I get so far into December thinking I’ve cracked this, that it is getting better.
But truth be told, this year is exactly as it was the first Christmas we had where in order to spend some time “with” her, is to venture in the chilly air, decorate a headstone.
This shit does not get any easier. It is kind of static, but at the very same time it feels worse.
One less set of presents to wrap, although we do buy her gifts, but not in a way other people buy their 4 year old gifts. An ornamental garden snail, or a candle on a metal stake.
I can’t even tell you if she wanted the latest toy this year.
I hate not knowing the sort of person she could have been growing in to.
Once again, just as we have since 2012 braved the cold, we’ve had to pick the right time, to escape the wind and the rain.
It isn’t a place I like to go, it isn’t a place where I want Melody to be either.
Every year I contemplate whether to go or not, but I would feel awful if I didn’t.
Just as I feel like shit when I do.
Her siblings also like to decorate her ready for Christmas.
I wouldn’t force them if they chose not to.
As tradition we like to include her the same week we do our own at home.
Making our way to the cemetery, keeping good spirits, a much as I can.
Feels me with dread, because every single time we go, I have to say hello and good bye really quickly, it’s the goodbyes, the leaving her out in the cold.
Slowly walking around the corner of the chapel, careful of her neighbour, but cautious in case someone else has moved in too. Thankfully not.
Carefully we remove her Halloween decorations, I know how poor of us for not visiting.
Tidy her up, a daffodil plant pot hasn’t survived.
The weather no doubt.
Her toys have remained in place.
In the bitter part of my brain, deep, deep within, I wonder why we bother, it isn’t as if she can play with them.
She died before she ever had chance to play.
Sellotaping tinsel, placing a tiny Christmas Tree covered in fake snow.
That’s her Christmas.
Is it enough?
We cut back on how much we decorate her this year,
it effects us more than the groundsmen or silly kids will ever know,
when things get moved or tossed aside.
Photos of the children together, the only way I can. Of course They don’t all co-operate, but that’s what happens when you have five children right?
Step back and take a moment, and prepare to leave; to once again say Goodbye.
I never could say goodbye to her when she was in the NICU, the word scared me.
It is so final.
As my heart is heavy, we finish our photos, something happened.
A couple visiting a relative of their own, had walked by clutching a reef.
Moments later walked by again to return to their car,
told us how beautiful our girl’s forever bed looks.
To carry on as we are.
The Gentleman offers to take a photo for us, of us all. He didn’t judge, he was insistent on helping us to get a family portrait.
I love pictures, creating lasting memories.
It is important.
It isn’t something we have ever been able to achieve, without one of us lost behind the camera.
Totally grateful to the kind couple’s gestures, we parted ways, and once again we began our goodbyes, our waves and blowing kisses.
Making our way through the tunnel back to our car, the couple were in their car waiting to reverse.
When the lady stepped out of the car, rushed over to us, tears in her eyes, pressed something in my hand.
“Please buy your lovely children some sweets, please don’t say no. What you do is lovely.”
Trying to say thank you, but to not let her, she rushed back to their car, driving off.
Tears rolling down my face.
Strangers, so kind, so thoughtful.
Not only helped to fulfil a rare photo opportunity, but put slight smiles on the children’s faces.
Even they were speechless.
I feel as if I could never thank them enough.
We popped to the shop and brought some flowers, and returned to the cemetery in the hope I could find where they had visited, but for the length of time the had disappeared to when they returned to their car, there were several graves with reefs.
I loosely placed them onto Melody’s grave and asked her to look after them.
No idea if they themselves are bereaved parents,
(our Cemetery is for everyone and not a baby garden)
or simply genuinely kind-hearted human beings.
I, we will be forever grateful, wish we could thank them more.
They’ll never know just how much those moments have meant to us.
* * *
As mentioned we decided not to decorate her forever bed as much as we usually do.
Instead we have been able to make her garden space festive, the space itself is very much a work in progress, we’re really pleased with how it looks this year.
Christmas without her, I have come to realise it’ll never get easier,
and we certainly won’t ever “get over her”.
I don’t want to.
Don’t expect me to.
I Miss Her So Much.