954445_10153643698370106_1930109649_nSo Christmas has been and gone, and we all hope you had a lovely time and enjoyed the festive season with your loved ones with lots of food.   Despite the pain of losing Frankie which is still very acute we had a lovely Christmas being together and were very fortunate compared to some.  Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected in the recent storms that have battered the UK as many have lost their homes and possessions, with more bad weather and flooding to come next week.  We were very lucky as although we didn’t have Frankie with us we had each other, we have our health and we have a roof over our heads.  And for all that, God has truly blessed us.

There are still times when I think about why it had to be my baby, especially when I see women pushing prams, hearing about babies being born and women getting pregnant.  Life does seem so unfair at times, but then I think about what kind of life he would have had if he had been born alive, which would have been an existence, nothing more. He would never have walked, said his first words, gone to school, made friends, played video games or grown up, got married, have children and do all the things that everyone else does.  I have to keep that at the forefront of my mind.

So last week, while I was sat on my sofa watching TV and thinking about him, I realised that I have learnt many things because of Frankie.  I am ending 2013 a very different person than when the year began, and it wasn’t just losing Frankie that made me realise and learn these things, I learnt some of them from the moment I found out I was pregnant with him last May.  Here they are:

You don’t know what is around the next corner.

Life is too short, please yourself and do what you want when you want.

Dump any unnecessary people who don’t make you happy, are toxic and negative no matter who they are or however long you’ve known them.

If what you are doing isn’t making you happy, dump that too.

I learnt who my real friends are, and although I was treated appallingly by people who I thought were my friends this year it taught me that there are people out there who are kind, caring and compassionate, and  they have restored my faith in humanity. People I have met or in some cases haven’t met in person but have met online through various support groups because of Frankie’s existence (particularly the Cleft Lip & Palate Association facebook group) have been nicer to me and more caring and giving than some people who I have known for years who it seemed only wanted to know me for what they could get out of me, and I’m truly honoured and humbled by all the love, support and compassion my husband and I have received since Frankie was diagnosed with a cleft lip and palate, and then subsequently losing him when he grew his angel wings.

I forgave those who did treat me badly this year and when I did I felt lighter than I’d ever felt before. To quote from the Bible, Luke Chapters 23:34, which is something I never thought I would do, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Some of the truest words ever written.

Don’t take anything for granted – not one single thing. I thought I was having a normal pregnancy and a normal, healthy baby boy – how wrong I was.

I am worth something and when my husband and others tell me I’m amazing and that I’m doing some good in the world I actually believe it, without being arrogant and without any self importance.  I’m just me.

My life will never be the same again, and I’ll never be the same person ever again.  I’ve known the worst grief and been through the worst tragedy known to mankind, and that’s given me a depth of understanding and compassion for others that I never thought possible.

Even though I don’t have my son in my arms, I’m a mother and I will be a mother forever.  Nothing will ever change that.

It’s OK to take time out for me, and say no to people instead of yes all the time.  This time last year I was constantly saying yes to everything, every invitation, every event, every meeting, the list goes on.

The little things in life mean so much more than any big, grand, overgrown gesture ever will.

It is OK to cry, and cry, and cry – until I can’t cry anymore.

That hanging onto things for the sake of them, or because I feel it is the “right” thing to do (such as with the Worcestershire Literary Festival) is one of the worst things you can do.

That things done from the heart, like writing this blog and founding Frankie’s Legacy as a charity, are easy and don’t feel like work.

You don’t need a mass of possessions and material things to be happy.  Happiness comes from within, and if you are not happy or happy with yourself without, you’ll never be happy with.

There are some very valuable life lessons in there, and I will always remember 2013 as not only the year I lost my precious son Frankie, but also the year I found myself.   And I found myself because of my son, and what he stood for, and the legacy he left behind.

Frankie wasn’t meant to be on this earth, but his lessons, purpose, memory and legacy will live on forever.