I felt it. The rumble. The quiet rage that started to roll yesterday when those initial whispers about the cause of Peaches Geldof’s death started to swirl.
And last night the coroner confirmed it. The 25-year-old’s unexpected and tragic death on 7th April wasn’t caused by a heart attack from her extreme juice dieting as early reports suggested. Instead the toxicology report has stated what nobody wanted to hear: that due to the levels of heroin in her system Peaches Geldof ‘likely’ died from a heroin overdose.
And the anger and disgust at Peaches Geldof – in some circles, amongst some people – is palpable.
Like the people who today and yesterday and on 7th April would have given anything ANYTHING to experience the privilege of being a parent. The people who are desperately trying to conceive, who have faced years of infertility and the rollercoaster of emotion that goes with it. The parents who have suffered the nightmare that is a miscarriage. The trauma that is a stillbirth. Men and women who have spent thousands of dollars on IVF, who have endured cycle after cycle of fertility treatments, who have spent all their savings and borrowed money from family and still have no little baby in their arms to show for it.
Damn right those people are angry. Because today they’re thinking about Peaches Geldof who had two beautiful little baby boys (Astala 23 months and Phaedra 11 months) and they’re thinking, “You stupid, stupid selfish addict. You didn’t deserve to have kids.”
And while I don’t feel that way today, seven years ago I would have. Back then, I was in that angry headspace. (And I ventured there again when I lost my daughter Georgie in 2010.)
It took me close to two years to fall pregnant with my daughter Ava. And I remember as each month ticked over, how the anger and resentment and bitterness festered inside me towards women who clearly couldn’t have cared less they were pregnant or mothers.
“How come THEY get to be mothers?’ I remember howling into my pillow at night as I read about cases of child abuse and neglect that would turn your stomach. I ruminated on stories I heard from friends who were midwives about the pregnant women who were turning up to the local public hospital in labour, only to disappear again for 40 minutes to shoot up. I gritted my teeth when I witnessed parents in shopping centres swearing and berating and manhandling their children. I quietly seethed about a friend’s cousin who was pregnant and regularly smoking pot.
How come THEY get to be parents?
I won’t lie to you. It ate away at me.
Until I realised that my anger and fury were pointless.
Being bitter about someone else’s pregnancy or resentful of the children they have isn’t going to get you pregnant any quicker. Newsflash: Life is not fair. And all that hatred does is drive you crazy and twist your heart. Plus and this is the harder pill to swallow – it’s not your or my call to decide who is and isn’t ‘worthy’ of being a parent.
And the second thing I realised?
Life is hard. People are flawed. And most of us are truly doing our best with what tools we’ve been given in our lives.
And where exactly do we draw the line in the ‘blame the mother’ game, anyway?
We can roll our eyes and belittle the memory of Peaches Geldof for being a heroin addict and for putting her drug addiction before her kids – but every mother I know lives in a glass house. Myself included. Lets put down the stones, people.
If you have EVER looked at your mobile phone while driving your kids in the car – you’ve played Russian roulette. If you’d had an accident and died – how would that make you or I different from Peaches Geldof?
What of the parent who has two wines and then suddenly leaves to pick up their kids from a party and who has an accident because he or she is over the limit?
Or the parent who suspects their baby car seat isn’t installed properly, that the straps are worn or not tight enough? Is that a more understandable mistake? Is it really any better?
We screw up. We’re all flawed. We make disastrous judgement calls.
So hold fire on your judgement of Peaches Geldof today. I’m not condoning her actions. No one can condone a mother taking heroin. Peaches Geldof, I have no doubt, wouldn’t have condoned a mother taking heroin having lost her own mother at the age of eleven because of an overdose. How could she do that? WHY would you do that? I know that’s what everyone is saying. But the simple truth is some people’s demons are bigger than others. They’re harder to run from no matter how hard you try to reinvent yourself.
So for what it’s worth I’m saying this: let go of the anger. It’s not about you, or me, or any of us. It’s about a young woman who tried to outrun her family history. And she didn’t make it. We should only feel sadness. That’s what I think anyway.
Life is hard. People are flawed. And most of us are truly doing our best with what tools we’ve been given.
Amen to that.