“2018 will be a better year for you” I have been told over and over again with an enthusiasm and wilful desire that almost makes me believe it. For most looking from the outside in it must seem like the worst year of my life, and in many ways it was. But it was also the year that I gave birth to my first child. It was the year that I held my son in my arms for the first time and felt that unmistakable big love that only comes with being a parent. It was the year that I discovered a happiness and love like no other. The fact that it was all taken away from me should not overshadow what was the most magical moment of my life.
Through losing Benjamin I have finally begun to see what truly matters in life, I have finally started to live. I realise now that I was only passively living my life. I let my job take over everything. Precious moments that could have been spent with my friends and family were spent in front of a computer working late and at weekends. I allowed others to prioritise my time with disastrous results. To compensate for a lack of happiness I bought myself “stuff”. I went on big holidays where I spent a lot of the time sleeping because I was so tired from work. I was always busy but rarely happy.
When I was pregnant with Benjamin it felt like a new world opened up for me. Suddenly this little human growing inside me became more important than anything else. Without really realising it our weekends started to fill with tasks to prepare for our little arrival. We went into nesting overdrive. Instead of the two of us doing everything together it started to feel like three. Benjamin would kick away and make his presence felt. He opened up a new love and meaning for us that we never knew existed.
This new meaning and love only intensified once we lost him. I know that he was put on this earth for a reason and I believe that reason was to save his Mummy & Daddy. To save us from wasting our lives on things that didn’t matter, to help us to have the courage to do what we love and to live a life with the mask of complacency finally lifted. I have stripped my life back to basics and it feels very good indeed. The constant pursuit for more has been replaced with time, space and a focus on experiences, not “stuff”. I don’t need to have the latest dresses or the newest car. I don’t need to have the biggest house. I need a connection with people. I need to be understood. And most importantly I need to be loved.
I no longer look through people. Now when I see a person I wonder what their story is. I wonder if, like me, they are carrying a great sadness with them, a missing piece. I wonder if a great trauma in their lives has been papered over with a perfect smile. I wonder if the person at the shops is so rude because they are in pain or maybe they are just unhappy in their lives. I now take a breath before judging someone, always wondering, what is their story? I am more patient. I am more kind. I think of others more often. If this is what Benjamin’s legacy is then I think that is pretty amazing. It is amazing for him and it is amazing for us. Yes, it has come at a great cost and it is not how we would have chosen it but I’ll be damned if our little boy’s life was for nothing.
So how can a year that has brought all of that to our lives be discarded or forgotten?
The only thing that has kept me going through this last year has been love. So instead of declaring it the year of sorrow and loss, I declare it the year of love. It was the year where, despite the worst, love prevailed. Death cannot take my love from me. It cannot take the connection between a mother and her son. I know that I have changed. I will never be the person I was before but maybe, just maybe, I can be better than before.
Bring it on 2018, I’m going to kick your ass 👊