Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Nobody in real life will really understand this.

The house next door to us caught fire this evening. I was taking the kids out of the bath and suddenly heard a lot of swearing from my husband in the room next door. He burst into the bathroom and said, 'get the kids dry and out of the house now!'

I didn't really understand what was happening but I could tell that he was scared so I grabbed a load of towels and wrapped them up. When I was standing outside the house, I saw that the fire next door was taking quite a hold. I handed Reuben to a neighbour because I had to go back in.

An off duty fire fighter was there, telling my husband to close the windows. He told me not to go back in. I garbled at him that I had to get my daughter's ashes, that I was sorry and I knew it didn't make any sense as she had already been burnt but that I couldn't let it happen again.

I must have sounded completely insane, sufficiently insane to frighten him out of my way anyway, as he stepped back. So I plunged back up the stairs, into the wardrobe, grabbed Georgina's box and dashed back out again.

My neighbour said that she understood, that she would have gone back for the baby box too.
She doesn't know about Georgina. She doesn't know that I am the sort of person who goes back into a burning building for ashes.

All those people filming with their mobile phones, filming me triumphantly emerging with a box of ashes. I'll probably pop up on youtube somewhere, emerging from my front door as next door's car port explodes, happily clutching my white memory box.

Unfortunately for the house next door, it's a bit of write off.
Ours is smelly but just fine.
And the only ashes are those in the wardrobe.

Monday, 15 April 2013


'I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe that there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.'

Roger Ebert, I Do Not Fear Death

I lunge for the radio, like something about to drown. It is, frequently, the only source from which anything even vaguely resembling sense emerges.

I hope it may be like that. That Georgina's life was just a brief slip from one contentment to another.
An ignorance to a release.
I'm sorry that she didn't have any gifts or memories.
Very sorry indeed.
But who needs a little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower?
Maternal love, a sister, pain, years, days.
Everything, in the end, is surplus to requirements.

In the kitchen I try and relate this minor revelation, the slipping, the comfort, a brief display of my own little souvenirs.

"Oh God, do you ever talk about anything that isn't SO heavy."

The pot is slammed down. I retreat.


I do talk about things that aren't heavy. I play a lot of Candy Crush, squishing boiled sweets into the hereafter with the help of my trusty companions, striped, wrapper and bobbly (as I call them). Crunch, crunch, squash. It's a cheery world where lives are reallocated after a certain period of time and, no matter how badly you tie up, you can always start again. I'm sure that is part of its appeal.


'Now the news has arrived 
From the Valley of Vail
That a Chippendale Mupp has just bitten his tail,
Which he does every night before shutting his eyes.
Such nipping sounds silly. But, really, it's wise.
He has no alarm clock. So this is the way
He makes sure that he'll wake at the right time of day.
His tail is so long, he won't feel any pain
'Til the nip makes the trip and gets up to his brain.
In exactly eight hours, the Chippendale Mupp
Will, at last, feel the bite and yell "Ouch!" and wake up.'

Dr. Seuss, The Sleep Book

Things seem to take a long time to reach my brain these days. Participating in the research group is a little like picking a scab or poking about with your tongue in a rotten tooth.

I had a discussion about medical professionals who are involved in the handling of withdrawal or withholding of life support from very young infants. They don't really receive much training in what to do or what to say.

I remember one of the nurses with us when Georgina was dying, it was her first death. She tried so hard, to be professional and to keep asking how I was during the rest of the time that Jessica was on the neonatal ward. I never really thought that it must have been hard for her too, that she was just a young girl. When you land up in a world where you have to hand over the person you love most entirely to the knowledge and competence of another human being, you want to forget about their frailty. Angels or demons or wizards. Anything but human, prone to fail, prone to mistakes.

I have this discussion about how the conversations and action immediately surrounding the death of your child can have long reaching ramifications into how you feel about that decision and that experience many years down the line. I feel calm, I don't cry, perhaps it's easier here where nobody is flinching as they've all sat waiting for babies to die. Checking breathing and listening for heart beats.

Then, a couple of days later, the pain obviously finally reaches my brain. Through all the numbness and   'I don't think about that's and 'la la la la la, I can't hear you's and 'level 65 of Candy Crush MUST be defeated' and 'MUST just carry on going' and all the other crap that accompanies the process of living, living, living, on and on and on.

It still hurts. Somewhere underneath all of that.

Once more I'm crying in a supermarket aisle. I hide amongst the reduced items. It will pass. It always does.


This is a song that has haunted my life a little.
It is a much loved song from my youth and reminds me of both church as a little girl and of the smell of artificial smoke machines and stale alcohol.
It was a song sung by my little sister's best friend at her wedding.
It was the song that I played on the way to Georgina's funeral.

Turns out that the original track, prior to all the re-mixing and jiggling that made up the version that I know best, was recorded for a video only documentary about an obese man who was trying to lose weight.

Somehow that seems right.

This song about an obsese man and the Chippendale Mupp and technicolour facebook games and small souvenirs of the Eiffel Tower all jumble together and form a strange, beautiful, horrible trap. Where the more I try to extract any meaning whatsoever from the mixture of objects, no matter how close it seems to lurk beneath the surface veneer, the more entangled I become.

I wonder what it is like to be where she is, where nothing is required.

Perhaps it is best simply to wait. For contentment.

And, in the meantime, hit me with it.
Song recorded for obese guy. Prop me up a little will you?