Sunday, 4 November 2012
I am spinning around, around and around. The music is blasting out of the speakers so loudly I cannot think. I feel like the star of a movie. In the movie I am a dancing star who is adored, revered and envied in equal measure. As I spin ever faster and faster I feel a bubble of laughter rise up within me and I feel a rush of pleasure as it erupts from my mouth. My own ears delight in the sound. I spin yet faster and faster to the beat of the music feeling free and unfettered. My long black hair fans around me. My hair is very sexy and tonight I know it. I know that my hair is one of my most alluring features, I am always told so by everyone I meet, it also keeps me looking young. Whenever people guess my age they always knock 10 years off, and I don’t mind I would love to be 24 again! I gasp as I feel myself collide with something, and tumble out of control. My laughter is gone as I hear the angry cries and shouts from all around as a hard thump into my stomach and ribs winds me. I hear the sound of snapping wood and the strangely nice tinkling sound of glass smashing. I keep my eyes tightly shut even when the noise has ended and I am still. I do not want to look. I do not want to see. My fantasy has been smashed along with the glass and I feel scared and vulnerable now.
“Oh my goodness is she hurt or unconscious?” a worried female voice asks close to my head.
“No I don’t think she’s knocked out her eyes are all scrunched up tight and no blood that I can see” a disapproving male voice observes, “She’s lucky. She is obviously off her face, did you see her? Spinning round pissed as a fart laughing her head off. She is lucky she didn’t hurt herself or someone else”.
As if I haven’t embarrassed myself enough I suddenly feel the shame give way to self pity and I burst in to tears. I immediately wish I hadn’t as this action forces my eyes open and I see that almost everyone in the club is staring at me in amusement. No one asks if I am o.k. and no one speaks directly to me. I can however see people nudging each other and pointing at me so clearly plenty of people are talking about me. The bouncer and a woman who has spent the evening clearing glasses from tables are bent over me looking more than a little annoyed. I have landed on, and broken a wooden chair and from what I can make out have knocked over several tables and chairs and I am covered in glass, as is the floor. I look into the bouncers eyes and to my shame I wail “I am not lucky, I am more hurt than you can ever know”!
I stagger to my feet and stumble forward as I try to escape. My drunken legs will not carry me fast enough and I am acutely aware of my audience. I hear snippets of what is being said about my being drunk and the assumption that I have been dumped. What is it with people that if they see a woman drunk they have to think it is about a man, “small minded fools” I mutter. One fat, orange, bleached blond girl is laughing at me so nastily that I want to punch her right in her ugly, fat pink mouth. Luckily my legs are still heading for the door and my brain is functioning enough to warn me away from making even more of a fool out of myself. She looks more stupid than me anyway I seethe. What with her bright yellow hair, orange skin and a florescent pink outfit. What a horrendous clash of colours. I finally make it to the door hoping that the fat, orange one gets what is coming to her via being publicly dumped and humiliated some day. Cow! Dumped! I wish I had been! I wish that was all! Once outside in the cool air I slow down. I catch my breath and look around. Some sad vultures have followed me outside of the club in the keen hope that the freak show will continue and they will be able to feel better about their sad little lives. I feel the tears well up again and swallow them down hard. Thankfully I only live a 10 minute walk from the club, so I take a deep breath and start to make my way home in the thick black night.
It is early May and I don’t have a coat on so really should be freezing cold. I am not. I feel nothing. Nothing! I feel the tears well up again so perhaps that is not strictly true, there is a huge mass of pain burning in the pit of my stomach, making me want to vomit, making me want to die. I wish I didn’t feel anything, I wish I was dead. I wish I was. I wish I was. I am sobbing again now. Hard! So hard that my legs give way and I fall on to the cold, hard pavement with a dull thud. I gasp in pain but I am crying so hard that I can hardly catch my breath again. Who knew that a person had so many tears in them? Who knew that it was possible to cry so much for so long?
“Carrie! Carrie! I found her Stewart! She’s at the top of the road. Give me a second. I’ll call you back”. I hear my sister Millie’s frantic calls and look up dazed. What is she doing here? How did she know where to find me? She looks petrified as she runs up the road frantically. “I thought,” she starts to admonish and doesn’t finish the sentence. She doesn’t need to; I know what she thought and who can blame her. I try to apologise but the words don’t ever really form in my head and just turn into an incomprehensible wail, a wail muffled by her squeezing me into her arms very tightly. I feel her body shaking as she cries with me and I hug her back. Together we cry like babies for a very long time. Just like tiny little babies....
In my head I am no longer there in the street crying with my sister after making a public fool of myself. I am in the maternity ward, holding my perfect newborn baby son in my arms after five hours of natural labour. Adam. My beautiful perfect little baby boy, born with a shock of jet black hair like me and the most stunning liquid brown eyes like his father. Even at birth he looked handsome there wasn’t a person who saw him who would tell you different. No red screwed up little face like the other newborns for him. His skin was smooth and clear and beautiful. As I look at his amazing little face and drink in the smell of his brand new life I feel like a lottery winner. More than a lottery winner really as money was nothing in comparison to the wonder of our boy. Having our son after eight long years of trying was such a wonderful start to the New Year, we were sure that the year ahead, and indeed the whole future would be perfect. He was born on the 2nd January weighing 6lbs 7oz, a perfect weight, and a perfect baby. Believe me I am not over using that word; I am under using it by a mile! I felt like an amazing specimen of a woman producing that fabulous little being who had the whole world at his teeny tiny feet!
Even my pregnancy had been so easy. I hadn’t been plagued by morning sickness, tiredness, weird cravings or even the slightest backache. My sister had been so jealous of how I had sailed through those nine months. He came just a week before his due date so I was ready but not yet fed up of being pregnant. I had had it so easy. My bump had been small and neat. My skin had glowed and I knew that my hair had never looked better. It had been blissful. It had been too easy.
We buried him today.
I got up on 30th April to find my baby cold and lifeless in his Moses Basket. There was no warning, no illness, nothing wrong with him at all as far as we could see. He had been a healthy, happy baby right up until the moment he had died. I knew something was wrong though. I had fed him at 10pm; he had been happy, smiling and wide awake. I changed his nappy and sang him songs until he fell asleep peacefully and I fell asleep right after him. I can remember gently prising my finger out of his tiny little hand, wrapping his blanket around him and sighing contentedly as I snuggled down in to my own bed. My husband was watching the end of a film that I didn’t really want to watch and the bed was cool, crisp and fresh. It was blissful. When I woke up in the morning and realised that it was 6.28am and Adam had not fed in the night. Instinct told me that something was very wrong. I sat in my bed paralysed with fear as I tried to pluck up the courage to look at him, telling myself that I was paranoid and silly, but I wasn’t. I knew there was something wrong and as soon as I touched my gorgeous little boy my world collapsed. He was so cold; the little white blanket he was wrapped in was useless, my baby’s tiny little body was ice cold. My screaming woke Stewart who came running to the Moses Basket tripping over in his haste to see what on earth was going on. I wonder if he wishes he hadn’t of seen what I saw? I still see that sight every time I close my eyes. Perhaps he does too.
Cot death they call it, or Sudden Infant death Syndrome to give it its cold, harsh clinical name. He had never even slept in his cot I have screamed over and over again. I feel like I have been screaming every day since, when I am not wondering if I wasted precious minutes sitting in that bed scared. Stewart doesn’t run to me anymore when I scream or cry. He doesn’t touch me or even look at me much anymore. We have only really talked to discuss arrangements. Arrangements for a day that neither of us ever wanted to arrive, a date that we will hate forever. Because this is the hateful day when we were forced to put our beautiful little boy in to a coffin, and then bury him in the cold, hard ground. We will have nothing to talk about anymore I realised as we sat in the car on the way to the church. It was the first time we had ever sat in a car without touching, talking or even looking at each other. I wondered in that car how long it would be before he left me too. I kept trying to read his body language, to see a sign in his eyes, but it was no good. I saw nothing, just an empty space where his love for me had once been.
The funeral was held at our local church at 1pm. Again I screamed as Stewart carried our son’s coffin into the church, I rushed forward as I wanted to stop him from taking Adam inside, as if that somehow could stop him from being dead. I cannot remember who grabbed me and stopped me and I am glad as I would hate them for it forever. I can however remember how Stewart looked at me and I wish I couldn’t, he just looked so embarrassed and ashamed. He used to look at me with love and even lust. He will never look at me like that again I fear.
Afterwards many people who attended said that the service was lovely. “Are they stupid”? I yelled at Stewart, “How can anything be lovely about burying a tiny little body in the ground”? What can possibly be lovely about seeing that tiny little coffin holding my little Adam‘s lifeless body? Stupid idiots! Every single person who said that it was a lovely or beautiful service was just stupid. They are thoughtless idiots as far as I can see! I couldn’t take any more; it was just all too much for me. I ran out of the wake, literally just got up and ran out. I ended up at a bar getting blind drunk, and then on the way home I had to pass the club. Everyone in the queue or even just out the front smoking all looked so happy, and in my drunken haze I felt this longing to be in the company of happy people for just a short while. I just didn’t want to have to go home to the solemn sadness that was waiting for me. I didn’t want to have to face my husband, or our families. I wanted to drink. I wanted to dance, to laugh and to forget even if it was only for a short while.
“Stewart is worried sick” Millie is telling me, “he was searching everywhere, he even went to the hospital to see if you were hurt”. By hurt I hear “he thought you had killed yourself”, I wonder if he would have cared. Perhaps that would have been a relief for him? Then he could move on and have a fresh start with another woman. Adam and I would just be sad memories from the past. He wouldn’t see my failure every time he looked at her face.
“He hates me” I state bluntly, “I’ve failed him, failed our son. I am an embarrassment to him”. I wail that he hates me over and over. I can acknowledge that I hate myself more. Millie shakes me as she tells me sternly “He loves you Carrie, he always has and always will. He is petrified. He has lost his son and now he thinks he is losing you too”, I can see the distress in Millie’s pretty face. Her usually beautiful sparkling brown eyes are dull and lifeless, and it makes me realise I haven’t noticed her or anyone else’s distress before. That little realisation stuns me for a minute. All I have been able to see was my little Adam’s cold, lifeless body. Shame rises in me again and again I am crying and again Millie wraps her slender arms around me and hugs me tightly. “You will come through this”. I shake my head but she is insistent, “you will Carrie. You will never forget and it will hurt like hell for a very long time, but one day you will feel joy again, one day you will feel happy again, and on the days when you cannot feel happy and cannot be o.k. we will be there. We will always be there if only you will just let us in”.
“How will life ever be o.k. again? How will I ever be able to feel joy again? I can’t see an end to the pain Millie. I can’t ever imagine a time when life will feel good”.
“Of course you can’t now” Millie insists, “now is only a few weeks after Adam died” we both wince as she states this fact, “but now will pass. You have to believe that”. The last point is almost a plea and I want to agree, I want to make her right, but I cannot speak. I cannot say that she is right when I truly do not believe that she is.
“Sorry I couldn’t wait any longer” Stewart’s soft voice interrupts, “Are you ok. Carrie? Are you hurt?” I notice a quiver in his voice. Millie gets to her feet and assures him that I am unhurt. I try to stand but aside from being very drunk my legs are dead from the cold and I re-land in an undignified heap again. I cannot look up at my husband as he tells my sister that her husband is waiting to take her home. She has children to get back to I think with a bitterness that I cannot help but still do not like. I don’t watch Millie and Lennon leave. I am too busy staring at Stewarts highly polished, shiny black shoes. They are immaculate still even after the long horrible day. He always looks immaculate; it’s something that I normally love about him. Now I hate him for it. I dread to think of the state I must look. He squats down beside me and pulls my face round until I have to look at him. I feel so shocked to see for the first time how sallow his skin looks, how lined and stressed his handsome face looks. He seems to have aged about 15 years since I last looked at him properly, his soft brown hair is a mess and looks as though it hasn’t seen a brush much recently and I have never seen him look so tired. Stewart holds my face still and he kisses me for a very long time. After a while I kiss him back fiercely and we hold each other and kiss as though our very lives depend on it. When we finally let go there is a shocked silence sitting between us. I break it. “I’m so sorry that I failed you, and Adam. That I wasn’t a good enough Mum and I couldn’t keep him” my voice trails off as I see Stewart shaking his head fiercely but my tears do not stop flowing. “Do you blame me?” he asks simply. This question stuns me but I answer in a heartbeat “No! Of course not”! I rush to defend this point but he doesn’t let me get any further. He demands to know how I can blame myself and yet not blame him at all! “I was his Father; am his Father, it was as much my job to protect him as it was yours. We were helpless to protect him from that, that, from it. From cot death” at this point saying that hateful phrase, I realise that he is crying and I reach out and hold him. For the first time in days my eyes remain dry and I actually manage to comfort my grieving husband. When his tears subside we talk, out in the freezing cold street in the dead of night we open up and talk and cry and hold one another for the first time since we found our beautiful baby cold in his bed. “He was a lucky little boy really” Stewart tells me. I flinch at that statement, “How so?”
“Because he was wanted Carrie, very, very wanted. We longed for him, tried for him for eight long years” he shakes his head in wonder, and when he finally arrived we adored him” he laughs wryly, “both of our families adored him and bombarded us with visits as they wanted to see him so much. He was so loved, for every second of his short life”.
We talk and talk, both saying our peace and finally get all of the feelings, hurt and anger out. We spew it all out in to the empty street. All of the things that we were too afraid to say, and all of the feelings that we were too afraid to admit that we were feeling spill out and are lost in the cold night. After a while he informs me “its 4am, we need to go home. You are shivering” he rubs my arms frantically trying to warm me up.
“So are you” I acknowledge but he still takes off his jacket and wraps it tightly around me. “Will we be ok?” I ask Stewart fearfully as he helps me to my feet and tries to steady me as I wobble unsteadily on my freezing cold, numb legs.
“I really don’t know Carrie” he shakes his head in bewilderment as my heart contracts with dread at what I will hear next, “I used to be so sure about everything and now” he takes a deep breath; I’m not sure about anything anymore”. On seeing my face he adds with a solemn nod, “but I want us to be”. He is holding me now, trying to guide me home. I am reluctant as my cold, drunk, stiff body moves slowly towards my uncertain future, but I know that I have to keep moving. I know that I have to face up to everything that is waiting for me. Sadly I know that the sun will still rise every morning, still set every night and I will have to fill the void that is each day in between.