Blog posts are a bit like buses – you wait two weeks then two come along at once. Jenny and I both find writing about Elijah and the aftermath of losing him cathartic. We come at things from different perspectives, so it is worth reading on, even if you have read Jen’s post from yesterday.
It’s a month today since Elijah died. On Sunday, it’ll be 37 days – the same amount of time he was with us. It’s not right to say the time has flown, more that it has disappeared. I find weekday mornings seem to vanish – I take the big boys to school and nursery at about quarter to 9 and suddenly it’s 11.30 and Amos needs collecting from nursery.
“The big boys”. There’s a phrase. When Jen’s uncle Matthew came to visit Elijah in hospital, he picked me up on referring to Jonah & Amos as “the boys”, pointing out quite rightly that Elijah was one of the boys too (Matthew being the youngest of three boys himself could empathise). After Matthew’s intervention, I started making a point of referring to “the big boys”. I wonder for how much longer I’ll continue to do so.
It’s not quite fair to say the time has not flown. Our holiday in the North York Moors last week did seem to zoom by. We had a really good week. But then our situation would hit us. We shouldn’t have been on holiday, we should have been sitting next to Elijah’s incubator or maybe he wouldn’t have got NEC and we’d be making preparations for him to come home in a few weeks or maybe Jenny would still be pregnant. Or maybe we’d have lost him at 14 weeks when Jenny had her first bad bleed. Or maybe he would have never been conceived. While it’s not where we want to be, I’ll take where we are over the latter two possible worlds.
The day before we went on holiday, we went to visit Elijah’s grave. Elijah is in the woodland burial area at Wisewood cemetery. At his internment, I noticed a hole in the fence very near his plot and that there’s a footpath on the other side. A few days after the funeral, I got out the OS map and realised we could probably do a walk along the River Loxley, visit Elijah’s grave and get a bite to eat and a pint of Farmer’s Blonde (half a lemonade for the big boys) at the Nag’s Head. We tested my theory out on that Friday. The Nag’s Head does a pie (or fish and chips) and a pint for £6 – bargain. Family well fed, we had a lovely walk along the river and then snuck through the gap in the railings. The big boys reaction upon arriving at the plot was so natural and moving. They both squatted down and Amos asked “Are you OK Elijah?” We’re happy with our decision to have Elijah buried there and with how well it’s worked out. We can walk along the river and through the trees and feel close to him. Talk about letting your standards slip. Our baby died but at least we found a nice place to walk and decent pub.
At the eulogy I gave at his memorial, we both spoke of many of the positive things to come out of the experience. Despite how terrible things can seem at times, those positives matter. We had a letter from Action Medical Research acknowledging receipt of over £900 in donations towards the fund set up in Elijah’s memory. The Individual Giving Manager had also found this blog and noted that Elijah was taking part in the Dove Study that Action Medical Research is funding. They are hopeful that Dr Andrew Ewer and his team will make a breakthrough in the next couple of years. Too late for our baby, but I do so hope it will make a difference to others. Even if it turns out to be a false dawn, I’m happy that we are supporting this sort of research in Elijah’s memory. As Einstein famously said: If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Friends (and in some cases strangers) continue to tell us that they think of Elijah when they are giving blood, or that Elijah’s story has motivated them to make an appointment to give blood. Not only are we comforted a little by the knowledge that Elijah, despite his so short life, can make a difference, it reassures us that he will not be forgotten. I think that’s one of my greatest fears: as time passes other people, or even I, will start to forget him.
This is not the blog I wanted to write. When I started writing about Elijah, I thought it would be about the ups and downs of life in hospital before Elijah came home. Until he got NEC, I never seriously considered that he might never come home. I’m so glad I started writing as it helps me to remember.