My precious son in heaven, today you are 14 months old. It feels like only yesterday that the midwife was telling to push and to push hard, and at 4.43am on Friday 29th November 2013 you were born and placed on my chest. Despite having an epidural and being so very tired from being in labour for nearly 48 hours with no sleep at all, I was suddenly wide awake and I willed you to open your eyes or to cry. As much as I wanted you to do both, I was so heartbroken because deep down I knew you wouldn’t do either. You had passed away inside me, and you were born a few days later. I will treasure every second and minute that I had with you before I had to do the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, and that’s walk away from you carrying a memory box instead of you in my arms. It felt so very wrong.
I had been waiting for you ever since I was 28 years old. You only know your Daddy, but I tried to have a baby with my ex-husband who you don’t know. I had six early miscarriages with him over many years, and then we split up and divorced. But I got together with your Daddy, who made me and who still makes me so very happy. We got married on April 6th 2013, and on May 14th 2013 I found out I was pregnant with you. We were so very happy to see those 2 lines on the pregnancy test and see it turn positive straight away. I have never been so happy as I was then in all my life.
Still, there were many milestones to cross and I crossed them all, until they told me you had a very severe cleft lip and palate at a scan I had at 23 weeks. I was so shocked at first but once I understood what it meant for you and the operations you would have, I was fine. But more was to come when I was 28 weeks pregnant and they told me you had talipes and they weren’t sure whether it was positional or not. But we were still prepared for you and wanted you so very much. We would have gone through anything.
The day I was told you wouldn’t be coming into this world was the worst day of my life. I wanted him up there to take me instead of you, to give you life and let me die. I’d had a big chunk of my life, but you hadn’t had any. You deserved to live more than me.
Organising your funeral and carrying your tiny coffin into Worcester Crematorium was another of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. As the song “Let Me Go” by Gary Barlow played, the red curtains were slowly closed and at that moment I had to say goodbye to you in this life forever. After your funeral we had another bombshell when we were called to see geneticists at Birmingham Women’s Hospital following tests that were done after you were born. You had two copies of chromosome 15 they said, which meant that you didn’t just have a severe cleft lip/palate and talipes, you would have been very severely mentally and physically disabled. They said you would have had severe learning difficulties, seizures, you wouldn’t have walked, you may have been non-verbal, you would have had severe autism as well as all the operations you would need for your cleft lip/palate over your lifetime. You would have had no quality of life at all, and your Daddy and I would have had to care for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365/366 days a year. It was so much to take in and I screamed, “why him”. Why did it have to be you, my precious boy? Why?
Despite all this, your Daddy and I have tried our very best to keep going Frankie. We created Frankie’s Legacy in your memory, and it was very successful indeed. But your Daddy and I were working so hard, and to the detriment of anything and everything else. We were so tired, and we have endured so much else since you went to heaven. I’m sure you are with your Grandad Allan, your third cousin Brenda and your second cousin Tony up there. They all left us last year, and every day has been a struggle ever since. Not only that, but your Mummy and Daddy were both made redundant last year. We were betrayed by people who we thought were our friends. I have lost another 4 of your brothers and/or sisters in less than a year when I was only 5/6 weeks pregnant. The specialists say I have hyper fertility which is treatable, and you developed because the conditions in Mummy’s womb were just right for that one month so that you could develop and grow. And develop and grow you did! I loved feeling you kick inside me, singing you songs and nursery rhymes and telling you about all the things that we would do together when you grew up. I never considered for a second that I wouldn’t have you with me.
Since we lost you your Daddy and I have had nothing but death, loss, death, loss, death, loss in our lives. It has been relentless. Do you remember the last fundraising event we did for you on your 1st birthday? It was such a hard day to get through, but we did, and then your Daddy and I decided we would do our best to go forward, be positive and enjoy Christmas. I woke up on December 1st feeling more positive about the future than I had in a long time. But that was short lived, because later that day I found out that your second cousin Tony had passed away from a heart attack. He was only 57 and left behind his wife and your second cousin Luke, and your Great Uncle and Aunty Vincenzo and Michaelina, his parents, who are in their 80’s. Just as it wasn’t right and fair that you left us, nor was it right and fair that Tony had left us. I had to see his parents bury him, just as I had to bury you, and it is something that no parent should ever have to do, no matter what the age of their child.
Somehow we found a glimmer of strength to keep going, but we were so tired and had suffered so much we had to put everything on hold. During that time things started getting better, but slowly. Mummy has been having bereavement counselling, and Frankie’s Legacy is going to merge with another charity called Towards Tomorrow Together. We were slowly killing ourselves in your memory Frankie, and we know that you wouldn’t want that.
Remember when we watched the film Titanic together? You were in my tummy and you were seven months old. I talked to you through the film, telling you that Titanic was one of Mummy’s all time favourite films, that she had seen it at least 11 times at the cinema in 1997/1998 when it was released and how to this day she still loves to see this film. You kicked all the way through, and I so loved feeling you kick away inside me.
Do you remember the last scenes at the end Frankie? Titanic has sunk, but Jack has found a piece of driftwood and he made sure that Rose was on it. When he tried to get on it, it started to sink, so he kept Rose on it and stayed in the freezing cold water. Screams of help were heard everywhere from those who had gone into the water, eventually the screams stopped and you knew it was because those screaming were overcome by the cold, icy water and had lost their lives.
Jack is trying his best to stop Rose from closing her eyes, and he keeps talking to her. As long as I live I will never, ever forget this quote from the film:
Jack: You must do me this honour. Promise me…that you will survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now Rose, and never let go of that promise.
Rose: I promise.
Jack: Never let go.
Rose: I’ll never let go Jack. I’ll never let go.
This is my promise to you Frankie, now and forever. I promise you that somehow, someway, I will survive. I will never, ever give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Despite everything that has happened, despite all the death and loss that your Daddy and I have had to endure, I will go on and live my life to the absolute fullest that I can.
Do you remember the very, very last scene of Titanic Frankie? The one where Mummy was crying her eyes out, like she does at the end of the film every time she sees it? Old Rose is lying in her bed, and her eyes are closed. It looks like she has passed away, and the camera pans out to show a montage of photos in frames. They are of Rose ice fishing, flying an aeroplane, riding a horse, and there is one of her where she looks like she is a film star. Those photos show that she never broke her promise to Jack, she lived her life to the full, and I will never break my promise to you. When I die, I want to die like Rose, an old lady warm in my bed, surrounded by photos of myself and your Daddy living our lives to the full.
I know you won’t want us to mope. I know that you will want me and your Daddy to go on and live our lives to the full. We have been sad for so very long Frankie, ever since we knew you had left us and every time we started to pick ourselves up a bit, we lost someone else in our family who we also loved very much. We’ve had so much death and loss to deal with and it has taken us this long to get back to where we are now. Believe me we aren’t anywhere near where we were, and I don’t think we will ever be there again. You are in our hearts every second of every day, and you always will be. But while you are in our hearts every second, we will do you proud by living our lives to the full…and never, ever giving up. I promise we will be up there to look after you when our time is due, meanwhile, your Grandad Allan, your cousin Brenda and your cousin Tony will look after you until we can get there to be with you forever.
With all our love, now, forever and always,
Your Mummy and Daddy on Earth xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx