Eight months down the line I am thinking about how we survive. The first thing that I always cling onto is the hope that you cannot imagine your future. By which I mean for David and I our lives were completely different eleven years ago – we hadn’t met yet. They were unrecognisable from now five years ago as Holly was not born yet. And of course a year ago we were a very content complete foursome. My hope is that our lives are similarly entirely different in one year, five years and eleven years into the future. It’s not that we will have a new content complete because that is now impossible but if we work hard it could be something new.
The other principle that we are working on is that our life absolutely has to be different. We can’t leave it the same as it was before Oscar died because the gaping void that he leaves behind is too obvious. With our different life the void that Oscar leaves behind in our lives is no less but hopefully David and I can feel that we have learned something from having had him in our lives. Without change remainder of our lives feels unimaginable. Intolerable. But if we do things differently, have adventures, take risks, be worthwhile then maybe that generates a life that is worth living.
The meaning of that life is something that we think about a lot. What on earth is the point of this life? Why are we all here? What is it all for if it can be destroyed in a flash? The only answer that we have settled on so far is that life is not about the milestones; being born, getting married, having kids… losing your child. But it is about the journey.. how you join those dots together. The experiences that you accumulate together. And that’s why a sense of perspective is perhaps so important. Think of the days or weeks or months or years that you waste worrying about work. Or stuff that needs doing at home – and it just doesn’t matter. Nor does the weather, or traffic jams or even the trials and tribulations of bringing up kids. The weather is the weather. You can’t control the traffic and children do what children do… there’s no point grumbling about a new baby sleeping through or teething or the temper tantrums of a toddler – it is just life. It’s quite liberating and probably the one feature of my new life that I do hope will last. Only worrying about problems or situations that I can actually affect myself.
I hope that I am more tolerant now. I definitely try to be. There’s a cool Dr Seuss quote that makes so much sense – basically saying how all of us are weird. And looking at the rest of the world through that lense helps me to remember that we are who we are. Without a doubt David and I are constantly kinder and more tolerant of each other and our own foibles.
The other concept that we are much more conscious of now as we try to cope with another day without Oscar is that of mindfulness, of being in the present. Without that everything is too hard to deal with. Too tragic. Too incomprehensible. But if we break life and the experiences that we are having into pockets then it becomes manageable and it enables us to laugh or enjoy something. It’s not like we are thinking everything is fine because it is not, but to be able to appreciate good company, a tasty meal, something that Holly is doing… all of that is goodness for us.
We have been thinking too about what we find most difficult. Beyond the obvious challenge of surviving without our son which we may eternally wrestle with. For me it is all about recognition. At home it’s fine. Everyone we work closely with or spend any time with knows that has happened to us and generally treats us differently. Whilst I can pretend that I am normal infront of a customer I can’t do the same in a social situation or amongst people who know me. For the moment I feel like I need to wear this badge which explains what has happened to us. I totally know it is not the rest of the world’s problem and that every family has their own challenges. David points out that people simply do not have the capacity to allow themselves to think too much about what has happened to us. In time that is something that I will need to resolve for myself. David’s point here is that we should define ourselves by what we do, what we achieve and how we choose to live our lives moving forward rather than what has happened. That’s going to be easier said than done.