My darling Isabella Lindy Blanckenberg
2 years today, at 7.5 months old you left our world and in doing so irreparably changed our life forever. When you entered our lives you changed them for the better, and when you left it it shattered everything we knew. We were broken down to our bare bones, crawling along the sea bed, not sure if we would ever make it out of the darkness.
These anniversaries come around all too quickly, and its not just about the day itself. Its about the build up to the day and everything that goes with it. Because often the build up is the hardest part. I haven’t written for almost 4 weeks now, which is unusual for me. I haven’t had the strength in me to write, the energy. I have been so so tired recently, managing to get through the days and then crashing at night. I haven’t had the physical, emotional or mental strength to put pen to paper, even thought there has been so much going on in my head. To mark today I have lit 3 candles next to a picture of you. One is your special candle, just for you in a very special holder that was made just for you by a dear friend. The second is a 3 wick candle, lit in celebration of all of our children. Because I will continue to celebrate and remember that I have indeed being blessed with 3 children, even though only 1 might live with me here on earth. And the 3rd is a small Bella votive candle given by a dear friend.
For a long time after you died I suffered so much from PTSD, the flashbacks happening all the time. And those flashbacks have become a lot better, the trauma and stress dissipating, but I have found that over the last few weeks the flashbacks have returned. Vivid and real. I was in traffic last week and a blarring ER 24 ambulance raced past me and I was immediately transported back to that day when the ambulance arrived. I knew you were dead already, our kind Doctor neighbour having confirmed that for me, and then when the ambulance came the paramedics had to examine you, me sitting on the bed watching this all happen, confirm that you were dead, and then officially tell me. The paramedic was so gentle and sweet, and me just completely numb.I remember that so clearly. I don’t remember much of the coming days, but everything about that day is clear. The people that immediately came to rally around us, to see how they could help, what they could do, just to be there for us. Sitting with me in the room while I cradled You. Not leaving me alone. Helping me to make decisions like cutting a lock of your hair, and which blankets to wrap you in. How quickly the news spread, how few people I actually had to tell myself. I remember sitting with you in my arms, cradling you, feeling you growing stiff and cold, and not wanting to let you go. The police coming in and out, and then the mortuary arriving to take you away. Having to return to our home, and bathing and putting Murray to bed as per normal. Feeling like a complete stranger to myself. Completely removed from what was happening. Just being on autopilot. Not being able to cry. It was only at 3am the next morning, sitting in the lounge all on my own that the flood gates opened, that I cried for the first time about losing my precious baby girl.
Baby girl, it feels like a lot has happened in the last year, and yet in other ways it feels like nothing has changed. While I know that I am in a better place than I was last year emotionally, stronger than I was, having worked through so much in this last year, I also feel more lonely than I did last year. Grief is a very lonely journey and it becomes more lonely the longer time goes on. Because, rightly so, everybody else moves on with their lives, our loss becomes less part of their reality. And yet for us it is an integral part of our reality now and always. I have forever changed and I will never go back to who I was before and sometimes that reality is tough. The loss of you and Thomas is always right there at the forefront of our minds, it dwarfs and impacts on absolutely everything that we do. But then yet, on days like today, I am reminded again that we are not alone. That we have so so so many people loving and supporting us. Family, friends – both old and new – colleagues and acquaintances. That the power of community is so incredible and that your loss didn’t just impact on us, it changed everybody that knew you. And how often we have been carried, when we didn’t have the strength to get through it on our own.
As we did last year, we have left Cape Town and gone to hide on a farm. And somehow, in the peace and quiet, I feel closer to you. I feel like I can feel your presence here with us. And yet the fact that you are not physically with us is so stark, so evident. I am not even going to try and pretend. Today is just a bloody awful day. While I found the build up to today worse last year, and the day itself filled with a feeling of peace, this year the build up was a bit less traumatic and yet today feels worse. I have that tightness on my chest and I can’t stop the tears. I so wish that there was some kind of sign from you, something that could let me know that you are okay.
Aunts Sam shared this with me this morning and it’s so so very true – “They say there is a reason, They say that time will heal. But neither time nor reason, Will change the way I feel. For no-one knows the heartache, That lies behind our smiles. No-one knows how many times, We have broken down and cried. We want to tell you something, So there won’t be any doubt, You are so wonderful to think of, But so hard to be without.”
This is a message that was shared at a young boys funeral who tragically died recently. It was written by Pope Francis. And I guess if nothing else, this is what your death has taught me, and continues to teach me every, single day.
“This life will go by fast.
Don’t fight with people, don’t criticize your body too much, don’t complain too much.
Don’t lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.
Never stop being a good parent. Don’t worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home, and don’t kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don’t dedicate yourself to accumulating money.
Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow dogs to get closer. Don’t put away the fine glassware. Utilise the new dinnerware; don’t save your favourite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favourite sport shoes; repeat your favourite clothes.
So what? That’s not bad. Why not now? Why not pray now instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect…look…
Everything perfect doesn’t exist. Human beings can’t accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn.
So take this challenge that is life and do it now…love more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands.“
Baby girl, 2 years ago and yet it feels like only yesterday, our loss of you still so new. You are forever in my heart, mind and soul, never more than a thought away and I love you with my whole heart. I am so so sorry that I let you down as a mom, that I didn’t do the one thing I had to do, the most important thing in my entire life, to keep you alive.
I love you always