This is a stream of thought that I need to get out of me, and on to my personal blog. I apologise if it rambles, and I apologise if it's a bit too raw. I don't know who this is for other than me. But I wanted to put these thoughts here, today.
I turned 32 fourteen days after Tia came into our lives. For those new to my blog, Tia, our first born, died during labour on 31-Aug 2010. She was full term, Julie (my partner) was in labour, and somewhere between labour and getting to the hospital, Tia slipped away.
It's coming up to 8 years on. She would have turned 8 this month. Our first born, our little girl. The big sister to Ellis and Seren. But she didn't. She doesn't.
8 years on and it all feels so recent. Especially in August. I remember a lot of the details from that day. Only because I had written it down in a private journal, so that I wouldn't lose my precious pain to grief's ability to wipe memories.
8 years ago I remember coming home to our empty house. A very different arrival than the one we had dreamt of. Julie and I wedged ourselves into the corners of the rooms, trying to escape the vacuum around us that wasn't filled with new life.
8 years ago, we crawled into bed for the first time since our life was completely derailed. I had a photo of Tia on my phone, and I propped it up against my bed so that I could burn her image into my memory. I didn't want to close my eyes or look away in fear that I'd somehow let go of the reality that Tia was once with us. As much as I wanted it to all be a terrible dream, I could and wouldn't deny Tia's pain in our lives.
I cried, painful and heavy tears as I tried to keep my eyes open, burning the photo into my memory. Julie and I squeezed together under the blankets in the hope that we'll have something to hang onto as the bleak darkness of grief pressed down on us.
When I awoke, my eyes were sore from crying in my sleep. My mind was muddled with morning grogginess and the feeling of some terrible truth was deep down inside of me, before the realising horror of what had happened flooded back. Julie and I called that day, "Day One".
Those 8 years ago, for many more mornings, days and nights, I howled with grief. A deep cry, painful and physically heavy on my chest and heart. Long and hard. "Day Two", "Day Three" and so on.
It was crushing. But that crushing pain was the only thing I had that was really real. I feared the day that it wouldn't hurt, the day that I would somehow smile again, or laugh again. If I could smile, then what did that mean? Had I betrayed Tia's memory? How could I possibly smile alongside such all encompassing grief?
I don't know when we forgot to name the days, but it happened eventually. One day it wasn't "Day X". Our grief was still there, but it was changing shape.
8 years on, I still don't know how I can exist without Tia and smile or laugh. These feelings have no real way of existing together inside my mind.
I don't know that I survived that time insomuch that I learnt to just live with Tia's absence in our lives. There's definitely something missing inside of me. A hole that leaves me incomplete. I've had to build my life up around that hole, embrace her absence, accept that she's part of who I am, even though she's never been here. Counselling helped. Always talking to Julie, always.
Sometimes it, "it" — Tia dying, her stillbirth, our 3 children that are 2; it still surprises me that I'm living that life. It catches me out at times, during some idle moment, it sneaks up on me. This kind of thing should never have happened.
Sometimes it feels like some story I heard, some terrible tale, and then I remember that tale belongs to me, and for a moment I'm confused: how? How could this be my story?
But then, life, my life, trundles on. My kids, the ones full of life, move me forward. They know Tia. They know she would have been 8. I kiss her photo goodnight each and every evening. I fantasise about the day we can turn back time and change things. I've fantasised about having all three kids running riot around me and Julie.
But it's just time that moves me forward. I'm not healed, I just carry on carrying my pain, loss and sadness.
And I carry on treasuring the little girl that I can't hold and can't tell happy birthday to, and can't tell that I love her.