As I write this, it's the evening of the 30th of August. Previous years, indeed the last decade, this evening is terribly painful for me. This evening, 11 years ago Julie and I arrived at hospital, around this precise time, to find that during the late stages of labour, Tia's heartbeat had stopped.
Previous years, this evening specifically I try hard to hold the pain (and fear and anger) at arm's length.
This year has been different. As each year has always been different. No different bad or different good. Different… peaceful.
Each year, at the least, the last week of August I take off work. I do it so that I purposely have room to grieve, if I need it. This year, I didn't find sadness waiting for me. Nor pain. So instead I found myself sharing special moments with my living children. Of course I'm supposed to do that, but for those parents reading, you'll know that the business of life ploughs forward and there's not always time to stop in the moment.
So instead of bracing myself for this evening and the moments 11 years ago when our world fell to pieces, I feel calm. I know these feelings can change and I know I can't schedule my grief or how I feel right now.
I know grief comes in waves, it can crash hard or the tide can be gentle. But right now, this evening, I'm standing at the shore and I feel it touching my toes as I look out and just appreciate the view.
So with that soft and simple thought, this is my annual entry for myself to look back upon in future years. Below are the flowers we brought to Tia's resting place at Angel's Corner.