Written by Sarah, mum of Jasper, for Still Aware.
As soon as July starts, so does the pain and grief of knowing that it has nearly been another full year without Jasper. Yet again the 28thof August is quickly approaching, and this will be his second angelversary, he should have been turning two, we should have had two years of moments and memories and two years as a family – instead, I’m left wondering what could have been.
As his second angelversary approaches I find that I spend most of my time reflecting on so many things – on the pregnancy, on the loss, on the common reoccurring questions which remain unanswered (Why me? Why did this happen to us? Who would you have been? What would you have liked? What would you have learnt? What would you look like?) and I also wonder just how different the last two years would have been, had he been in our lives. There’s a poem that I found not long after I lost Jasper that I really love and believe it sums up exactly what an angelversary is all about:
“Today is the day you went away, The day I no longer knew what it meant to be okay, The moment I lost you, I knew nothing, I heard nothing, I knew not what I was about to go through, Life suddenly felt empty, like my heart was broken and I could no longer see clearly, So today we celebrate your Angelversary, And I dream of the person you would be, We celebrate the memory of you, And how I’ve never known a love more true, I miss you so much my heart aches, But it’s my love for you that grows deeper every day that I know I won’t break” – Author Unknown
I think the lead up to the day is worse then the actual day itself (although because I am writing this in advance it means I won’t really know until I face the day itself) because the mind can be a cruel place and you end up spending so much time in it – thinking, wondering, analysing and dissecting every part and moment of the last two years. I continue to face each day and get through work and life in general and I know that I am here in the world, but at the same time it really feels like I am not (it’s hard to explain unless you have actually faced tragic loss) – time continues to pass, yet it feels like I am frozen in time all at the same time.
I never work on the 28thof August – I just can’t bring myself to do it. The only way that I can get through the day is to know that I don’t have to work, I don’t have to be forced into a position where I feel like I am trying to forget it or cover it up because I believe that would be the worst thing to do. For me, I need the day to be about Jasper and nothing else. I am then free to be able to do whatever I need to do to be able to get through the day – I will start the day this year the same as the last, with a visit to the cemetery – I like to make sure that I am there at his time of birth and I like to stay for half an hour until his time of death. At some stage through the day I will also continue the tradition of watching one of the Transformer’s movies. As for the rest of the day – well that is to be decided at the time, when I am in the moment itself.
I’m not sure if anyone else out there feels the same way as their angel’s birthday approaches, but everyone around you gets to throw birthday parties and gets to celebrate their child/children’s birthdays as a family and you are just left with nothing but emptiness and wonder. You are left feeling so empty and alone and once again like you are someone that no one else around you can relate to. No matter what I do, it is not a day of celebration – instead it is a day of recognising the loss of Jasper, a day of reflecting on all of the missing memories and everything we have missed out on during the previous year and it is a day of recognising the missing piece in our lives. This poem explains what I mean-
The “One Piece”
If a puzzle is missing even a single piece, it is so noticeably incomplete.
As much as we might desire to fill that missing space, only the piece with the precise size and exact shape of the empty spot will properly fill that void.
Not unlike an incomplete puzzle, so too does my heart contain a space.
It is a space with a precise size and shape.
A space that can only accommodate the “one piece”
In all the universe that will fill it precisely.
You my love, are that “one piece”…
I also spend the time in the lead up to the day itself looking back over the last year and seeing what I have been able to do in Jasper’s memory – fortunately this year I can look back on the fact that I have managed to do another fundraiser (and by the time his angelversary comes around another one will be completed, making it two), I have continued to write letter’s to him in my journal, I have continued to write my blogs and I have also done another round of hospital donations. I then think about what I can do in the next twelve months to continue to carry on his memory and legacy. At the same time as being able to reflect on all the good that has been achieved in his memory, it is also very heartbreaking to know that this is all that you can do for your own child.
There are several things that I find more difficult than others at this time of year – one is the fact that it has been another year since I held my son in my arms and looked down on his beautiful face (I really cant believe it has soon been two years since I held him), another is thinking about how much I still have in his nursery (hidden away and covered over with sheets) that I have still done nothing about because I can’t bring myself to do anything but leave them there and close the door, but most of all I think about the simple things that I am unable to do – give him a cuddle, tell him I love him, watch him grow and learn and read him a bedtime story. To some, these little things might not seem like much at all, but to a parent who has been robbed of the chance to ever do these things they hurt the most.
This time of year is also confronting for me because I realise that even though it has been nearly two years of continuing with life without Jasper, it’s daunting to know that there are so many more to go. You are confronted with the knowledge of how much strength it has taken to get to this point and you are left wondering how you will ever continue to find the strength to get through all of the years that still lie ahead of you.
The thing is, no matter how painful this journey has been or is for me at least it has never been painful for Jasper – when I really think about it, he never knew hurt or loss, he was never cold or hungry, he never knew sadness or heartbreak, he never had to face the harsh realities of the world or of life. He only ever knew love in its truest form and that love is what I try to continue to show him every day since he left us. I am still his mother and he is still my son – I can continue to show him (and the world) how missed he is, how loved he is and how wanted he was.
I Don’t Need A Special Day
I don’t need a special day to bring you to mind,
The days I do not think of you are very hard to find.
Each morning when I awake, I know that you are gone,
And no one knows the heartache as I try to carry on.
My heart still aches with sadness and secret tears still flow,
What it meant to lose you, no one will ever know.
My thoughts are always with you,
Your place no one can fill,
In life I loved you dearly,
I death I love you still.