense of carrying your child in some part of you or in a place? Are there words, songs or music that hold you to your child or repel you?