So, part deux, maybe not quite as upbeat as part one, because life doesn’t always go how you expect or hope hey? Let’s face it, things can go wonky in my house before 7.30am in the morning! Lols! Anyway…
In early 2017 me and the husband had some ‘talks’ and decided to go for baby Shotton number 4. I LOVE babies! Their cute-sie, choochy faces, tiny hands and feet, soft skin and man, they just smell.SO.good! We’d had some pretty gorgeous babies already, who wouldn’t want more??
In May of that year I had a second miscarriage. I know people will have walked, or be walking through, much heavier stuff but the ache of loss can’t be undersold. However it comes, loss hurts, it is bitter. I couldn’t really find words to express what I felt, but by then, Coldplay had written ‘Fix You’ and that helped…
‘And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?’
At the time I wasn’t sure it could be worse, but with a 6, 4 and 2-year-old, life couldn’t really slow down, it rolled on and I couldn’t get off. Summer holidays came and went, birthdays came and went. The 2-year-old turned 3 and started nursery, the 4-year-old turned 5 and started school, and the 6-year-old turned 7 and started juniors and I came home and sat on sofa, alone, for the first time in years.
I wept. Again.
Christmas came and went, New Years came and went, marking times of the year that I thought would be so different. I was kind of numb, I thought there would be a baby joining us, there wasn’t. The husband wasn’t sure about trying for number 4 again… I’d lost my baby, my dream and I felt like I was sinking. My Mother’s Day card that year was so beautiful but so painful as I looked at the 5 little birds… 3 with me, 2 that I never got to meet.
Then in the Spring I fell off my bike, tearing cartilage in my knee. I couldn’t walk properly, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t do any sport (except swimming), I could just about do a small food shop and pick up my kids from school on crutches… It had got worse and it was hard. For a while I wasn’t sure I could see a way out.
But comfort came. From usual and unusual places.
I had a strong sense that my life was not just about me; I was part of something bigger than me. Unusual. So comforting. I watched the Tour de France and was struck by the word that marked the end of each stage, ‘arrivée’, which translates to ‘arrival’. Very different to the English word at the end of a race, ‘finish’. In some ways I felt I was finished but really, I think I was arriving at the next stage. Unusual. So comforting. I had friends who listened to me, walked, talked, cried and prayed with me. More usual. So comforting. And more recently I read about a winter, mountain climb for some new recruits in an Army Mountain Warfare School. ‘If you want to quit, look at the top of the mountain’ the recruits got told. ‘If you want to make it through, find the closest tree and tell yourself, I’m going to make it to that tree…And then you get to that tree and do the same thing again. Tree by tree you will get to the top.’ Unusual. So comforting.
I think suffering can produce 2 things; bitterness or endurance; I have fumbled my way along with a bit of both. At times I have felt the bitterness creeping in, the disappointment, the resentment, choking out the sweetness. But I don’t want to be bitter, I want to endure.
My knee got fixed and I decided that I wanted to live fully, I wanted to embrace the ‘arrivée’, I wanted to go for the ‘next tree’. I love swimming (as you know!) and I love an adventure, and I’d often thought of swimming the Channel. A childhood, ex Saxon-Crowner friend of mine, Tom Godec, had swum it several years back and after a few chats with him, and the husband of course, the rest, as they say, is history.
Another quote to finish… I thought of Cheryl Cole’s ‘Fight for this Love’ (choooooon!!) but decided on Winston Churchill…
‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.’
I want to live brightly, thrive, make the most of this wonderful life I have been given and encourage others to go for their ‘next tree’ too. I’m hoping there’s a fair few more before I reach the top!!