Thursday, 11 March 2010

Why Monkey died

I wonder, if you read this, if you have ever wondered why Monkey died. It's a difficult question to ask, I know. In the last two and a half years, only one person has asked me why. I understand that, I don't think I'd ask someone. But I kind of think you should. Otherwise, where does the conversation go next?

You: How many children have you had?
Me: 3

Interlude: By the way, ask me how many children I have and I'll say 2. I hate it, I feel a bit like I'm denying Monkey's existence, but I feel I should answer the question you have asked me. Otherwise I'm drawing you into a conversation that will make you (and me) feel awkward and you hadn't even asked. Ask me how many children I've had and I'll nearly always say 3. Giving me an opportunity to mention Monkey's name. However difficult (for everyone) I need to tell you so I can believe that, once upon a time, he was here.

You: How old are they?
Me: Pickle's 3, Wotsit's 18mths, unfortunately Monkey died a couple of years ago.
You: Oh, I'm sorry...

What comes next? Often, nothing. Sometimes, something reasonably inane 'did you see that programme last night on telly'. But only once, 'I'm sorry, what happened?'.

The answer 'I don't know'. Really unsatisfactory. There are two shools of thought.

He had a major epileptic fit which was so severe, it turned him over and stopped his heart beating. This is the school of thought I like (if it's possible to like any of them). Quick and painless AND nothing I could have done to prevent it.

Alternatively, he rolled over onto his front, something he'd never done before. Something he could probably only have done by kicking his legs a lot because he was uncomfortable (which he was when I left him). Face down on his pillow, he could not move and could not breathe. Now you can see why I prefer the first option.

During that first week, I spent some time with my head in my pillow to see how it would feel if I couldn't breathe. Hard to say, as self preservation kicks in pretty quickly when you have normal use of all your limbs.

Surely they'd do some kind of post mortem so then we'd know? No. I'm not really sure what happened here. I honestly think someone was trying to spare us the pain of perhaps identifying school of thought number two. We assumed there would be a pm. That's what they said at the hospital. When we (my husband) spoke to the Coroner on the Monday (Monkey died Friday night), he said that a pm was unlikely to be conclusive as Monkey's brain damage was so severe, they wouldn't be able to see very much. We accepted that. It was a good thing in that it meant that we could get on with funeral arrangements (we needed something to do) and Monkey could be left in some kind of peace.

His death certificate states the primary cause of death as 'aspiration pneumonia' and the secondary cause as 'complications arising from cerebral palsy'. As someone who goes to reasonable lengths to be truthful, I found this quite difficult. The way I write about it, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'd like to know, that I need to know. But I don't, it doesn't change anything. Monkey's still gone.

So, on second thoughts, maybe it's better not to ask....


  1. Oh my I guess that was such a hard post to write. My neice's little one died from complications arriving from CP when he was 7 months old and he was and has been her only child. She got the vicar to read a poem at the funeral and it made me sob my heart out and it still does
    What Makes A Mother

    I thought of you and closed my eyes
    And prayed to God today
    I asked "What makes a Mother?"
    And I know I heard him say
    A Mother has a baby
    This we know is true
    But, God, can you be a mother
    When your baby's not with you?

    Yes, you can he replied
    With confidence in his voice
    I give many women babies
    When they leave it is not their choice
    Some I send for a lifetime
    And others for the day
    And some I send to feel your womb
    But there's no need to stay.

    I just don't understand this God
    I want my baby here

    He took a breath
    and cleared his throat
    And then I saw a tear
    I wish I could show you
    What your child is doing today
    If you could see your child smile
    With other children and say
    "We go to earth to learn our lessons
    of love and life and fear
    My mummy loved me so much
    I got to come straight here
    I feel so lucky to have a Mum who had so much love for me
    I learned my lessons very quickly
    My Mummy set me free.

    I miss my Mummy oh so much
    But I visit her each day
    When she goes to sleep
    On her pillow is where I lay
    I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
    And whisper in her ear
    Mummy don't be sad today
    I'm your baby and I am here"

    So you see my dear sweet one
    Your children are okay
    Your babies are here in My home
    And this is where they'll stay
    They'll wait for you with Me
    Until your lessons are through
    And on the day you come home
    they'll be at the gates for you

    So now you see
    What makes a Mother
    It's the feeling in your heart
    It's the love you had so much of
    Right from the very start
    Though some on earth
    May not realize
    Until their time is done
    Remember all the love you have
    And know that you are
    A Special Mum

  2. PM can do more harm than good sometimes I think so I'm pleased that it worked for you guys for there not to be one. Thank you for sharing that with us. No doubt Monkeys looking down over you watching you and supporting you :)

  3. I am with you on never knowing how to answer that question. To leave Goldie out seems like a betrayal of her memory; to include her and thus her story can feel like an invasion of my own.