Their 10th birthday was a bitter sweet affair.
We solemnly went to their grave, bringing with us roses in pink and yellow, their colours, along with identical 10th birthday cards.
It was cold and sunny in the grave yard. The weather similar to how it was the day they had been born, 10 years previously. From the little baby garden where too many angel babies sleep, you can see on the hill opposite, rising above the garden no more than a mile or two away, the maternity unit where they had both been born.
It was a miserable scene: two heartbroken parents, clinging to one another as the pain that no parent should ever feel washed over us both. There is no clever or poetic way to describe the way it felt to be at a grave yard instead of a birthday party for two little girls.
It feels like hell.
My Dad suggested that I should be simply grateful for the two I do have on Earth and bear in mind those couples who lose babies and never have any more. He said I should just look to the future instead of past. It was 10 years on, after all.
The problem is, Daisy and Willow are not their sisters replacements. They are wanted and loved in their own individual right. I don’t look at my younger two and think that they are great substitutes for the sisters they never knew. I love Lucy and Bryonie just as much. They deserve to be remembered and loved for themselves. They are the past, but they are the future, too. They are with me in my heart, every moment of every day – in the exact same way as my younger two are. To me, there is absolutely no difference between the children I have that are here on Earth and the other two that are in heaven. A mothers heart doesn’t know how to differentiate like that, we aren’t wired that way.
I do resent the idea that because they are dead they should be forgotten about and cast asunder and left in the past. That is utterly against every single maternal instinct I possess. They are an everyday facet of my life, like their younger sisters. They will never, ever be forgotten or not spoke of; they will live on in everything I do and say.
I have found their 10th birthday much more difficult than the other birthdays they have had. I think it is because it is a mile stone to get into double figures. I always struggle on their birthday – we both do – but we try to look at it in a positive way: this was the day we met them both.
We tend to do something positive with that day, to celebrate the fact we knew and loved those little girls. We go out for tea, or plan something fun for the weekend. Always something cheerful and celebratory.
However, this birthday, we have struggled to see the positive side to things. This year, that miserable chamber of hot, glowing magma erupted within us both. We usually keep the pain in check, but this year, the first time in a long while, we gave in to it. We struggled to find a positive way forwards and we lapsed into tears a few times.
I think people believe that we are like that all the time. That we are crying and beating our breasts with wild shows of emotion each day or at least each anniversary or birthday. We are nothing like that. For the majority of the 10 years since their passing, we have tried to see the good and focus on that. We have buried the emotion and carried on, trying to remember to smile for them.
This year however, we just couldn’t keep up that charade.
I think we needed to get it out. I think we needed to get the pain to the surface and deal with it – face it.
I often resent it when anyone suggests that we either go on about it too much, as though we are purposefully not willing to let go and ‘move on’. Grief doesn’t work that way, I’m afraid. Grief ties you to a post and beats you up daily. It never, ever stops; you simply find a way to mask it.
I am grateful for my youngest two, of course I am, never doubt that – however, I am also grateful for my older two and I will never, ever stop talking about them, saying their names and loving them. Even if that makes other people uncomfortable, even if it makes others get the wrong impression.
Through the pain, through the struggle, through the sadness, we rejoice in the fact that they are our girls and we were very blessed to have had them in our lives.
If you have been affected in any way by the loss of a baby, no matter how recent or long ago, then please visit SANDS:
Freephone Helpline: 0808 164 3332.
Open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-5.30pm and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6pm-10pm.
You are not alone.