It was September 2016 and Ieuan was asking me about the changing seasons.
“If the leaves turn brown, does that mean that it’s nearly Autumn?”
“It does,” I told him.
I watched him excitedly put his little hands on either side of my pregnant tummy.
“Did you hear that, baby?” he squealed into my skin, “It’s nearly Autumn! We get to meet you soon!”
And least that’s how the story should have gone.
But not long after that came the hospital appointments full of worry. I was constantly being told that Evalyn was on the borderline of being too small, yet no actions were taken. Growth scan after growth scan showed a happy, healthy baby kicking around inside of me and that seemed enough to reassure everyone whose medical opinons mattered. My pregnancy sickness continued as if I were still in my first trimester and as much as I wanted to enjoy every moment of Evalyn’s pregnancy, I wanted it to be over. I wanted the Autumn to pass by quickly and I wanted Evalyn in my arms. . . .
And then she was.
As Winter began to chill Autumn’s edges, I sat on a hospital bed cradling Evalyn, her little body as cold as frost itself. Life as I knew it had been drastically altered and no amount of praying or screaming at the walls would change that . . . .
In trying to move forward, I have mixed opinions about Autumn.
Autumn 2016 was a countdown with an unimagnable ending. The following year, I found myself trying to navigate my way through pregnancy after loss whilst coming up against all of Evalyns first year anniversaries and once again, the golden season just became a few months I found myself wanting to ignore with closed eyes.
So far, the approach to Autumn 2018 has resurrected these familiar emotions once again. Maybe this year, these feelings bring with them less anxiety but the sadness is still very much there at the forefront of my mind. There are reminders everywhere at this time of year. . . .
The change in temperature which always reminds me of how excited I was that Summer was over and I was closer to meeting her.
Dropping Ieuan off for his first day of school whilst she kicked and jabbed away inside of me. All of the times when Ieuan would run over to us at the end of the school day and wrap his arms around me saying “baby cuddles first, Mum. Then you.”
Our last walk together through the woods on that sunny November morning the day before we lost her. The way the sunlight highlighted every branch, tree and leaf in a warm glow. We walked, holding hands and talking about how we would return once the baby was with us. We were so in love with the idea of bringing her back for long walks in her baby sling. We had no idea that four weeks from that moment, we would stand in the same spot craddling her ashes. . . .
There is no time limit for grief. There is no closure. There is just a wound that finds itself re-opening with every reminder, every memory.
I’m sure not every year will be the same. I’m sure that just like my sadness of missing Evalyn, my need to hibernate at this time of year will change and remould itself over the passing years. But for right now, Autumn has become a time of year when I need to take a step back from myself. It is a time of year when I reflect more on my life. Of the before Evalyn and the after Evalyn . . . .
In a way, Autumn is everything Evalyn. It is full of the essence of her. It is full of little triggers that take me back to her. And sometimes, just sometimes, I find myself wanting to hibernate through it all.
Maybe one day I will learn to dance through the leaves.