When people ask us how we are it’s a very big question to answer. I’ve learned to gauge what they are wanting or expecting to hear and then I have a little think about how I am going to answer. It’s not that I don’t feel that I can’t ask truthfully because I can if I want to. The thing is now we are living life in layers. For the past several months we’ve sheltered ourselves from the world. We’ve always seen folk, but usually within the village and almost always in small groups. We try to minimise putting ourselves into situations which could be unnecessarily difficult. So, for example, we wouldn’t go swimming together as a family anymore because we invariably bump into other intact families that we know at the pool and either David or I are self consciously redundant as we don’t have a second child to look after. Which would be fine if we had never had Oscar but which is not fine when you are used to being a family of four.
“How are you?” can be a question asked by someone behind the counter in a shop or a fleeting comment from a colleague passing by and I have learned that in that instance the answer is “I’m fine thank you” and smile. And that is 100% OK. But “How are you?” can also be a question asked by someone who has stopped to talk and by someone who cares about what the answer will be. So in that instance I just used to share how it was. But now I’ve learned that sharing isn’t always the best thing for me. Because it’s really tiring, and also if you are in a zone where you are actually functioning quite well you don’t particularly want to drop back to reality. This is what I mean by life in layers.
Most of the time in life we can just be ourselves but our ‘selves’ are now split. At one level my answer would refer to how we are managing with our feelings about Oscar, any update on the investigations with the Coroner’s Office, how Holly is coping, that kind of thing. But on another level on some days I can genuinely say that I am OK. Yesterday is a good example of that. On the one hand it was a massive day for us personally. There was a meeting between the consultants at the hospital and we were getting a debrief from the pathologist afterwards. This was the first time that we had been back to the hospital since Oscar had died. It was an emotional drive back there but as with most things in life I have noticed that the anticipation is always worse than the event itself. We had steeled ourselves to be given an indication of Oscar’s cause of death. I wonder if being told why your child is dead is as shocking as them actually dying. I don’t know yet. As it happened more questions than answers were raised during the course of their discussions and so more work streams of analysis were kicked off.
The other layer of life that day was that I was back in the office. So I drove to work and it was fun. It was easy to concentrate on the job and lovely to catch up with my colleagues. It was actually quite a nice break to just do ‘normal stuff’. Then I got back in the car, drove home, closed the front door behind me and was back in our real life.