Posted by: Louise | January 3, 2011


I touched my nephew tonight.

Not hugely significant, in many respects. I have quite a few nephews. My side of the family specialize in boys. My parents had six of them and me. My older brother has four and one girl. K and I went more for balance – two of each – but two boys and one girl remain. “The (other) uncles” as we refer to them have yet to to test just how hereditary male dominance is in our family.

My brother started his family first, so his eldest is a strapping teenager. Then came their daughter and a year later our Giraffe Princess arrived. Six months before Astro Boy landed their next son arrived. Two months exactly before the Little Boy Racer zoomed along their next son arrived.

A few weeks before Christmas two years ago, I was down with my sister-in-law having a mince pie bake-athon. I was 9 weeks pregnant, sick as a dog and trying to find their supply of CocaCola to ease my misery. If I asked, I knew she would guess instantly. I only ever drink CocaCola when I am pregnant, and then with a passion. I gave in and asked. She gave me a sideways glance and I enjoyed the next few weeks of not confirming her suspicions, little knowing that, yet again, our pregnancies were coinciding.

Laura was due at the beginning of July. Her baby was due a month later. Laura died. Her baby came a month early, only minutes before Laura’s due date. Her baby was a boy.

In the beginning it was ok – in as much as anything can be ok when the bottom falls out of your world. I visited. He slept on my chest and for a few hours that cold, hollow ache was filled by the warmth of a breathing, sleeping baby. And it felt good.

But then I didn’t see him for a while and he had grown bigger. Why did this surprise me? I couldn’t acknowledge him. Indifference has become my shield around him. He is beautiful. Of course he is. He is lovely. But he is growing. It isn’t his fault. It isn’t his parents fault. It isn’t anybody’s fault. He is just growing. It is entirely as it should be and it is so hard. Acknowledging this little boy means acknowledging everything that Laura isn’t.

Tonight we were all out at a relative’s house for dinner, an annual Christmas event. Twenty six people. A small house. My nephew toddled about in our midst. It was inevitable that his little hand would land on my knee as he toddled past. We touched. I held his hand as he reached out for the next knee.

And that touch was like an echo.

I held my cousin’s daughter a few months after Laura died. She had been born at the same time. I visited. I carried her around in her sling. When people asked my how it was, I said it felt obvious. I couldn’t find another word. There was something so right and so completing in the space she filled there against my body that it was just obvious.

Somehow I thought passing time would change that. These babies are growing. My baby is not. My physical feelings would change, or if not change, it would be holding new babies that would stir up these feelings. But no.

When I touched my nephew tonight, when I held his little hand in mine, it was an echo of what should be that I felt. It felt obvious. It was the echo of my absent eighteen month hold, working the room, knee by knee……

……and my heart broke all over again.



  1. Louloubelle – I cannot understand but I hear you and will listen to you til the end of our time. Love you. xx

    • Bless you, Vicks. Love you too.xx

  2. I held my friend’s daughter on Dec. 18th. She was born about 3 weeks before Cullen. I broke down while holding her.. but I did inhale that precious infant smell…. there is nothing like it. I miss it more than I can say….

    I can only imagine how it is to watch this child grow when yours cannot. I dread this part of my friendship… I long for the alternate universe where none of this happened- where all of our children are alive and well… growing in strength and beauty.

  3. Hug to you
    I know, at the beginning I thought, it’s ok, these babies and children are not Fionn, it’s ok. But as time has gone by I find it hard, harder, hardest to socialise with Children of the age Fionn would now be. I hope that trigger of smashing my heart into pieces will go away one day. For me and for them. It’s awful.

    I’m sorry.

    xx Ines

    PS We went to Kerry over the New Years and passed through Mallow and Fermoy, so close… closer than ever before. Was thinking of you, your closeness was like a magnet pulling me…

    • Make a detour next time, Ines. I’d love to see you.

      • we were on our way to Mitchelstown and ended up in Fermoy by accident (old GPS late night and bad road signs… don’t ask!) No, I’ll come on purpose to see you! None of this detour rubbish on those west coast roads for me and anyway you have a motorwaaaay!


  4. leslie,

    I so wish there was an alternate universe i could go to to see them all.


  5. I’ll look forward to that visit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: