Monday, October 8, 2012

I Get It

I don't necessarily feel that you need to suffer in order to empathise with the suffering of others.
However, with every life experience - career,  mortgage, marriage, motherhood ... - I understand my own parents more and more.

Yesterday was my birthday.
Today is my older sister's birthday.
We were born 364 days apart.

My sister passed away before she reached her second birthday.
My parents were twenty years old.
With a six month old me.

Today is not a day of celebration in my family.
It has always been a quiet day of private sadness, watching my parents grieve.

For me, it is a day of questioning.
And some shame when I recall childhood memories.

When I was young, I just didn't get it.

I had questions -
What was she like?
Did we play?
Would my sister and I have shared a room?
Would we have looked alike?
Would we have shared clothes and toys?
Would we have still moved to Australia if she had lived?
Would I still have a younger sister and brother too?

I didn't understand why parents didn't want to answer my questions.

I didn't understand why my parents would have left me to stay with my grandparents when I was such a young baby. Why they didn't want me at that time in their lives.

I didn't understand the level of grief for a baby who I had never truly known.
A baby who had never spoken or played.
A baby whom we didn't even have any photographs of.

I didn't understand the scars that don't heal.

I felt so disappointed each year that my Mum went to bed crying on my birthday, my day.

Spoilt brat.

I still have those questions and more -
Would my sister and I be close now?
Would we live near each other?
Would our kids be playing together?

But now I certainly understand why my parents find these and so many more questions difficult and painful to contemplate, let alone answer.

When Magoo was eighteen months (the age at which my sister died) - I was king hit with the enormity of what my parents lived through.

I was finally aware of how intensely you love your child from the very moment you meet them and how embedded they are in your heart even before their birth - never mind by eighteen months of age.

Last night, after a beautiful birthday and with my own heart brimming with contentment - when the 8th of October arrived - I went to bed crying.

I get it, Mum.
And I'm sorry.



Toni said...

I don't think anyone can reasonably expect a child to understand, chickie.
My kids still don't get it, and that's OK.

Shelley said...

Dont be so hard on yourself Shar. It takes a long time for kids to understand grief, even does for adults. Hugs x

Audrey said...

It's not easy to understand some things when we were still young. It takes maturity over time to look at things from a different perspective.

Jane Hallisey said...

Big hugs.. That must be hard for your parents, but dont be hard on yourself!
Sending hugs your way xxxx

Jane Hallisey said...

Big hugs.. That must be hard for your parents, but dont be hard on yourself!
Sending hugs your way xxxx

Anna @ green tea n toast said...

Thanks for sharing this story Shar. Must be a very hard one to deal with for you all. And like others have said, don't be too hard on yourself. Children definitely can't be expected to understand. xx

Karla {Ironmum Karla} said...

Oh that is so sad, and wow yes hard to fathom. So many differing emotions. Sending birthday hugs from afar. X

Kate Sins said...

Oh Shar, my heart goes out to you all. Happy birthday to you. xx

Mandy Ferry said...

Happy Birthday to you Shar. I can't even begin to imagine. I'm sorry that you can.

Wanderlust said...

What a beautiful post. I can't even imagine such grief. Like the others have said, there is no way a child could understand the complexity and depth of that kind of emotion. I'm sure you were what kept your parents going, kept them putting one foot in front of the other and looking to the future. x

Mama of 2 boys said...

Oh Shar, I don't know what to say. What a terrible thing for your parents to go through... and such a horribly confusing experience for you too, you poor love.
I can relate to what you say here about 'getting it' when it comes to adult matters my parents went through when I was a child. Though granted, we never had to suffer anything as tragic as losing a young child.
I'm so sorry you never had that chance to have all those questions answered and that you even had the reason to ask them xoxo

Jane said...

Oh, sweet darling heart. I get it, too, sadly. My brother died of SIDS aged 7 weeks, just before I turned 2. The 'loss which has no name' is horrid. Big hugs to you, darling Shar. And happy birthday, my lovely friend. Motherhood cracks your heart open, doesn't it? J x PS Call me anytime - I'm home the next 2 days, if you're free.

Fran O'Sullivan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda @ mammajoy said...

How heartbreaking. I'm so sorry. Tragedy is never easy and when we are a child trying to navigate our way through the dark path of grief it's even harder. I can't imagine the pain your family has been through.