In my last post, I spoke about how lovely Alexander’s birthday and his BBQ party were. For many of you, you would think that we had a stormy few days and then on Alexander’s birthday, it went back to normal. The lead up was the storm before the calm.
The truth is, it was a hurricane before Alexander’s birthday, and it was a hurricane before the anniversary of Alexander’s Goodbye. The days before the hurricanes were storms. Since Alexander’s birthday last year, every day is a storm. Everything is stressful. Everything seems hard. I don’t have patience, I don’t trust, and I don’t see any good in anything. I went back to work from maternity leave at the end of May. I hated work. Nothing was working and my fixed term contract was ending in a few months. Suddenly I found myself lost trying to get experiments to work, manage students, apply for jobs and every now and again, smile and tell people calmly that Alexander isn’t physically with us when people ask about him. I would then hide somewhere and cry afterwards.
At home, I would snap at Tim and pick arguments with him. At times, we would wind each other up. Generally, we are a team, but we would find ourselves bickering and not even know why it was so important to argue at the time; at other times, we would have massive bust-ups. I don’t remember many of our arguments, but I remember going ballistic once when we were late going to the grave and Tim turned back to pick up some gourmet dog treats for a family dog who we were seeing later (turns out dogs just don’t switch to gourmet dog food). I didn’t understand why making a dog happy was so much more important than making me happy, but it didn’t justify the way I reacted. I have since realised that dogs don’t argue with you. Arguing big and small: this is our norm.
I have also developed an anxiety with crowds which I discovered whilst on holiday recently. I found people put me on edge. Hiding in the hotel room also didn’t work as I also felt anxious alone. The place was also filled with children. School children, pre-school children. Mainly pre-school children and I would spot the ones around Alexander’s age. I am drawn to them like a magnet. I love watching them and on one occasion I remember smiling when two toddlers around Alexander’s age were having a game of walking (and crawling) on the long row of deck chairs guided by their parents. I remember trying to hide my tears. That should have been me, Tim and Alexander. I miss Alexander so much. Tim saw my tears and gave me a hug but that made me feel even more sad. Tim doesn’t deserve this. He’s a happy go lucky guy; always sees the positive in everything but what are the positives now? I also remember a toddler throwing a tantrum and watched in horror as his father pinched his arm which made him cry more. I could barely contain my anger. If he felt 1% of what it feels like to carry your child’s ashes, then I hope he would treat his child better. Or perhaps it’s not his child? The thoughts are endless.
Among the hurt, anger, guilt and doubt that I feel every day, I also feel the love from the memories we have of Alexander. Our memories fill me with pride and joy and then sadness. I think of him all the time, when I am awake, when I am asleep, every day and it is these memories and love that keep me going. Alexander loved us so much and was so brave for us and now we need to be brave too. I have been told that I will get used to this new normal. I hate this new normal. I am a changed person and I don’t like this new person. I used to be positive too, and happy. I’ve always been a bit of a worrier too but now I worry all the time and fear about everything. Watching children makes me smile but they always leave me with sadness. Seeing them is a constant reminder of what we don’t have; Alexander. I don’t have any reassurance that he’s ok; just the belief that he is and for now I will just have to keep believing.
Alexander, are you ok? We miss you very much.