Since my son died I have not heard mysterious bells or seen half caught glimpses of him, But last night I watched the Lazy Bones film about a girl who is murdered, it is probably the nearest I have come to being able to say to people “That is what it’s like to lose a child” The mother of the child left home, she left everyone behind, including the living children who probably needed her.
That’s what I did, I left home and wandered, I was as lost as my son. When people say they have lost someone, they have lost them. We don’t know where they are, we don’t know where they have gone. I remember coming home from the hospital after Richie got lost and the home that I had tried to make for my children that I thought was safe and cosy and warm looked like a dump, the curtain had come off the hook and was dangling a bit at the edge, the frayed arm on the chair that I had never seen before was a great gaping tear. I lost my son at that time and I also lost my home and everything I had tried to make of my life.
I got lost just days after he died, I do remember saying to everyone that I was going for a walk and was informed by a hysterical daughter when I did arrive home that I had been gone for three days, Wow where did those days go? I don’t remember. I once woke up in the pitch black outside the dog track in Catford, I was in my car. I can’t remember going there.or why I passed out for so long. I just knew that I had to get lost as well, so I tried my hardest.
My other two children had already left home but it was not good, one daughter was pregnant and the other was not really in our life. Sophie my pregnant daughter was horrified at my disappearances and on the first night of Richie being lost for ever, she slept in my front room hidden behind the sofa, I had thrown everybody out of my house, I wanted to be alone to deal with this hideous situation, also my sight had gone funny and everything I looked at was moving really fast, my eyes couldn’t focus. It was terrible and very disorienting, also I had lost the power of speech, my voice was a stutter that didn’t stop for nearly two years. Sophie hid everywhere she could and followed me like a little ghost. She was scared i was going to kill myself and then she would be really alone. I wouldn’t have killed myself, not that I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t, I had the sense in my furthest part of my rational brain that killing myself would not be good for her future, would I leave a legacy that would rain down suicide of what remains of my small precious family?
I first disappeared to the West Indies for two weeks, it was a nightmare from hell. I went to stay with a friend who had known Richie since he was a baby, she almost felt as if she had some hold on him as well, she was heartbroken and drinking and would scream at me to stop sighing, she said it reminded her of a whale under the sea calling its calf, I couldn’t help it. I next went to Africa and hated it even more, next came Asia and finally Europe. But I couldn’t shake off the awfulness of losing my lovely son. it didn’t matter where I went it was there, it was inside me. I would shut my eyes and see him,hear him, see the little scars on his body, the dimples and his beautiful smile. I realised that we don’t own our children, if I really owned Richie and he was mine. He would not be dead, I would not allow it, he would not be allowed to get lost and leave me and his family for ever and ever.
All the time Sophie waited at home for me. she had her baby, he brought me no joy, stupid people would say “Oh you’ll have a lovely new baby soon” no I wouldn’t, my daughter would. I had LOST my baby how could I just get a new one and replace him?
I stopped talking to his father, only after we had a big fight in the street, to my shame I hit him with a curtain wire across the face, it must have hurt him, but not as much as losing our son. I felt that he could not even begin to comfort me or understand how dreadful my life had become and of course I did not feel his pain, he was a man he kept it in. I watched in amazement as he cried to the Theme from Titanic, my heart goes on, my mouth opened really wide as he explained that whenever he heard that song it reminds him of his son. I didn’t talk to him for nearly five years.
Watching that film finally made me realise how bad it has been. When the mother came home finally and opened her daughters window, the daughter said she had been waiting for her mum to come home so she could move on. I ran away and I came home it was not perfect and even to this day it has changed me,
So the nearest I have come to heaven is,
Three years after Richie got lost,
I had started my own food business, I could not work at Sainsburys anymore, I had become unreliable, I would turn up when I wanted, I would go home in the middle of a shift and the terrible thing was I didn’t care. I had a terrible day at the market, no money, freezing cold, raining and I had a rotten cold. I could not breath and I still had to cycle home. I eventually arrived home and just collapsed on the bed, my body was aching and I could hardly get my clothes off. I have a picture of Richie and I kissing, he is laughing and I just love the photo, it was above my head on the window sill, the window was off course tightly shut, I started to drift off, not really sleeping more unconscious, my overriding thought before I drifted off was, I wished I had some Vicks, I felt if I could breath properly I would be much better. With that the picture fell off the window sill, I was so shocked, yet so ill I could not be too startled but I remember thinking, how the hell did that fall? I then went out like a light. I awoke early the next morning and immediately remembed the photograph falling on the bed, I picked it up gasped and then laughed and knew that I could live again. Underneath the picture that had fallen was a small jar of Vicks vapour rub.