I have no name for this

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is about death and loss. Please keep yourselves safe.

One year ago today, one of my oldest friends lost his girlfriend suddenly and silently. His story is not for me to tell, but I remember with sick clarity the moment his text came through that day. I physically felt the blood drain out of my face and I composed my reply with trembling fingers. I’d only met her once, but I thought of her all weekend. Several months later he posted a blog about their love story, culminating in what we only ever refer to as “that morning”, and I sobbed as I read it. I could not – and still cannot – imagine the hell he experienced that day and the heartache he has battled, with bravery and dignity, ever since.

Today I have thought about him and I have thought about that text a lot.

Things have changed now for all of us. Suddenly death doesn’t just come for the old and the very sick; it comes for the young and healthy too, on silent and unbidden wings. Death sneaks around corners and hides behind bedroom doors. It’s what makes me check on my children with just that little bit more care before I go to bed, and what makes my husband ask me just that little bit louder and with a slightly different cadence if I am okay when I’ve fallen asleep on the sofa. When you become a parent, death becomes your ultimate nemesis. You will fight tooth and nail to keep it away from your children, but there’s always that nagging little worry in the back of your mind that it could take you away from them too. I know this happens because it happened to me and, when I got a little older, I watched it happen to my friends too. Through sickness or accident, several of my peers lost a parent during their teenage years. Diseases like cancer creep up silently and leave devastation in their wake. Accidents perform a sickening snatch-and-grab of our loved ones, taking them from us before we even know what’s happening. Both are ruinous and heartbreaking, and neither are easy to survive.

At 17, a college friend of mine and his best friend were killed in a car accident. I’ll never forget that phone call, which came on an ordinary Sunday afternoon and changed everything. I knew, of course, that young people were killed in car accidents. I’d seen the stories in the newspaper, cautionary tales warning teenagers away from taking risks in their newly acquired cars. But it didn’t happen to people I knew. It didn’t happen to my friends and classmates, to someone I’d been making jokes with less than 24 hours before. Until it did. And all of a sudden, none of us were immortal anymore. Probably we were all a little more alert and careful after his death. I was still learning to drive at the time and didn’t get behind the wheel for weeks. It’s been 11 years now since that day, but I still always opt for the easy pass. I am still cautious. Maybe not always as cautious as I should be, but certainly more so than I perhaps would have been otherwise, without that hurtful and unwanted lesson.

On the seventh anniversary of his death, when I was pregnant with O, I went to put flowers on his grave. His best friend is buried beside him and, shortly before his death, his girlfriend had given birth to their son. What hit me and knocked the air out of me that day was that that baby was now seven years old and had written a note for his daddy that said simply “I miss you daddy”. I cried in my car until I thought I would turn myself inside out. Suddenly, it was all too easy for me to imagine how unbearable it must be for a mother to see her child grieving, and I made a promise to my unborn son that day: I promised him that I would never leave him. Of course, it’s a promise that I will one day break. I don’t know when that day will come, but I hope only that it will be when he is grown up and no longer needs me the way that he needs me now. I will do what I can to make sure of that for him, and for his brother too.

Children should not have to suffer the cold grip of grief so young, and it goes without saying that no parent should ever, EVER have to live through the death of their child. I’ve seen this too, with a colleague whose baby was stillborn a few years ago. She talks about her daughter often, and I am always blown away by her strength and tenacity. She, and every other parent like her, deserves the utmost of respect for her sheer ability to go on living through such hell, the depths of which are unfathomable to me. Nobody should ever have to experience that loss.

But sometimes life is cruel. Sometimes the things that happen to and around us don’t make sense at all. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t find a reason for these things or a light at the end of the tunnel. When I think about our future as a family, my only payers are these: Please don’t take my children from me and please don’t take me away from them while they are still young.

Perhaps we all think a little like this sometimes. Perhaps, every now and again, we all find ourselves heading down the rabbit hole. I hope, more than anything else, that we all have someone to reach out to and hold onto in those moments.

Take good care of yourselves.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
My Random Musings
Cuddle Fairy
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34 comments

  1. jaxbest · May 16

    A very touching story. Thank you for sharing. Death is one of those things that we pray doesn’t touch our family. However we aren’t immune to it. Sadly! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 17

      It’s hard to look at death philosophically once you have children. You have this overwhelming sense that it’s never okay to leave them. Or, at least, I do. X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Trishawna · May 17

    Wow this was a very deep post. I thank you for posting it. Not many people talk about the harsh reality of death and loosing someone we love and dealing with grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 17

      I think it’s something that so many of us struggle to talk about. It’s hard. Losing people is so hard. Thank you for your lovely comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lauracharlie1988 · May 17

    Death is hard. I lost my mum suddenly at 19 (ovarian cancer) and since then I’ve been utterly terrified of losing people or of them losing me. Having Eden has made that a million times worse. Raising her without her grandmother is a part of my every day life and I regularly think about how mum would have been – how different things might have been if she was still here. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 17

      Losing people is really hard. I lost my last grandparent last year and I found that particularly hard because it was my gran and I was really close to her. I worry about leaving my children probably more than I should do, but I would hate to put them through that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 17

      And I’m so sorry about your mom. X

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat · May 17

    This makes me thing of a dear friend who passed almost three years ago now. She was only a few years older than me, not yet 30 at the time, had two beautiful daughters, was just about to move away from a difficult place and into her own home, she then caught bacterial meningitis, was in a coma for nine days and died. Even now i’m still shocked and heartbroken that her children won’t have any physical memories of her. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 17

      What an awful shock that must have been for everyone who loved her. And how sad for her daughters. I’m sure their family will make sure their mom lives on and tell them frequently how much she loved them, but it’s not the same San it’s heartbreaking.

      Like

      • Kat · May 17

        Sadly, she was trying to escape the father, who now has the children full time, at one point even stopping her parents from seeing their grandchildren, and threatening to move them away. I think that’s what makes it so, so sad.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Motherhood IRL · May 17

        That’s awful. Why is life so hard sometimes?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kat · May 17

        I know! 😦

        Like

  5. Julie S. · May 17

    Powerful post here. Death is so sudden, and really seemingly unfair, and yet the only thing that is truly certain in life.
    We really do need to hug our loved ones close because we have no guarantee of tomorrow.
    #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 17

      That’s actually something my friend said in the Facebook post he made when his girlfriend died. You don’t realise how true it is until something like that happens.

      Like

  6. Such a moving and powerful post. Death is something that we don’t really tend to think much about until suddenly it hits home by coming to someone close to us, and even more so if it happens so suddenly to someone young. I can really relate to the way you check your children more closely and your husband’s concern if you fall asleep on the sofa. My eldest daughter has a complex congenital heart condition and I know that it’s more likely that I’ll outlive her than the reverse which is a horrible thought to live with and the fear of losing her (and her younger sister who is heart-healthy) is always there at the back of my mind. The only good thing is that it has forced me to live for today, to enjoy the moment and make the most of now because you really don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m so sorry
    to hear about the loss of your friends and your friend’s girlfriend, but thank you for sharing such an honest and emotional post x #BloggerClubUK

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 18

      I can’t imagine how you live with that fear every day. You must be a much stronger and braver person than I. Thank you for much a lovely comment and for sharing your thoughts. X

      Like

  7. What a beautifully written post. It’s really touched me, thank you for sharing it. I have always tried to live my life letting the people I love and care about know exactly how I feel for them because I am scared that one day something will happen to one of us and I would be so devastated if they didn’t know how much I care. I also lost a school friend at the age of 17, I wasn’t particularly close to her but it was such a shock to all of us and a stark reminder that life is short. #BloggerClubUK

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 19

      I feel the same. The people around us need to know how important they are to us, just in case. I would hate to leave room for doubt in my wake.

      Like

  8. madelinelittlejohns · May 19

    I read this with tears in my eyes, it all seems to hit you even harder once you become a parent doesn’t it. x #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 19

      Absolutely. I’ll never forget how I felt that day in the cemetery. Of course it had occurred to me before, but not like that. The way it hit me that day was almost unbearable. X

      Like

  9. bridiebythesea · May 19

    This is such a moving story – thank you for sharing this. I too have found that since becoming a mum, death has a different meaning for me. I also had a friend die unexpectedly this year with brain cancer and it was just heartbreaking to realise that life is so so precious. Wonderful post xxx #KCACOLS

    Like

    • Motherhood IRL · May 19

      It’s so hard to lose people, and when they are young it’s that much worse. I’ve never really been able to talk to N about it because he has never lost anyone, so I suppose that’s why I wrote this in the end. And I have been fortunate enough to receive a lot of thoughtful and supportive comments, like yours, that have made me feel less alone. X

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The Speed Bump · May 19

    Very very touching, thank you so much for sharing. A couple of years ago, one of the girls in my primary school who’d looked after me when I was there (she was a few years above me) died in a car accident. She was 22. It absolutely shocked me, it was my first experience of death in someone my own age (I lost my brother when I was 3, but I was too young to really understand at the time) and now as I’m coming up to 22 it makes me think about mortality a lot. #KCACOLS

    Like

    • Motherhood IRL · May 19

      Even now, even after 11 years, I still worry every time I get in the car for a long journey that we won’t reach our destination. It’s ridiculous, and it means that I dread driving any great distance, but it’s just what I’ve been left with.

      Like

  11. Wow a powerful and emotional post!! I know exactly what you are saying and relate 100%. I had a friend at school. She was my best friend when we were about 7 to 14 years old. Then we kind of moved on and kept being friends but not that close anymore but every time that we saw each other again after we finished school was like if we were back to those years. I was also very close to her family too, especially her mum. One day, on a Sunday morning back in 1997, I got a call from another friend telling me that my one day best friend had a car accident and died! She was 21 years old! I’m actually feeling so emotional just typing this now. I didn’t think or understood about death until that particular moment. It really hit me. I still have sometimes dreams or even nightmares about it. Every time that I see her mum it is so hard as she remembers us when were at that age being good friends. Since then I’m always so careful about driving and life in general. I don’t take life for granted and I always know that death can hit us at any moment so we should appreciate and live every moment. I really like your post. It brought me all those memories back but it was good to reflect about it after so many years. I’m so sorry to hear about those losses. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOL. I hope to see you again tomorrow, 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 21

      Thank you for sharing that with me. It’s so hard, isn’t it? Such a painful lesson to learn. I think about my friend often and sometimes I even think I see him in the street. Somehow it always jolts me when I remember that he isn’t here anymore. I wonder about what he would be doing with his life and if he would be married and have children. It still causes a physical ache to think that he never got to have those things. I often tell myself that I am lucky, because even if I was to die tomorrow, I have had another 11 years since he died and I have known the love and joy of having children. X

      Like

  12. beautybabyandme · May 23

    Wow! What a powerful post – thank you so much for sharing something so deep and personal. I am so sorry for your losses; it is so scary to think no matter how much we wrap our kids, or ourselves, in cotton wool, you just don’t know what is around the corner. We must make the most of every day. Lots of Love xx #candidcuddles

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 23

      Thank you, sweetheart. I think we would go crazy if we knew what was to come, but equally so it’s hard sometimes to make the best of every day for one reason and another, isn’t it? X

      Liked by 1 person

  13. mumzilla · May 23

    I just found out that someone I respect and admire very much has been fighting cancer for the past two years. Her sons are teenagers, but both are disabled and one severely so. I am so angry, and it’s so unfair. I feel helpless, but I think her being able to tell me has helped in some minute way. It’s recently gotten worse, but I have faith that she can beat it because she’s a fighter. I hope so.

    Like

    • Motherhood IRL · May 23

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this! This must be so hard for her and for everyone who loves her. I will be thinking about her – and you – and I hope she comes through. X

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Becky, Cuddle Fairy · May 23

    I’m sorry for the losses you have suffered. They are all so tragic & from such young people. You are right – the death of someone young puts life in perspective & makes you work a bit more. It’s certainly very worrying already as a parent & yes it is the greatest fear. Thanks so much for joining us at #BloggerClubUK x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Annette · May 27

    Such a thought provoking post, and I am sorry that you have had to experience these losses. We have had some very close family losses since Little Button was born, it’s hard not to worry, but it’s made us even more for – living life as full as possible. Thank you for joining up on #Candidcuddles

    Like

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