24th September, Mum's 54th birthday (or do you stop counting when someone dies?) passed, just as every other day has. People often say that they hope their loved ones are celebrating wherever they are but I'm not sure I believe in heaven, or an afterlife. I'm not sure I believe that Mum is alive in another world, space or time. I think she's probably just dead. But her spirit and everything she's taught us will live on in us.
I was open minded, but couldn't help but feel that the whole experience would be incredibly awkward. Thankfully, Aly and her co-host, Gina Awad of Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, made it relaxed, friendly and thought-provoking. Here are just a few things I learnt in my two hours discussing all things death, dying and bereavement.
It is clear that mourning and grief are being moved into a digital space. It was happening before developers even realised it; social media became a natural extension of daily life and all its rituals. But what is not clear is if that transition has an impact on the value of those mourning behaviours. Can a virtual candle ever be as meaningful as a real one?
So here we are, hoping for better days, for the grief to ease a little and for the sleepless nights to rush by; but at the same time wanting to press the pause button on my two little miracles. Just stop and live in the moment, breathe in the warm, baby scent of N, and delight in M's transformation into a proud big sister, so independent already but still needing her mummy.
Currently, the three people I would like to reach out to, say goodbye to and make peace with before I die, they have gone before me. They are dead. No more explanations. But I am taking their memories with me into every new day. I am trying to avoid repeats by speaking the truth and asking for the truth, even if I do not get an answer, even if the answer hurts.
I am glad that I have now come to terms with grieving for what my birth could have been, with the healthy baby I could have had. The fact of the matter is I didn't have those things. I still gave birth, my child did come home, I am still a mother but to a heart warrior who I wouldn't change for the world.
Lots of things have happened in the news this week. Lots of things have happened in other people's lives this week. There is a lot of stress, upset and anger in the air. Facebook is a melting pot of unkind exchanges, arguments, and blame. It's not a nice environment to be in and I find myself shrinking away from it and burying myself in other things.
If you want to help Brendan Cox, or any bereaved friend, remember that the pain goes on for them. And on, and on, and on. You can help. Just be there. Take them out, let them cry, realise that they are a newborn trying to find out who they are going to become now that the world has ended. They will remember your kindness (or your stupidity) forever.
The rows of cards all about Dads made him smile and reminded him of Roger, but when I said to him why they were all there he fell silent and look tearful. 'What are we going to do if we haven't got a dad?' he asked me. 'I don't know love' is all I could say, wondering what on earth we would do when the day came around.