real life

"To us you weren’t a loss. You were a little girl." A letter to the niece I never had the chance to meet.

To my little Georgia,

From one little sister to another – where do I even begin.

The day I came to meet you at the hospital, the sun was shining and the air was warm. It was late September and it was Spring at last. But to us, it could not have felt more like a winter’s day. Looking outside, it was almost as though the world hadn’t yet realised you had passed.

The nine months leading up to that day had felt like an eternity. For your mum and dad I suspect it felt even longer. Their journey to get you had been a bumpy one. There were already scars on their hearts from loves lost before you.

So, from the day your mum and dad announced they were expecting you, we all made our own private bargains with the universe. For months we held our breath whenever the phone rang. We waited on ultrasound results with hearts in our throats. Until, eventually, we started breathing normally again, and excitement replaced fear.

We didn’t know if you were a boy or a girl or what your name would be. So instead we impatiently waited for THAT call. The call that would give you your own little identity. But instead, just days before you were due, we got that other call. And a new scar formed on our hearts

Four years ago, when your big sister was born I loved her fiercely straight away. I knew I would feel the same when you came into the world. I was so excited to hold you in my arms, breathe in your new baby goodness and marvel at your little hands and feet.

But when I heard that you had passed away I was scared I wouldn’t feel the same. I was frightened I would be too scared to touch you. I was worried that all I would see would be a lifeless body, of a little baby, that I didn’t know. But as soon as I saw you, I realised those fears were mislaid. And, I loved you instantly. The feeling was fierce. I didn’t need your heart to be beating to feel that love. It was truly unconditional. For a moment or two I even forgot you had passed. I smiled at you and touched your little nose, and told you how much I loved you. It felt so normal to hold you.

For a moment, the movement of my chest, as I breathed with you against it, made it look like you were breathing with me. But as the blanket you were wrapped in slipped from my arm, and your cold skin pressed against mine, I was suddenly reminded that I wouldn’t be able to hold you forever.

As we spoke about your death, through broken voices, the pain of the situation was palpable. We talked about things that should never have to be discussed inside a maternity ward. While other families in neighboring rooms celebrated new little lives, we spoke about the knot in your cord. We said goodbye to you when we should have been saying hello. We asked questions that didn’t really have answers. And we tried our hardest to fit in a life time worth of cuddles.

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The words we wanted to say to you were the hardest. For the most part the words turned into tears somewhere between our minds and our mouths. But our tears spoke loudly. Each tear was trying to tell you we loved you and would miss you. They were trying to tell you that you deserved more than this and that we would never forget you. And, as we left that room, and said goodbye for the last time, we could only hope that you had heard our tears.

On paper, your little life will now be recorded in one single date. When written, there won’t be a dash after your date of birth and before the date of your death. So instead we will give you your own unique dash, preceding the day of your birth. Because in that dash, your life was overflowing with possibilities. We will continue to talk about how much you danced around inside your mum. How we could see you kicking from across the room. We will remember how tired your mum got as you grew bigger and bigger. We will laugh about all the names your big sister came up with for you, and we will be thankful your mum and dad didn’t listen to her. And, when we are exhausted from telling all those stories, we will continue to talk about how loved you were. And those memories will make up your own unique dash.

When we told people of your passing, our words were met with so much kindness and love. Those who loved us, loved you without question. Everyone told us that they were grieving the loss with us. Their love was both needed and appreciated.

But to us you weren’t a loss. You were a little girl. You were pink blankets and handmade booties. You were the perfect button nose and softest newborn skin. You were tiny little fingers and precious little feet. You were the image of your big sister and chubby enough to completely fill our arms. You weren’t a loss or an angel. You weren’t too perfect for this earth. You were just a little girl – a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a cousin and a niece.

In time we will cry less and laugh more. We will stop being so gentle with each other and our smiles wont need to be forced. But we also wont hustle and rush our way through this dark cloud. So, listen carefully to our tears Georgia, because they are filled with so many words of love.

I will love you forever my little Georgia-Berry – I know we would have been great mates.

From one little sister to another – I love you tttttttthhhhhhiiiiiissssss much.

Aunty Sarah xxx