They say that time heals — I beg to differ. It may cloud and diminish generalities, but on this day, every year, the pain is still the pain that only the gut wrenching sorrow that the loss of a child can bring. True that pain is confined to this day and this day alone and in spite of all my efforts and strategies over the years to cope with it, deal with it, or even try to ignore it altogether, I never quite manage to do so.
Some years it hits the night before, when he first became ill, most years it hits early in the morning when we awoke to find him dying from meningococcal meningitis. Some years, I remember the call to the doctor in the early evening the day before telling me not to worry and that it was only a cold and to go to bed and get some rest myself.
I still feel the guilt of doing just that because that is what he told me to do. I will never ever forget the sound of the breathing machine which, for 15 minutes, allowed me to believe that my 9-week-old son was pulling around and was going to recover.
Some years, it creeps up on me, lurking in the background, a feeling of unease and slight nausea, malaise and discontent.
Time does not answer the why, the exactly how has never been really answered, either. Nobody has been able to answer why my baby got meningitis, no one else in the family contracted it or were carrying it. They can only tell me it was highly unusual strain, that it attacked a vulnerable baby and very quickly caused his death.
Time does not take away the anger either — it does help you refine your anger from anger at the world and at everyone to anger at the disease — but that in itself is not enough so you are angry with yourself. You are angry at yourself for listening to the doctors, for not insisting they saw your child earlier — even though common sense tells you differently, and medical science tells you that if he had lived and made it through he would almost probably have been doubly incontinent, deaf and blind, and possibly quadriplegic and brain-damaged as well.
In taking on this anger you also take on some of the blame and the guilt that goes with it.
All things considered, it being a big bad anniversary today has been better than most years — the fact that I have written this maybe indicates that for me time is 30 years, and that after 30 years I can at last look at this more with a rational mind rather than an emotional mind.
However the “what ifs” still linger… and probably always will.
R I P Oliver Mark Wadey
Born: Dec 15th 1982
Time of Birth: 3.42 am
Weight: 9 lb 8 oz
Died: Feb 17th 1983
Time of Death: Registered as 6.12 am
Cause of Death: Suppurative Meningococcal Meningitis