Wednesday, 4 February 2015
A friend asked me recently how life had changed for me since Thea stopped breathing. "Everyone says be grateful for the time you have, but I wonder if there is more than that?" were her words. And I had to confess that I now live with a whole lot of fear. It was a loss of innocence, and our life will never be the same.
I was such a relaxed mum before Christmas. I gave my kids the freedom to run far; to explore and discover the wonderful world around them. But those two minutes on Christmas Eve when I thought that my daughter was dead have changed me forever. Try as I might to crawl back into that belief that life will always turn out okay - I now know that just isn't true. And that realisation is quite terrifying.
Thea came out of hospital a little bit different, and a whole lot more reckless. At first I thought it was the drugs, and once she had been weaned off the anti-convulsants she did seem more herself. But she has absolutely no fear (I carry that for her now) and she charges into the waves at the beach like she is embracing an old friend.
I took Thea to the beach yesterday afternoon, where it seemed half the town was splashing in the waves and playing on the sand. After spending an exhausting thirty minutes plucking her out of the shallows every time a wave came charging at her I sunk onto the sand next to some friends, then realised I could no longer see my baby. Four terrifying minutes followed, frantically scanning the shallows and the shore and the sea tossed foam before we found her on the stairs, blocked from view by the steady stream of people walking up and down to the beach. I scooped her into my arms, tried to still the heavy beating of my heart, and took my children home.
It is as if this child has been sent to teach me a lesson in attentiveness. My boys always stuck to my side like glue, and I used to occasionally resent their neediness. I wanted to hang out with the other mums sometimes, not always be the one coaxing my sons down the slide and holding their hand in a crowd of strange children. But now I have been sent this free spirit who will wander wheresoever she pleases; and her need for me is no less. My place, right now, is by her side. And we will be sticking to the rock pools for the rest of summer.