The undertaker stands in front of me.
He motions for my unspoilt precious baby girl. But why? Why should I have to give away my only child?
I stare down at my little girl. Her perfectly shaped rosy lips. Her cute button nose. Her closed peaceful eyes. She has a sweet familiar smell — a radiant warmth. Like the morning sun streaming through the window. With her in my arms — we feel natural — meant to be.
How can our brief time together be at an end? I need more time!
The undertaker puts out his arms to gesture for my baby and I hold my daughter even tighter. The nurse is silent. My husband is silent. The hospital is silent.
With my last thread of strength — my arms give my golden child to the solemn undertaker.
I hear the screams of a hopeless woman. Piercing screams. Screams that echo life is over.
I wonder who she is? What could cause her such pain? I’d hate to be her. I don’t think I’d survive that pain.
So how is that woman me? I don’t understand! It doesn’t make any sense.
The undertaker puts my silent daughter in his carry bag and he darts out of the room.
A tidal wave smashes me. The hard sterile floor stops me from being washed away. My body is gently laid to rest on the bed.
Why can’t I be in the undertaker’s bag?
My body had one task in life. Safely deliver my child into this unsafe world. Failure.
My body failed. I failed. I am a failure.
I leave the hospital and I experience three days of black cold wet winter in the middle of summer. The thunder is deafening. The people that find me in the storm are those that hug me.
On occasions, I hear family and friends say ‘There’s nothing I can say to make it better but if you need me — I’m here.’ ‘You’re such a beautiful person — this shouldn’t happen to you.’ ‘I don’t know how you survive this but I’m here.’ Otherwise, the general chat is drowned out by the storm.
Day 3. My swollen red eyes open. I whisper ‘My daughter’s funeral.’
I vanish as my baby girl is lowered out of my reach for an eternity. Why can’t I jump in her grave and die next to her? We would be together forever — tucked in by the same soil.
Suicide at a funeral, is that allowed?
Useless God — he did this. My 32 years of Catholic following… all propaganda. Religion is such a joke. Sins don’t exist. Others do what they want and still get the lucky ticket.
But me… I’m locked in a cell. Stuck here until someone somewhere decides I have done enough time! Sentenced with my hubby as a fellow inmate. My poor broken hubby. Abandoning him when he is already hopeless would be an act of brutality.
As I’m shovelling dirt onto my daughter’s tiny pink coffin, I think ‘Fuck you God. Fuck You.’
‘You can’t dodge this with the usual God has a plan crap. You have so many horrid ugly humans running free in this world and yet you entitle them with a pulse and a breath.’
Death of a child should be forbidden! Our daughter is innocent! We’re innocent! Why not target those that drink, smoke or take drugs when they are pregnant? What about those who leave their baby in a dumpster? Why not take the unwanted babies and give them to the couples that desperately want them? The current system is unreasonable and deliberately cruel.
From the distance ‘You should go to the wake Kate — even if you only have one drink.’
So I’m at the wake. The bar props me up so I resemble a strong woman which makes others feel more at ease. Yet I’m ashamed as others laugh and joke. I’m able to drink alcohol when I should still be pregnant. I focus on the bottom of the glass to give me some purpose.
I tell myself I’m not a bad parent.
Or am I? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never know. I wasn’t given the opportunity to find out. Maybe I never will.
My brother-in-law appears next to me. ‘You know, you’ll just have to move on.’
I hear him but I don’t understand. I take a large gulp of my vodka, nod my head and continue walking in my limbo land of winter, dark clouds and silence.
Over the next couple of months, the cold comments start to flood. Each comment makes me weaker — Like angry termites eating my foundations.
‘Maybe you did something wrong.’
‘So there was nothing wrong with you… At least you’ll be able to have more children.’
‘It’s probably for the best — if your daughter had lived she might have had learning difficulties… it’s natural selection.’
‘I had a miscarriage and I was upset at the time but it was the best thing as I didn’t stay with the father.’
‘Life is so much easier for you — as you don’t have children.’
‘Oh, well, you wouldn’t know… as you haven’t had any children yet.’
‘Get over it. Move on.’
‘Get over it — be good to the living.’
Get over it. Get over it. Get over it.
My response to these frosty, thoughtless comments depends on my strength at the time.
When I’m broken, I simply stare at them. In my head I say ‘You are seriously fucked up.’ But my body is motionless — out of order.
If I am just coping I manage to say ‘I don’t agree with you and I doubt you would say that if you were me.’
But if I feel strong enough to fight for my daughter’s honour I say ‘I have a daughter named Lorraine. She is buried next to her grandmother. Lorraine will always be a part of my life and no future child will ever replace her. I will never get over her death.’
All I want in life is my daughter alive. I don’t care if she has one eye, one arm and one leg — just alive.
I religiously followed the book for a healthy pregnancy. My little girl arrived without a pulse and there was no explanation. So please, don’t try to justify her death with your selfish clichés. They aren’t helpful. If you don’t know what to say — just hug me.
It may be easier for you to forget my silent daughter but I dream about her when I’m awake. My much loved baby girl should be running around my legs. I should be able to hear her yell ‘Mum.’ Her Father should be wrapped around her little finger. Others should be able to see that we’re a family. The endless kisses, hugs and tears.
But all we have are the tears.
In simple terms. Our daughter deserves better. We deserve better. Yet she is dead and we live as this feeble form of a human.
So as the song says ‘Wake me up when it’s all over. When I’m wiser and I’m older…’
Kate Henderson, mother of Lorraine.