8 1/2 years ago, I walked out of my father and mother-in-law’s house into the sunny street. The light was blinding after so many days sitting in the dark, and it felt like the heat bore deep into my skin, warming me through. I vividly remember my eyes stinging but I wasn’t sure if that was from the sun or the days of tears.
I walked down the hill, past the neighbours washing cars, past the man cutting his lawn, past the dogs barking as they heard my footsteps… and caught eyes with a lady taking a car seat capsule from the back of her car.
…and continued walking.
As I stepped past her I could hear a thumping sound getting quicker and louder in my ears.
The blood rushed away and my head spin was combined with a need to run home or just sit down exactly where I was.
And so that’s what I did.
On the curb.
Like I’d done when I was 8 years old and playing a game with my friends.
As the feeling came back in my legs, the lady came to where I was sitting and asked if I was OK.
I quickly stood up and stifled the need to vomit as I saw her holding her tiny baby….
“How old is she?” I asked eagerly.
“16 weeks.. but she is very little isn’t she… such an angel..”….I nearly vomited again…
“Do you have children”… she asked.
In my head…”Yes but he died! How do you not know?! Why isn’t the world standing still? Can you imagine losing your daughter and not ever knowing why!?”.
I replied..” Yes, 1 Son. He is 4 months old too”.
She smiled, satisfied with my reply, “Oh it’s such a fun age isn’t it…they are just starting to have little personalities…if only she would sleep!” Her baby started crying as she turned back to the house. “I’m glad you are OK!” she said over her shoulder.
I’d never felt more isolated and alone than that moment.
Last week I walked through my local shopping precinct to get some groceries.
I walked past a lady with her baby, an elderly man and a tradesperson in his 20’s.
3 sets of eyes…3 lots of eye contact….3 knowing glances of uncertainty and fear; fear of what life might look like in the months ahead.
It struck me how the feeling was a polar opposite of my encounter 8 years ago. It was a look of “I know. It’s so tough, I’m scared too…” without any words, just a brief smile and nod of the head.
The fear, anxiety, trepidation and all encompassing disbelief was there…completely replicated… but the knowing look and compassionate smile meant I wasn’t alone. They saw me. And I saw them.
You aren’t alone. We see you. And we are going through this together.
The loss and fear is the same that I felt in those isolating months after River died…but this time, the whole world understands…and that gives me hope ????
(As told by Alexandra Hamilton, River’s Mum, & Co-Founder of River’s Gift)
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