I've become adept at stopping that train of thought.
[Trigger warning: This post includes details of discovering someone who's passed away.]
In 2010, I lost my brother. One day, I woke up and he—didn't. I think about that day alot. That's a lie. I begin to think about that day and just as the details begin to flood in, I squeeze my eyes shut, as hard as I can. I start to hum a song [waking up from the most vivid nightmares], any stupid song [the eerie silence so late in the morning, how unusual for him to sleep in], out loud, I sing [the wretching screams of horror as he can't be woken] and I force it away by replacing what I start to envision [putting my hands on his body and feeling nothing, no warmth, no pulse, no heartbeat] with anything else. Think of anything else. The last banana in the fruit bowl. The film we didn't finish. The half-eaten takeaway I'm yet to clear from the kitchen side. Anything.
I avoid the news. Any tragic headline, the deaths of the innocent. I avert my eyes but sometimes I glimpse a headline I don't want to see. I hate the feeling. I avoid the inevitable sadness in the world because sadness can quickly plunge you into the depths of despair. It can bring out your own tragedy. It can start a ball rolling. It can take you back to the day you want to forget. I think about it now, but I've become adept at stopping that train of thought. I wouldn't be able to live with the grief if I couldn't.
I have been a mother for 5 years, almost to the day. I have rarely spent a night away from them, not an entire day that I can remember. I know it's as normal as breathing to feel protective of them. I know it can be overwhelming trying to keep them safe. I know that I'm no different because I worry. But I know it goes one step further, because of what happened. I'm good at halting that train of thought now. I nip it in the bud before the feelings take hold and become all-consuming. I numb them before they can carry me any further.
Now it's 3am and I'm awake. The silence hits me like a tonne of bricks and I'm vulnerable. I realise my son is at his grandparents and I am unable to place my hand on him and feel the instant relief it brings with each rise and fall of his tiny chest. The comforting pulsing of his heartbeat. Instant peace.
A part of me knows it's why I am afraid to leave them. It's why I co-sleep. It's why I struggled to say goodbye to the monitor. It's why I have to keep them close. That darkest part of me, the part I bury, knows they could slip through my fingers as quickly as sand, because it can happen and I've seen it. One minute he was there and the next he was gone.
I think about it now but I've become adept at stopping that train of thought. I wouldn't be able to live with the grief if I couldn't.