by KAT PLINT
It’s that time of year again, shitty December.
I really do loathe December.
We used to call it the party month.
My beautiful daughter Hannah’s birthday on the tenth, leading into a massive swell of parties for her little friends, and for us, then of course came Christmas.
Hannah was the Party Queen. Her very first party was on the 26th December 2004, only three weeks old and she was awake the WHOLE time and never took her eyes off Uncle Damien.
As she grew older, Hannah’s attitude to parties was: eat lots of smarties, drink lots of bubbles and crash out on mum and dad’s bed in a state of deliriously happy exhaustion.
“Imagine” wrote John Lennon. I do. I often try and imagine what Hannah would look like now, what she would be like at a party, how she would act, how much she would have learned.
We lost Hannah on 4 October 2007 to drowning, in our deck built enclosed pool. Even though the pool was fenced and the fence was locked, our clever little bugger opened it whilst standing on a chair.
She drowned silently, whilst I changed a nappy on her baby brother; ending her life with one fateful decision to be a big girl and swim alone. Left to die alone because I failed to supervise her properly for those few short minutes. My eyes failed her, my CPR failed her and her newly learned swimming skills failed her too.
I read her death certificate often, just in case it’s a dream.
That downhill screamer. Kind of like a hangover that won’t go away but you haven’t touched a drop of alcohol. The constant pain in my head, the loneliness in my aching heart. Every shop I enter – filled with its Christmas cheer – I just want to yell and scream. December, is the month that brings my usual feeling of being One Less Than Whole, solidly to the surface and I am unable to ignore it.
To many, five years seems a very long time. We should be over it by now, I can feel people thinking. My husband still cries, so do I and so does our youngest son and older children who have now all left home. It’s just the three of us now but it should be four or more.
Since we lost Hannah, we have tried and failed IVF 10 times over. Our bank balance and the house mortgage has copped their fair share of pounding. Along with boxes of tissues. We have shares in Kleenex.
So what does one want for Christmas when living with One Less?
I would like a Christmas of love and a full family. A gift that my grief would miraculously be cured. A gift that others would remember that Hannah still exists in our hearts and put her name on the cards that they send.
A gift of zero children drowning during the hot summer Australia has ahead. Because that is the aim of the foundation we have set up in Hannah’s name.
Naive perhaps, but I like to think it’s possible. No drowning deaths, no further heartache, no more loss and no more grief.
I live in hope but sadly, this Christmas many more could come to share this agony and pain of losing a child to drowning.
My message to you is this: Please supervise all children around water – even if you have a fence and even if they can swim. Because there are no reset buttons on life.
And this Christmas when you are all opening presents, smiling, laughing, drinking and partying hard, spare a moment for families like ours. Families who are missing someone. Families who are One Less.
Is it January yet?
Kat Plint is the Founder of Hannah’s Foundation, Drowning Prevention, Awareness and Support charity and National Day of Drowning prevention and Memorial (October 4th). Kat is the mother of five children aged 23 years to six years.Kat’s efforts were acknowledged in September when she was awarded the QLD CHILD PROTECTION WEEK Volunteer of the Year for 2012.Hannah’s Foundation is a registered charity institution and is not provided any government funding for support services. You can find more information here: www.hannahsfoundation.org.au