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?
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....