Navigating Our Way Without You {a letter to Nicholas}

Hi my darling,

We’ve been living without you for 108 days now. I can’t even begin to explain how that feels, trying to live without a piece of my heart. I used to miss you when you were at kindy for the day, and that was only for about five hours, so it’s hard to even comprehend the magnitude of missing you for so many days in a row. No words could do it justice.

But we are doing okay. Some days better than others. We talk about you often and tell funny stories about the things you did. There is a massive canvas image of you in each of the boy’s rooms – the same ones that were in the church at your funeral. It was lucky the printer accidentally printed two, as both brothers seemed to want you up on their walls, looking over them. Your bed is somewhat of a shrine, with all your fluffy toys on it and the photos from your hospital room stuck up on the wall. Sorry that your bed is often also covered in Charlie’s Lego creations, but you know how much he loves his Lego 😉 Sam has set up a little altar where we keep a few photos, mementoes and your special book from kindy, and we light candles for you. There’ll never be any doubt that you are still part of the Love household, at least in spirit.

DSC_3270Sam has written the most beautiful book of memories, remembering little stories about you. He is more outward in his emotion and has times where he cries openly because he misses you, but they aren’t happening quite as regularly now. If he senses me upset, he puts his arm around me and asks if I’m okay. Charlie doesn’t cry, but he’s been known to have late night conversations with us about you. He will retrieve the crystal that Mrs Ashley gave him from the special box he keeps it in and ask if we want to “have a chat with Nicholas”. He scrutinises my face if he thinks I might be upset, scanning me to see if there are tears, even if there aren’t. Perhaps the presence of my tears gives him permission to be sad too.

Charlie went through a phase where I was the only one allowed to do anything for him, and he wouldn’t talk to Daddy very much. But Daddy was so incredibly patient and nurturing and kept persisting gently, even when Charlie was being mean to him, and over time, they’ve become friends again. He’s a treasure, that Daddy of yours and he misses his littlest, super snuggly boy so much.

Mummalove-OReillys-3After your funeral, we escaped to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at Lamington National Park for a few days. It was so beautiful out there and we could watch the stars come out at night. We know there’s a special Nicholas star out there that’s been named in your honour, somewhere within the Southern Cross. Sam and Charlie loved the Birds of Prey and Wildlife shows at O’Reilly’s and Sam even got to hold an owl. Daddy went on a Segway tour while Sam, Charlie and I ventured on the 180 metre zipline that was 25 metres above the ground and took about 15 seconds to travel down. I was pretty amazed to watch our normally risk-averse Charlie offer to go first and casually stroll off the edge of the platform. It was pretty awesome fun to feel like we were flying on the Flying Fox. When we tried to forget why we were there, it was easier to enjoy the break away. I bet you would have loved it, especially the spa on the verandah of our villa. But, actually, pretty sure I wouldn’t have let you go on the Flying Fox.

Mummalove-OReillys-5 Mummalove-OReillys-4 Mummalove-OReillys-6The boys went back to school after about a week off. I think the return to routine and their friends was important, but I found it so hard to go back to school and face everyone. It took all my strength not to dissolve on that journey between the carpark and classrooms. But it gets easier day by day, and I know it was probably good for me to have to come out of my cave. The world keeps turning, and those brothers of yours keep my feet firmly planted in reality. We try so hard to be open and honest in our grief whilst still being present for Sam and Charlie. Tell you what, though, four individuals in one household navigating through their own version of grief whilst trying to travel in the same general direction is no mean feat. We’re just trying to go easy on ourselves, and each other, and doing the best we can the best way we know how.

Mummalove-OReillys-7 Mummalove-OReillys-8I think about you in some way every waking moment of every day. Sometimes when I need a break from the constant buzz, I turn to Netflix and somehow Piper’s prison dramas in Orange is the New Black manages to alleviate the thousands of thoughts running through my head for an hour or so. It’s true when they talk about grief coming in waves, or at least it has been for me. Sometimes I high-five myself for functioning particularly well and then I’ll be blindsided by the sheer hardness of missing you. Even on good days, the tears are never far from the surface and they can be falling before I even realise I’m crying.

It’s pretty quiet around here with one less kid, buddy. Bed times can still be a challenge (yep, you know that Charlie bear is a night owl), but our mornings have been running pretty smoothly and we manage to get to school on time. Well, mostly. I am not driving all over the countryside quite as much without your kindy, pre-Prep and other appointments. I’m not making gluten and dairy free meals as religiously as I was. But you know I’d trade the chaos of three children in a flash just to have you here again. Less than a flash.

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So many people love and miss you, and there’s been such an outpouring of love and support for us as we try to live without you. I’ve lost count of the cards and gifts and messages. We know it must be hard for people to know how to help us. We don’t really know either. We just know we’ll need the kind of friends who can weather the storms with us for the long haul, who can remember, love and miss you with us, and who we can just ‘be’ with, with no expectation of whether we’ll be happy or sad, up or down. And we’re very lucky that we have lots of those kind of friends in our lives. I love sharing photos and videos of you. I know that some people might find it hard to watch them, but they make me happy to see your beautiful spirit and know that your llight continues to shine.

Some days I feel inspired by you to live with passion and purpose, to go out and make every moment count as you did. Daddy and I have turned into sporty spices lately, filling in spare time with pilates, bike rides, netball and beach volleyball games. It feels good to be moving our bodies and feeling stronger and healthier. I think it’s good for the headspace too. But other days it seems far more appropriate to curl up in a corner. And we do if we need to.

We’re just putting one foot in front of the other, trying to face this ‘new normal’ life without you one day at a time.

Love you to the moon and back. To infinity and beyond.

Mum xx

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4 thoughts on “Navigating Our Way Without You {a letter to Nicholas}

  1. I come via Sammie’s post and your Facebook page. I’m so glad Nicholas really does have a special star, I didn’t know it before I commented. How precious are all three of your little boys.

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