Posted by: Louise | March 20, 2012

a moment – a few moments

I had a thought the other night. Not unusual (the having thoughts part), but the thought itself was new. Different. I am not sure if I will ever get this thought into words, but for a moment it was there and in that moment two pieces of a jigsaw fit together.

The Giraffe Princess and Astro Boy were singing with their school choir on the Opera House stage. We sat, proud parents, in the audience with my parents and the Little Boy Racer (spread across his seat and K and I – sound asleep. Three Irish Tenors and a school choir just weren’t measuring up to Fat Boy Slim for him.) My mind meandered to all the usual places – parental pride, mother love, growing children, exciting new achievements, missing Laura, tired children and on and on.

There was an instrumental interlude, a piece I love – Mascagni’s Intermezzo. Music can catch the soul and carry it to heights. And again I thought of Laura (not that I ever don’t). Again I tuned into her as my soul was carried along.

Before I knew I was pregnant with Laura, I was given a piece of writing about joy and sorrow and the necessity of allowing yourself to feel both…

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”

But I say unto you, they are inseparable…

The Prophet – Joy and Sorrow

As I sat in the dark with the music and my family and my thoughts of missing Laura there was a moment, a moment of awareness that her presence was here. The music wasn’t sweeter because I had lost my child. It was sweeter because my child was and is now always with us, wherever we are.


Our house is in chaos.

The builders are moving in in a fortnight. We are moving out. We and all that we possess are moving out. K and I are together 18 years (can this be true? I may have miscounted). We hoard. Everything is returning to the surface as the settled waters are stirred up. I found a book of poems I had written between the ages of eight and twenty. I found a receipt for the Giraffe Princess’s first coat, bought on 11 September 2001. I was feeding her first solids to her when I heard the news of the initial plane crash.

I found the pregnancy diary I kept for an Irish parenting website when I was expecting Astro Boy. In it I described how overwhelmed with love I was for him when he was born, when I thought I would only ever have room in my heart for one child. And I thought of my love for Laura which had no child to hold and cradle… I found nappy receipts and the midwife’s account of my labour with the Boy Racer. All these moments in one drawer. And as I rummaged and read, I found in my mind a picture of a family I used to know who debated over compostable nappies or washable ones and meandered tentatively into the world of home births, who designed their own changing table and spent years standing at it before their last child needed no nappies and it took all their strength to just stand.

It was nice to find those memories still there, obscured, but there.

The LBR looked over my shoulder when I was on Pinterest the other day. (If you ever wonder where I am, now you know. Mindless entertainment, sorting pictures.)

That looks like Laura, he said.

Someone had used their infant child for their profile picture. There was one other picture on the page – a cup cake.

That is Laura’s favourite food, he offered. I wish Laura was still alive. Then we could all eat cupcakes.

Giraffe Princess and I were sorting through her dolls. She is eleven now and careering towards her teens at a frightening pace. We needed to sort what was going into storage and what was just going. In amongst the dolls was one insignificant enough looking doll. I pulled her out, reocognising her as I did. Several months after Laura died, GP spotted her in the central aisle of our local Lidl – one of the weekly offers. Her name was Laura, clearly embroidered on her front. Laura doll spent two years in GP’s bed beside her and only recently disappeared.

She is coming with us, the Giraffe Princess said, and took her and carefully dressed her for the move.

When are you going to make Laura’s gravestone? Astro Boy asked out of nowhere this evening. A gravestone for our child is still a task too weighty for us to bear, but a task that Astro Boy has always felt a considerable responsibility for.

I will draw a design for you, he offered. It will be a statue of Laura sitting on a stone – the stone will have all the information on it. There will be a love heart where Laura’s heart is and a hole in the love heart going all the way through it. Then there will be a love heart where the hole comes out at the back too.

Isn’t that the idea you had for Laura’s gravestone when she died? K remembered (not that he had ever forgotten) And you did a drawing of it and put it in her coffin with her.

Astro Boy nodded.

If money were no object I would commission this gravestone in a heartbeat.



  1. “The music wasn’t sweeter because I had lost my child. It was sweeter because my child was and is now always with us, wherever we are.” I love this so very much. I have a big problem with the idea of any sort of “silver lining” having to do with Teddy’s death, and this perspective makes so much more sense – philosophically and emotionally – to me.

    And the Giraffe Princess and Astro Boy just take my breath away.

    • I get you on the ‘silver lining’ and I sometimes even feel like there is a pressure to find the ‘silver lining’ to make others feel like we are coming to terms with our child dying. Does that make sense? Whatever my moment was the other day, it fit for me. It didn’t make everything ok, it just fit… xx

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