Shared by Jess McCormack - Content Author
Author’s Note: As I write this, he lies sleeping next to me: safe, well, and home.
Blue lights flashing, bright against the white snow, the sky dark, stars visible—although there was no time to look for them. I held my baby tight to my chest, bundled in blankets as I hurried down our driveway. His sister’s cries echoed in the otherwise quiet night, a cry of fear and confusion at our sudden disappearance. My heart was pounding, but I was outwardly calm, whispering to my little boy, “You’re ok, you’re ok,” desperate reassurance for us both.
Coping with Anxiety
Safely in the ambulance, I surrendered a little, allowing some of my fear to spill out into the caring hands of the paramedics. They worked quickly, though in their efficiency there was still a gentleness. I felt safer, but at the same time, I began to realise the seriousness of our situation. I over-compensate, you see. For I am a bereaved mother. I have already had to say goodbye to a child of mine. And so, when her siblings are hurt, I panic. I imagine the worst. I see their death. I freeze. I am silent. And then I quickly pull it back in, knowing I am catastrophising, that just because Maeve is gone doesn’t mean I will lose them all. I hold tight to logic, to rational, measurable thought, a technique that allows me to live with the anxiety that has grown with my grief.
They’ll tell me I’m being silly, to take him straight home;
I am imagining things.”
The Proximity of Grief
These were the thoughts swirling around my mind as I waited for that ambulance to arrive. I was almost convinced that nothing was really wrong. So amidst the oxygen mask and blood tests, machines beeping and the country roads passing at speed, the reality began to dawn and tears began to form. But all I could do was hold him and hope. I kissed my baby’s head, his soft hair on my lips, and I whispered again to him. “My brave boy, my brave boy.”
A little later I lay with him on a hospital bed. Doctors and nurses surrounded us, appearing one by one, asking questions, looking at my baby and making plans. He kept falling asleep. He seemed relaxed, no longer working so hard to breathe. And yet it wasn’t a peaceful sleep, but an exhausted surrender. I held him and closed my eyes and I was back there in my mind, his biggest sister in my arms, in a different hospital, in a different life. The feelings of helplessness, of sadness, and of intense fear threatened to overwhelm me, the memories so vivid, the sounds and smells of a hospital taking me back to that devastating yet beautiful night, to when we said goodbye.
Fear and Love
Such is the life of the bereaved mother, balancing on a knife edge of fear; grief having placed hope in a cage, visible, but so hard to reach. But grief has given me something else too, the gift of a special kind of courage. For I know I have faced darkness and I am still here. Surviving Maeve’s death has given me the indescribable strength of the warrior mama. I will not break. Whatever is to come, I will hold my babies and whisper words of reassurance and love in their ears. I will not fall apart, for I am held together by love. By a grieving mother’s love.