There are so many special events throughout a lifetime for your children, the day they begin to talk, when they start school, move to high school, graduate university, get engaged, get married, have children; the list is literally endless but for Millie, she was never even given the chance to get started.
I am so proud of my little baby girl, I am so proud that she came into my life and I got to see her smile, I got to hear her laugh, I got to see her wiggle her little bum when she was dancing. I am so proud of everything that she was and I hate saying that as I want to still be saying that I am so proud of everything that she is, but I can’t because she is gone.
I am genuinely sat here in tears whilst I am writing this because as I am writing, I am flicking through video footage of Millie and once again I can her laugh, I can see her gorgeous smile appearing and I am watching her little bum wiggle and I miss every tiny cell of her body, it tears me apart that Dan and I created this amazing little human being and she was ripped from us in an instant and we never even got a chance to say goodbye.
Led in front of me right now, is our newest little addition, little Leo and he is fast asleep and I can hear him breathing and every breath I hear come from him is a treasure to me, only a parent who has lost a child will understand that. I want all the things for Leo that I wanted for Millie, that has not changed, what has changed is how I think. I try not to imagine Leo growing up and experiencing all these things that Millie missed out on because , for my own sanity, I have to concentrate on one day at a time and cherish whatever Leo is doing on each and every separate day.
For 2 years, Dan and I haven’t done birthdays or Christmas, we couldn’t face it. I couldn’t face going out and looking for presents for my family and friends, especially the children. The pull from my heart to my eyes strengthened so much if I even thought about trying to shop for child; my heart made my thoughts turn into tears. This wasn’t just for the younger children, this was for the older ones too – I couldn’t face looking at things that I was never going to be able to buy for my daughter, toys that I would never be able to see my daughter play with or clothes that she could never wear.
This year though, we are attempting it, for Leo’s sake – to ensure his normality of life is there as he grows up. We seem to be doing ok so far. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy, I still cry, I still come home with headaches because I have tried to buy someone something and it has stressed me out so much because my head has been in a totally different place. This week it has been a set of twin relatives eighteenth birthday , two absolutely gorgeous, articulate and intelligent girls and we went to their 18th birthday party. Looking at them hurts, it hurts that I will never ever see my little girl turn into this beautiful woman who is so excited for her 18th birthday party, a party that I can never throw for her. It hurts that I can’t see her get excited about passing her driving test or take her to look around universities (that’s if she wanted to go), see that’s the thing , I will never know if she wanted to go into further academia, she might have just wanted to throw a rucksack on an go travelling and to be honest , she could have done exactly as she had pleased and I wouldn’t have tried to stop her, because all I wanted for her was to be happy and enjoy her life.
Then it comes to the dad’s to look so proud – hearing their dad talk about them with so much pride in his voice , so ecstatic that his daughter’s have grown up to be polite, stunning and amazing human beings. You don’t know how much that hurts me as a mum, it hurts me because I know it hurts Millie’s daddy, I can see the pain in his eyes when he sees things like this, I know that his heart is breaking and all he wants to do is stand there and cry, just like I do. I detest the fact that I cannot do anything to ease my husband’s broken heart, to stop him feeling this excruciating pain. We have sadly learnt how to keep our poker face on now in the moment, the tears stay put until we get home. Mine came in the shower later.
Just over 12 months ago, one of my truly best friend’s got married, I’ve known her for close to 20 years and when I have needed her, she has been there supporting me every step of the way. At her wedding I was one of her bridesmaids and I was genuinely honoured to have been asked by her, as (I don’t actually know if she knows this) I have never been a bridesmaid before. When she asked me, of course I said yes, there was nothing to even think about. Later that night, I cried, I cried so many tears because I knew that my daughter would have taken my place if she was still here, I know she would have been a little flower girl/bridesmaid tottering down the aisle, stealing my place of a bridesmaid from me, but that would have been OK, she would have been entitled to steal it from me and I would gladly have let her. It was me though as a bridesmaid that day, it was I that was the bridesmaid because my little girl had left us way before her time, before her mummy. It hurt that day, it really did.
Me as a bridesmaid with Dan, (the eyes say more than the smile here)
But back to proud dads. My friend kept completely to tradition that day and kept her dad away until she was ready, until she was ready to show him what a beautiful bride she was (she really was).
He walked through the door; the look on his face when he looked at her, the look that he couldn’t believe that this stunning bride was his daughter, his little girl – that it probably didn’t feel like two minutes ago that he was teaching her to read, to ride a bike and to tie her shoelaces. But here she was, all grown up, ready to create this whole little new family and become someone’s wife. It’s really funny because this was such a lovely moment, it really was and I will never forget that split second look on his face as he beamed his “proud dad” smile for the first time at seeing his daughter in her wedding dress. The reason it’s funny? Because this was like a dagger to my heart for Dan, it didn’t affect me as much when the mother of the bride was in the room, it was the dad. All I could think about was how Dan was never ever going to get this moment with his precious daughter, how he was never ever going to do that “proud dad” smile as he saw his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time. It hurts me more when I know Dan is suffering because we lost Millie. I blame myself, I know I shouldn’t because it wasn’t my fault but your head does crazy things to you, my head makes me think, well if Dan had never met me or married me then he would never have had to go through this pain. I know, it’s stupid because we could never in our wildest nightmares have predicted what happened to Millie but it doesn’t stop your brain thinking it.
The closest we ever got to seeing Millie in anything remotely similar to a wedding dress was at her christening and I am so glad that her great-granny bought her this amazing gown, she looked absolutely gorgeous in it, I am sure that you will agree.
I know that this is going to be a never ending cycle, there will always be something that will be coming up that Millie should be involved in or that Millie should be doing. People like to say that “it must get easier” – for your information it doesn’t get easier in the slightest, you just learn to live with it. The pain is still exactly the same, the same as what is was on 23rd October 2012, just after 1pm when I found out Millie had passed but there are tricks that you learn, tricks that you learn to use to in front of other people and to be honest, a lot of the time, the tricks are to benefit you, not us …..
Follow Joanne on Twitter: @joannet1985