October

Lying here in the dark, watching the first hints of blue, dawn light trickling through the red and orange oak leaves outside our bedroom window, I’m getting ready to listen to my Grandpa’s funeral. I feel you stir inside me.   

It’s half past five on Friday morning here in Sweden and you’re already kicking. Just a few weeks, maybe even less, before you’re in my arms instead. I’m sure I will witness many more dawns before the year is out.  

Except that one more of them will be like this one, when I listen to the funeral of my other grandfather, my Dedo, next Friday morning. I hope you will wait inside until the goodbyes are over. When everyone will be ready for a big hello to brighten what has been an unimaginably difficult time for our family.   

But for now it’s back to Grandpa’s funeral.  

My mum has put her phone on the lectern so I can hear the service, which is beautiful. My dad gives a moving, but heart-wrenching speech. Little pieces written by us grandchildren are read by the celebrant.  

You kick me, gently enough, while I cry in the dark, making little puddles on Felix’s chest. The Braxton Hicks contractions are particularly bad when I cry.   

The last time I saw either of them was eight months ago, before I was pregnant with you. I was visiting Dedo who had cancer in his throat. He held out much longer than we expected. We didn’t know that Grandpa would also get so sick, so fast. Also cancer.   

I feel a resigned devastation that I couldn’t be there in their last weeks. The flight is long and I am very pregnant. We made do with phone and Skype calls. We talked about you a lot.   

They missed out on seeing your precious little face by a few short weeks and I know they felt that loss deeply. But they were overjoyed to know that a new little person would soon be here to continue the circle of life. As bittersweet as anything could be.  

At the end of the funeral, the guests watch a slideshow of grandpa’s life, accompanied by a couple of Cilla Black songs. I hear people laugh and cry but I don’t see the photos. Dad sends them to me later and I laugh and cry.   

It’s a wonderful history of his life and dotted with babies. First, my dad and his brother, then the grandchildren. The look in his and everyone’s eyes, holding these brand new, tiny, wrinkly people. New pieces of the family puzzle. The pure joy.   

There’s a photo in the slideshow of Grandpa lying in the grass with a tiny, little me sitting on his lap. A new wave of loss washes over me as I imagine a photo, 26 years later, that almost was. But with you there in place of me. There are similar photos of Dedo and I that my parents have shown me since. 

I Google whether or not my grief could be hurting you. The results are inconclusive. 

When we decided it was time to bring a new little person into our lives, I had no concept of the guilt and responsibility that would come with carrying you. Suddenly, my body is not my own.   

I’ve been lucky to (mostly) avoid comments like “are you sure you should be eating that?” from others, but any unusual feeling in my body throws me into a mental recount of everything I’ve eaten in the last 48 hours. Has something happened to you? Was it my fault? 

I cross the road at the lights now. I’ve stopped cycling. I wonder if the pain I feel when I bend over to put my shoes on is because I’m crushing you. The midwife says it isn’t but Felix helps me with my shoes and socks anyway because it hurts just a bit too much. Sometimes he has to help with my undies and pants as well. 

I barely recognize my own body. Felix says I might have a stretchmark under my belly button but I can’t even see that place anymore. My belly button is now an outie. It feels strange. Like a nipple on my belly that people can see through my dress. Odd, the things that bother me. 

But those feelings are small in comparison to the excitement, hope, joy and sheer disbelief we feel, Felix and I, when we think about our impending parenthood. I can’t even begin to describe the longing I feel to have you in my arms. For you to lie down, in all your tininess between your dad and I. 

I am searching my hard drive for photos of Dedo now. Getting ready for the next funeral. Some of these will hang on our wall soon as well. You will never meet them, but you will know who they were, and pieces of them will be carried on through you.   

Will you have Grandpa’s love of music and passion for flowers? Dedo’s sense of humour and green thumb? The colour of their hair or a hint of their jawline? I can’t wait to find out. 

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Lily Ray
Lily Ray

Journalist, photographer, traveller and knitter. Mother to a small but demanding infant, Lily's life is messy but generally lovely. She has a lot of thoughts. Here is where she puts them.

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