I am addicted to him, total and utter all-consuming addiction. I keep replaying our chats over and over again in my mind, trying to relive every word, every moment. I can't eat. I hardly sleep, only to dream feverishly of him. I want to touch him, smell him one last time. I want to lose myself in the mesmerising depths of his eyes. I want to hold him close and never let him go, but he is lost to me, gone forever.
I have never felt unhappiness or pain like this before. My heart aches constantly, a raw, savage ache. I feel lost and completely alone without him. I can be surrounded by friends and family, people who I know love me dearly, but it doesn't matter. I don't have him anymore, and he has been my everything. Move on, people say, let him go. Time will heal your pain, others advise. I don't want time to pass. Every second, of every minute of every hour in every day means that time is separating us further and further, pulling us apart.
I want time to stand still, or even reverse. I want to freeze time forever in every moment I have had with him, or even to rewind time further still to my life before him. My small, selfish, self-obsessed little life before him. I could have remained in that old life, never having known him, but I would have known that I was missing someone. Someone I loved, still love, beyond all else, my son.
My precious son, Emmet, died on the tenth of October 2009. He was only two years old. Cot death, was the doctor's verdict. Not your fault, he'd explained. Nothing you could have done. So why did I believe that it was my fault, all my fault? If only I'd checked on him one more time, I might have saved him, I torture myself. The horribe, all-encompassing guilt is unbearable. I remember being relieved that he was sleeping late, for once. Usually he was awake before five o' clock in the morning, but that morning he was still asleep at nine. I luxuriated in the cosiness of my lie-in, one ear open for my baby's cries, but they never came. I didn't know then that I would never hear his cries again.
Those two short years of Emmet's life were the happiest two years of my life. Emmet was a blessing, a gift from God. I started to truly believe in God, or a Higher Power, when I was pregnant. The miracle of life was unfolding before me. If I had ever doubted the existence of God I knew He was with me every time I looked into my baby's eyes. The love I felt for my baby, and still feel is true love. I wanted to protect him, nurture him, prepare him for the wonderful life that I was sure lay ahead for him, but that life was never to be.
I know that I can never love anyone like that again. I don't want to feel love like that again, because I am too afraid of losing it. I can't take the pain of that loss. The void in my life is almost unbearable. I feel like I'm standing on the very edge of a precipice, overlooking a deep chasm below and that all I have to do is throw myself into the blissful darkness of the abyss. It would be such a relief from this heartache which is my constant companion now, but I can't do that to myself or to my son. I owe it to him to try to live some semblance of a life and carry on as best I can.
I remember the horrible, sinking feeling I had when I realised my period was three weeks late. I had tried to block out the fact that I might be pregnant. I didn't want to be pregnant then, maybe never. Nine months of watching your body change beyond recognition, and then the aftermath; a wobbly body and a screaming baby to contend with. No thanks, I'd thought, vainly admiring my flat stomach in the mirror, motherhood was most certainly not on my agenda at this particular moment in time.
When my period was six weeks late, I started to panic. I was still too much in denial to take a pregnancy test, just a few more weeks, I'd tried to convince myself. I searched the internet looking for ways to bring on a period. I had two almost boiling hot baths every day for the next few weeks, but all I suffered was very pink, dried-out skin. I exercised vigorously and drank more wine than usual, but nothing happened.
Finally, I took a pregnancy test, I actually took three tests and all three were positive. It was official, I was pregnant. Congratulations, my boyfriend had said, hugging me tight and taking a picture on his mobile phone of the positive pregnancy test. I looked at him in disgust. Congratulations, I'd thought with contempt, easy for you to say. My life is over. You'll still play football on Tuesday evenings with the lads, while I'm stuck minding the baby. You'll probably think you're doing me a favour if you mind the child for a few hours while I do the grocery shopping. A future of nappy changing and baby burping flashed before my eyes and I didn't like it.
Abortion, such an ugly word. I considered it for a few weeks, trying to convince myself that my life could still be my own. I got all the literature from the doctor, investigated clinics in England, I even made the appointment, but I couldn't go through with it.
Then the bleeding started, very light, barely noticeable at first, but then heavier. I was afraid, so very afraid. I spent two nights in hospital. They confirmed I was nine weeks pregnant. I realised there and then, lying in my hospital bed, attached to drips and monitors that I didn't want to lose this baby. I wanted this child, my child, my flesh and blood. I gently patted my slightly swollen stomach and willed my baby to live. Fight, I whispered, fight.
It amazed me how quickly I changed my mind about my pregnancy. When faced with the prospect of losing my child, I realised how much I wanted this baby. I started to embrace my impending motherhood. I read every book on pregnancy that I could get my hands on. I tracked the details of the following months in my diary. I had so many hopes and dreams for this child, and couldn't wait to meet my baby.
It was an unusually cold December. I awoke on the morning of December seventh to the first snow of the winter. The ground was covered in a wonderful white blanket of soft powder. The calm stillness outside helped to distract me from the cramps that had started almost an hour before I'd finally decided to drag myself out of bed. Don't worry, little one, I thought as I gently patted my huge bump, it won't be long until we meet each other. Several hours and a lot of pain later I finally met my baby, Emmet. A tiny bundle of pink, wrinkled skin. I quickly forgot the agony I had suffered when I looked into his face. I was filled with an overwhelming rush of love.
I never knew love or tiredness like I experienced over the following months. Emmet was quite a sickly baby, waking often and not feeding very well. He went through a phase of only sleeping for forty five minutes before waking again. I was so utterly exhausted at one point that I felt like I was sleep-walking through my days. Then Emmet would smile at me or look at me like he knew I was his mother and it was all worth it. Emmet's dad and I had split up during my pregnancy. He saw Emmet regularly but he was still too young for his dad to have him overnight. It was me and my baby against the world.
Emmet's first word was "da" which I took to understand meant "dad". I would have liked for his first word to be "ma" but I was thrilled anyway.
Nothing can protect us from death. Nobody can be our companion on the lonely road from life to death. My heart aches every day at the thought that my precious little boy was so utterly alone for the last few moments of his life on this earth.
I torture myself with my memories of him and all the hopes I had for his future. I imagine what he might have been doing now, had he lived. He'd have just turned three years old. It would have been his third Christmas, but the first Christmas that he would have really enjoyed and understood. Last year he was too scared to talk to Santa Claus in the shopping mall. He just stared at him, with his big innocent brown eyes, saying "no, don't want to" when I asked him if he wanted to tell Santa what he would like for Christmas. I got him a toy puppy that year. He was so excited when he opened all the wrapping paper. He was scared when the puppy wagged its tail and little Emmet ran to the other side of the room and hid behind the couch, peeping at the puppy. I laughed so much at my little man.
He was such a bundle of fun, such a happy child, always smiling and chuckling to himself. He loved reading his books, well pretending to read. He'd pick up a book, usually upside down, and start pointing at the pages, shouting out different words, like he could actually read. His favourite nursery rhyme was "Twinkle Star". Whenever he would see a star, in the sky or in a book, he'd shout at the top of his voice "I wonder" because it reminded him of "Twinkle Star."
So now I'm left wondering where has my little boy gone? Is he in heaven? Is he happy? Will I ever see him again? I have to believe, for my own sanity, that I will hold him in my arms again, one day. Sometimes, I dream of him. He is sitting in my lap and I am reading him a story and he's looking up at me with his big, innocent brown eyes. Sometimes, I feel an overwhelming peacefulness descend upon me, I believe Emmet is with me in those moments. My mother believes that those we are closest to in this life surround us when they pass away. They watch over us, almost like a guardian angel, until it is our time to leave this life. I hope it's true.
Death of a Loved One is taken from the book, My Love by Joanne Clancy. Click here to buy on Amazon.