The past weekend was a BIG deal for me, I think the only people who knew this were my parents and my husband. Why did I only share this with them? For me it was something private and I knew it would only be me who would ‘feel’ it.
This weekend was the first weekend Mr Happy and Little Miss would spend some time with their cousins. My hubby’s brother and sister don’t live locally so this was the first weekend everyone was getting together. I always knew this day would come, I hoped and hope the first time would be the worst. I was looking forward to it, as it would be the first time we would be able to get a photo of the five kiddies under the age of four.
My husbands sister has two girls and his brother has one daughter. And myself and my hubby have our daughter and son. Mr Happy is definitely outnumbered. Seeing all the children together, made me think of Alex, our firstborn who was stillborn at 27 weeks in June 2011. He was the first grandchild and grandson to be born on both sides of our families. I know his absence is always felt by me more than others. And this weekend seeing all the children together, made me miss him even more.
I had discussed the prospect of a photograph being taken with my husband, in the weeks leading up to the family get together. I knew a photo would be taken and I fully supported it and looked forward to obtaining one myself. I have a blue teddy which is referred to as ‘Alex Bear’ in our house. It is a cuddly toy I received when he died and after talking to other bereaved mothers, I felt this teddy should be kept to represent Alex in family photos. He sits out of sight in our bedroom, next to a framed photo of Alex. Little Miss is aware of our Alex bear, has some understanding it is special and isn’t to be played with.
We first used ‘Alex bear’ when Little Miss was three months old. We had professional photos taken of her and us as a family. I explained to the photographer at the time, that I had a special toy I wanted in some photos. We had some family shots with ‘Alex’ as well as Little Miss. The photos of her and ‘Alex’ are really special to me and something special for her to look back on as she grows older. We did the same again last year in November, we had professional family photos taken again and have some great photos of Little Miss and Mr Happy with ‘Alex’. The photos make my heart swell with love for my children and gently remind me I am a mother to three.
When the time came at the weekend to gather the cousins for a photo, we made sure their faces were clean and bribed a couple to come and sit for a photo (as they were too busy playing!). I went to retrieve ‘Alex’ from my bag. I explained to Little Miss and my eldest niece (aged 3.5) that this was special ‘Alex bear’ and he would be part of the photo. They both took turns holding him, very cute I thought. When it came time to take photos, we had to be quick, five children aged under four you can imagine the chaos! I only heard one person mention “Oh that’s a nice idea” when I went to get ‘Alex bear’, otherwise I felt the bear was not acknowledged.
While the photo was being taken and afterwards, I was desperate for someone, anyone to ask about, or to look at the bear or make a general comment. After all he is the eldest grandchild, but no words came. I didn’t say anything, I felt by ensuring ‘Alex’ was part of the photo I had played my part, surely someone would like to say something. But nothing. I don’t know what I wanted to hear but I just wanted someone to say his name.
I shared one of the photos I took on my Instagram and Facebook accounts, I was so happy with the photo. It had the five cousins and the Alex bear. As some people may know getting small children to sit still for a photo is next to impossible, but I think family and friends would agree we achieved what we aimed to do. But the photo also makes me sad, seeing Mr Happy sitting as the only boy, fills me with sadness. Not just because he is the only boy, his big brother is missing. What if he never has a brother he can grow up with or a boy cousin he can play with.
I had a brief discussion with the hubby on our way home from the in-laws, and I cried. I cried because I was sad Alex wasn’t there and I also cried because no-one mentioned him. I am so glad my children got to spend time with their cousins its really important to me. I have memories of spending time with my cousins when I was growing up and remember they were good times.
I don’t know when there will be another get together of cousins, but I am glad we have some photos and memories. Family is important and it is also important to me that Alex is awknowledged from time to time.
If anyone reads this and would like to get in touch about anything I have discussed, I would love to hear from you.
NB: Photos used with kind permission of Amanda Ritchie photography