Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Saying Goodbye

A room that was full of medical professionals suddenly empties. You are left almost alone. One nurse has to stay with you to make sure that nothing untoward has gone on and you don't try and cover anything up. What do you do?

My husband wants to talk to the nurse to find out what happens next (so very practical). And I want to say goodbye.

I said goodbye to my son in the space of about 3 minutes. I told him these 3 things - I told him I was sorry (for not being able to keep him alive). I thanked him (for teaching me so much). I told him that I loved him. And then I kissed him and said goodbye. Just as I had 2 years, 9 months and 1 day ago, I encouraged my husband to kiss him and then we walked away.

With hindsight I think I regret walking away so quickly but I'm not sure and I can't change it. He wasn't there and I knew that. However I'm reasonably staggered at my ability to string the words together that I did. Even if I'd had another 10 days, I don't think I could have said anything more meaningful.

And then? To the family room. To be offered tea. So many cliches. No thank you, I didn't want tea. And then the door closed and my mouth was so so dry, all I wanted was tea. We were asked to wait until a consultant arrived to speak to us. I don't know what we talked about whilst we waited.

We phoned our friends who had been with us and were looking after Pickle. I suspect they already knew.

I phoned my Mum in Australia - I needed to tell someone to make it real. She answered the phone 'To what do I owe this pleasure? I spoke to you this morning'. 'I'm sorry Mum, I have some terrible news, Alex has died'. She actually made a sort of howl, slightly hysterical. I held it together and this was the first of many calls where I comforted the recipient of the phone call. 'What can I do? I'm so far away'. 'You can phone me every day for a month to see how I am'. 'Of course'.

My husband phoned his parents who were at the Edinburgh festival. It seemed a much more factual call but I guess everyone reacts differently.

The registrar who had been part of the resus team came to talk to us. I remember liking her. The consultant came (from his bed) and said that the most likely cause of death was due to an epileptic fit which had been so severe Monkey's heart had stopped beating. Quick and painless.

Then we had to wait for a police escort home. As we were leaving the hospital I had an urge to run back to Monkey. I didn't want to leave him. I didn't want him to be put in a drawer (have I watched too many films?). But I resisted the urge.

My husband chatted to the policemen on the way home like you would a taxi driver on the way to the airport. They came in and had a look at Monkey's room. Our friends had washed Monkey's covers (my husband had been blowing air into his stomach when he was doing mouth to mouth so he'd been sick). I know why they washed them but I kind of wish they hadn't. And then we all had another cup of tea. I couldn't believe that at 9.20pm I had found my son, not breathing, and by 12.05 I was home in my kitchen having a cup of tea.

Our friends stayed with us until about 3am. The most surreal moment of the evening was when my husband and friend started discussing how we could block in the window in the living room in so much detail that it was competely absurd. The feeling I had at that moment stays with me. It was so inappropriate except it wasn't. I don't think there's such a thing as 'appropriate' conversation when a child dies so suddenly.

More than anything, I did not want to go to sleep. If I went to sleep, I had to wake up again and then I would have to deal with reality. But eventually my body took over and I slept.


  1. I dont think theres any words I can say other than you are a special lady, a wonderful mother for everything you did for monkey and an inspirational woman.

    Sending big virtual hugs your way.

  2. I am sat in tears, no words, but I am ever so sorry for your loss

  3. The part about leaving him to 'be put in a drawer' triggered the tears. I'm just so glad you are happy now, missing him, but happy. I also didn't really know how old he was. Talking about grief is easier in words, sadly expressing how one feels on reading it seems to be eluding me.

  4. Wow, I don't know you but this has brought me to tears. You write about it beautifully - I'm with IaML - I can't find the right words to say on reading it. x

  5. A heart breaking post. I am so sorry for your loss.Your writing is truly inspirational x

  6. Well, I've had a cry, blown my nose and hugged my children. I am so sorry for your loss. Those words seem totally inadequate. I hope it helps to write about Monkey x