A letter to my little girl from your mom, 8 weeks after you left us – by Simone
My darling Belsie
You are touching peoples lives. I posted my first letter to you on our blog and have had such an incredible outpouring from people. It was my inner most thoughts and feelings, written especially to and for you. And I thought very long and very hard before posting it as to bear your soul to all and sundry like that is really really scary. Especially when you are used to being strong and together and not particularly vulnerable. But the way it has been received by most people has been truly heartwarming. I have been so uplifted by peoples responses not only to my letter but to our blog as a whole. Thank you my treasure child. We continue to get outpourings of love and support from people. And them telling us how much you have changed how they are with their kids. More patient, more involved, more real. I love that. Its your legacy baby girl.
I have been finding it hard to write this month. The words before were flowing out of me with such clarity. And now there aren’t really words, or if there are they feel so muddled. And I guess its actually a perfect indicator of my head space – gray, muddled, confused, unenthusiastic. I feel like in some ways I am starting to move out of the fog I have been living in for the last 56 days, and I don’t like the view on the other side of the fog. Because it’s a place without you.
When I move out of the fog for little bits of time, the pain hits me like a sledge hammer. It’s a deep physical pain that I can’t even begin to describe I miss you so much. I had a complete breakdown one Friday night – which is not a bad thing I guess, it was bound to happen at some stage. I just cried and cried – wailed really – crying is way too much of a gentle term for what I did. Wailed and battled to breath. Your dad tried to calm me and then I think realised he couldn’t so just cried with me. These are all good things I guess, although so so so damn hard to do. I then felt like 500 buses had ridden over me over the weekend and your brother was also very unsettled. I guess he was picking up on my and your dad’s sadness.
Connie and I sit and cry together sometimes. She says that she feels your presence in the house. And so do I. I sometimes think I hear you crying and I want to run to you. And for some brief moments in time I forget that you aren’t with us anymore. It happens sometimes when it’s just Murray and I together and I get lulled into thinking that you are just with your dad and that I will come home and you will be there. And then I remember all over again and it’s like being struck with a punch in the stomach and I want to double over the pain is so real.
I haven’t been able to watch the videos of you in a while as its too hard for me right now. And that scares me because I also want to watch them all the time so that I can’t forget any part of you, so that your memory can’t fade at all. I think of not being able to remember you fully, not being able to “feel” you and I get a tight feeling in my chest. I do have this perfect picture of you in my mind though. You were sitting on the hobby room floor the afternoon before you died in your beautiful Gap dress your Aunty Jus bought you. Your dad walked in and your little face just lit up so perfectly.
I get a type of PTSD reaction every time the phone rings and I see the home number or an unknown number (ADT). I completely panic. Every time it’s like I am living the trauma all over again. And I don’t know how to remedy that. I guess in time it will get easier, I hope so.
I have been to see the grief counsellor a few times now. He is helping me to work through things, him talking more than me at this stage. I am very much still numb, in denial. I still talk about you in the present tense, unwilling to accept that you are gone. And I want to say your name all the time. And I guess that will come in time. But the grief counsellor made me feel that my process, what I am going through, how I am feeling is okay. I also chatted to him about how to deal with people that I come across that don’t know that you died and how to tell them. How to get the strength to tell them. And that was useful too. I haven’t had to do it yet and every time I am in that situation where it might potentially come up I feel a massive amount of panic and I do everything to steer the conversation in a different direction.
And yet, in another way, not being able to say your name all the time, to everybody, is so so hard!!! I went to my first “unsafe” social occasion the other night. Where there were people there that knew what had happened but hadn’t seen me yet. And it made me realize that I am not ready for that sort of thing at all. Even though I had some of my “safe people” with me, holding me together, I didn’t feel strong enough to be there and be okay. The hardest part was having none of the people that knew but hadn’t seen me yet acknowledge what had happened the entire evening. And it is an impossible situation and I am sure that everybody just thought if they said something to me they would “remind” me about what had happened, but the reality is that there isn’t a minute that goes by that I don’t think of you, and having you not being acknowledged was even harder!
Your brother continues to ask for you, going into your room and wanting to get into your cot like he used to do. One of your little friends came to visit the other day and Murray got so so excited. Shouting “Sissie, Sissie” and being so sweet and gentle. And when she was crawling around on the floor, Murray got down and started crawling with her. So beautiful to see and so so hard. My poor child. All of these little milestones that I will never see you reach, all of these simple little things you and your brother will never get to share. I get so so so heartsore when I think of this and the huge loss for our little Murray. We will continue to make sure that we keep your memory alive for him.
Earlier in the month I had a clinic appointment in my diary which I had booked months in advance, and I thought it was for you (it turned out to actually be for Murray). I got the normal reminder sms and it broke my heart. I couldn’t phone them to cancel and so asked your Aunty Carol to do it for me. I just still can’t say it to people that don’t know. I literally feel a pain in my chest that I can’t describe, like someone is pushing down trying to rob me of my breath. I miss you baby girl, more than I will ever be able to find the words to begin to describe. I sit here at my desk, tears pouring down my face, willing you back to us.
I saw some people who also lost their daughter this month. It was good to see people who understand some of the pain we are going through. They are such good people. It gave me some insight into the grieving process. And how hard your dad and I need to work at our marriage and being kind to each other.
Your PopPops and Shelbi have arranged to plant a special yellowwood tree (Podocarpus Falcatus) in the Hogsback Oak Forest for you. It is close to the stream in a very peaceful place. There will be a plaque for you in the Garden of Peace saying “Isabella Lindy Blanckenberg – Our Gentle Light”. The Hogsback was a place that I used to go to when I was very little with my mom and dad and was a special place to us.
My treasured child who I yearn for every minute of every day, I love you so very very much. I will continue to write and speak to you my love (and kiss my tattoo)
Thandi here…Vusi’s wife…He’s been absolutely shattered by the tragedy you’ve gone through. And I wanted to write/communicate but didn’t want to intrude. It’s not like you folk know me at all. Yet I’m compelled to speak up now.
Sometimes parents fear that their children will be forgotten. I can promise you now that that won’t be the case with me. I have this awful ‘ability’ to recall all those who have gone before us and left this sometimes dreary world with an ache. Someone once even told me to stop ‘feeling’ so much, stop caring so much about other people and their tragedies. But then I’d not be fully human, I wouldn’t be me, if I did not ache when others ached.
I ask him every week how James is doing. And he also asks and though it’s so hard, so hard for him, he absorbs and then tells me how you’re doing.
Before my niece was diagnosed with cancer, I had this weird urge to read up as much as I could about childhood cancer. I was consumed with it. i wanted those babies and children to get well. I didn’t want them to die. But they did. And the exact same sentiments I told Vusi you-especially as the mother because the updates were usually written by mothers- folk would feel are expressed in the words in the blog. How sad that you’re all united under such a banner. Every parent’s worst nightmare turned reality. How can that be? How do you breathe?
I know that each time I’ve lost a loved one, I look at the world differently. How can they keep smiling, talking, how can cars keep moving when my world has stopped? It’s like the whole world should be dark, grey…How can people continue as normal when such a monumental and life-shattering event has occurred. How do you go on when you can’t breathe without pain piercing your heart?
But you do.
And that’s just me. I have never experienced this. I don’t know what it’s like. All I know is that the pain and worry I have felt over you all has been consistent. But I’m not even living it. I’m not you. But I’m grateful that you’re willing to share publicly like this. Not for my sake, because I feel like I’m intruding, but for the others in this awful ‘club.’ Because those who live it will know that they are normal. They are normal. Every parents goes through this. i remember even writing in my blog or Facebook page about being grateful to have adopted when so many mothers’ arms are empty and they wish they could have their babies back. I remember one mother wishing she could just claw the sand away from her baby’s grave to kiss her tiny body. How can the world bring such joy and also such deep grief?
Anyway, as I ponder these questions, I have no answer. All I wanted you to know is that you’re always, ALWAYS in my thoughts. You both, your precious boy and everyone else who knew and loved her. But especially you both. In the same way a parent’s love for their child cannot be described and is different to that for another being, a parent’s grief is different too. Unimaginable to me but too obviously raw. As the years go by, may you know…She’s not forgotten. When others might forget, or stupidly think you’ve ‘moved on,’ know that I won’t. I can’t. My innermost soul seems to be drawn to you, wishing I could send my thoughts to you both during the times your pillows get soaked with tears.I just wish I could make the pain go away. But I can’t. All I have to offer are words. Thank you, James, for caring for my husband. It seems so silly to be so bothered by the things he’s going through when you and family are traveling this road. Thank you… The years may roll, you might even stop blogging. But you’ll never be a distant memory. Much love, Thandi Nkomo
Thandi, we are so incredibly moved and touched by your words, so heartfelt, real and true!
The fact that as a “stranger” you have reached out to us with such compassion is really of huge comfort to us.
Thank you for taking the time.
I know that James so enjoys working with Vusi and we hope to get to meet you too.