If Things Had Been Different . . .
September 1997 I had a telephone call tonight from my friend
Diana, she lives in Aldershot - my home town - and I haven't
seen her since her 40th birthday party in July. We have been
best friends since we were kids at school 27 years ago. We
have shared a lot of laughter and tears over the years, and
have a lot in common. Our marriages and divorces, our jobs,
old school friends, not passing our driving tests until we
were both 34, our birthday's one day apart, but most of all
our children.......except we didn't have that in common. Diana's
children all survived, but she was there for me every time
one of mine didn't make it. We always talk endlessly about
was different, she didn't mention my children - any of them.
She rang to tell me that she was going to be a Grandmother.
She had mixed emotions about it, looking forward to the arrival
of the baby but not sure how she felt about being a Granny.
She is still getting used to being 40. Her son Michael is
a year older than my Steven. A year younger than my Kevin
would have been if things had been different.
would have been twenty one in two days time. I have been wondering
all year if I would have been a Grandmother by now, or would
I be looking forward, like Diana with mixed emotions if things
had been different.
remember how I felt on Kevin's fifth and eighteenth birthdays.
I desperately wanted to go to Liverpool to the cemetery and
be with him. But I didn't go. I just couldn't face it. Then
I felt guilty for letting him down, as if I had abandoned
him. It has been worse since losing Rebecca six years ago
because I live quite near to the hospital where I had her.
I go to the memorial service every year and light a candle
for her, and although I always light a candle for Kevin as
well, (and my other babies), somehow it doesn't feel as if
I am giving him the same attention that I give to Rebecca
and I feel guilty again.
was absolutely determined that nothing was going to stop me
from going this year. But...... here I am two days before
his 21st birthday wondering what to do. I had friends who
were coming with me and now they can't, and I don't want to
face that long journey alone and back again. All those hundreds
of miles and I will not even be allowed to put flowers on
the place where his ashes are buried. (Crematorium rules -
it ruins the grass).
keep telling me that I can go to any church and light a candle
and take flowers, but it still doesn't feel right. Anyway,
what do they know. I only ever went back once, on his first
birthday and that is when I was told that no flowers were
to be laid unless they were in the chapel. I remember thinking
at the time that it would have been so much nicer if I had
been allowed to put them where I wanted. They could have moved
them after I had gone, I would never have known.
family always phone on his birthday, but after all this time
I don't think they realise how much it still hurts. How much
I still miss him and all he may have been. I grieve for those
children that he will never have, and I will never hold. I
am delighted for Diana and her family, and I will also look
forward to the birth of her Grandchild, and I will forgive
them this once for forgetting that I too may have been the
one making that call tonight if things had turned out differently.
I didn't go to Liverpool in September, but this week I had
to go there for a meeting. On the first morning there as we
drive towards Liverpool I realised we were driving past St
Helen's Cemetery and I just went cold. The following morning
before we left to come home I went into the cemetery for the
first time in 20 years. My friends offered to come with me
but I asked them to wait in the car and said I would be alright.......
except I wasn't at all. I starting running across the car
park towards the chapel because it was raining and all of
a sudden it hit me..... I felt as if I was running in slow
motion and twenty years just disappeared. It was as if I was
walking back up the steps on the day of Kevin's funeral and
I just stood there sobbing. I felt that raw emotion again
and then guilt set in because I hadn't been back for so long.
The more I tried to stop crying the more I cried.
wanted to go into the chapel but it was locked. I asked around
for a supervisor or member of staff, only to be told that
the chapel is only open Monday to Friday, 9.00 - 5.30. p.m.
you cannot go in there at weekends. How stupid, the whole
cemetery was packed with people. I found the building where
the books of remembrance are kept - a horrible little round
building, badly in need of decoration and very shabby. The
books are locked up and only open on today's date. Because
no one is working, the case cannot be unlocked and I could
not turn the page. I find it hard to believe that cemeteries
cannot employ weekend staff, surely more people visit at weekends
than during the week. I went to the area where I knew Kevin's
ashes had been put and sat down and cried again. When I went
twenty years ago you were not allowed to put flowers on the
grass..... now the grass was covered in bunches of flowers
and pot plants. At least they have made some improvement.
I really don't know how long I was there and I wanted to go
but I wanted to stay. I was so grateful when my friend Lyn
came to find me and put her arms around me and held me while
I cried for my first born son. It was an incredibly painful
journey and maybe it won't be so bad the next time, but yes
it does still hurt after all this time. You do learn to live
with it and you do learn to ignore the remarks that people
so easily throw around about time being a great healer, and
all the other crass comments about how it wasn't meant to
be etc. etc.
am grateful to have two healthy sons but I will always grieve
for Kevin and Rebecca and my other children who are not here,
and think about what might have been if things had been different.
one years since you were born,
And it seems like yesterday
But 12 short hours was all I had
Before you were taken away
I fell in love with you instantly,
Never dreaming you wouldn't stay
I loved you then and missed you too
All those years ago and still today
For Kevin on his 21st birthday (17.9.76) and Rebecca on her
7th birthday (4.2.91) with all my love always and forever
till I can hold you again