In early June 2019, I came home from hospital without the twins I was expecting. My beautiful son and daughter were born alive, but too small to survive for long.
I can’t find adequate words or phrases – in this language at least – to describe how dark and devastating that sort of bereavement is.
While recovering in the immediate aftermath, we were constantly encouraged to have ‘hope’. But what is hope? I kept hearing that word so often that it became an abstract, nonsense word. And then it irked me.
Looking back over the past year, there are ways to let the light in when the dark suffocates you. You might find them inside yourself, or externally.
Hope is rooted in optimism – and when that evaporates, as it did, grit. Although I’m a naturally optimistic person, it’s really not as if I thought there was better around the corner; I felt not so much like dying, but not being here to exist either. No before, present or after. All I could feel was a sense of moving through time.
Just know that if there’s an imperative within you to keep moving through a dark time, there’s no obligation to do it quickly and certainly not at a speed convenient to other people.
Hope is hidden in self-soothing when the pain becomes too much. It was there after an intense rainstorm… a rainbow, or twin rainbows, reflections of each other, would appear and loom large in the sky. In those moments, I smile. Rainbows can only happen after movement through a turbulent time. That’s why they’re a symbol of 2020 – and also a symbol of new life after loss.
My start to motherhood was the worst it possibly could be, and even now I fend off clumsy attempts to ease my pain or get me to look past it. You see your pain the way you want and need to, and handle it on your terms. Never compromise on that.
My son, born almost a year to the day his siblings were, looks a lot like them, which delights me and breaks my heart in equal measure. I write this after another night of disrupted sleep, which is absolutely normal for me – but so is seeing my baby smile when he wakes up and I say, ‘Good morning!’
Some days, I can float along on a feeling of optimism, and I can project that onto my child. I was fortunate enough to be able to bring another new life into this world, which is certainly a bleak place in 2020. And other days, when I’m moving through the weight of sadness and it feels like all hope is lost, an imperative remains. You don’t have to ‘move on’, but sometimes moving is all you can do, whether it’s forwards, sideways, diagonally. Sometimes it might even be a bit backwards.
Tune into that imperative, and pay attention to it. Grab on to it with all your might.