Trigger Warning: Baby Loss.
It’s #BabyLossAwareness Week in the UK. It’s also #MentalHealthAwareness Month. I’ve been avoiding writing something all week, even though I have wanted to. Last night on the train back from London, I started listening to Ghosteen, by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. ‘Bright Horses’ came on, and I listened to the words. They brought me to tears, and I had to stop listening. I thought of Nick Cave’s son, and I thought of our daughter, and I thought of all the parents who have lost children everywhere.
I’m writing something now. Better late than never.
In 2014 in Gloucester Royal Hospital, just before midnight, our twins, Frankie and Cece, were born. Our first children, much wanted, much anticipated, much loved already. I sang to them in the womb, read them The Hobbit, dreamed about all the music I’d share with them.
As my wife went into labour, we were told that they couldn’t find one of the heartbeats.
Cece died during the labour. We never saw her open her eyes. Frankie came home with us but Cece never did. She is buried in the churchyard in the village in Somerset where I grew up, where we were married.
The song says: “And anyway, my baby’s coming back now on the next train”, and it makes perfect sense. Because how could it be possible that my lost child won’t come back to me soon? It is an impossible world where our babies are lost to us forever. It can’t be possible. There must be a train coming soon with all of our lost babies on it. Life seems impossible without that hope.
But it can’t be so. Grieving is hard, and the hardest part is acceptance. Accepting the impossibility of this deep, irreversible loss. Accepting the wound that cuts you down to the marrow. Some days it seems acceptable, and I feel adjusted to this reality, and other days the mind revolts, and the body rejects the truth. We do strange things, wake up in dew-covered fields far from home. Love helps, and therapy helps, and time helps. But there is no solution to the impossibility of it all.
“And the little white shape dancing at the end of the hall
Is just a wish that time can’t dissolve at all”
Sending peace and love to all those who are bereaved, and to all of our lost children.