Love lies folded
Posted on July 9, 2013
I gave away a big bag of Boodi’s clothes to Geelong Mums on the day of his first birthday party last month and I was assailed by the memories of his little baby days, and how much he has changed over the course of a year. I have a box containing baby cards, his hospital wristband, first little pair of socks and the soft little knitted beanie that he wore home from the hospital, among other small treasures.
I was looking this week at some baby clothes that my own mother had kept to remember her babies, little pink and blue things. Looking at my older brother Grant’s sweet blue 1960’s tunic with the embroidered horses upon it, I shed a tear, picturing in my head the studio portrait of him in this outfit, all plump arms and legs and cheeks like Boodi, blond hair combed into a sticky up tuft in the middle. Any of us only have our babies for a short time, before they grow and change and begin their journey further and further away from us towards independence but I can’t imagine what it is like to lose a baby not to growing up but to the grave.
When my mother birthed Grant, my grandmother, MaMa, bestowed on her the lovingly preserved little linen pillow case that my father’s infant head had rested upon. Tenderness lies folded in wait. That was 46 years ago, and still the 66 year old pillowcase remains, though the man who was that babe died himself twenty years ago.
A few years before MaMa herself passed away, my Aunty Lynette read out to me the sweetest, saddest little letters that I have ever encountered. They were from my father and his little brothers, written to MaMa when she was in hospital after having her baby girl, Gail. The letters are full of childhood excitement, and guilelessness, and love, waiting for a new baby to come home with their mother. MaMa came home with empty arms. Gail lived only a few days, her perfect, healthy life full of the abundant promise of all new babies was stolen by a botched forceps birth from which she could not recover. She told my aunty years later that she had been able to smell the heavy stink of alcohol on the doctor’s breath throughout the ordeal of the birth. She said that afterwards she wished so hard to never have to see him again that she thought that the force of her desire drove him out of town months later.
The small white grave stone has always drawn me, in my rambles around the Rushworth cemetery. My father gifted me the same middle name as Gail, of Suzanne/Susanne. She is one amongst the family dead, up in that back corner, close now to her mother, and brother. The little grave was mostly unadorned by flowers until Dad and Grant died, and my grandparents began to visit again, leaning down to lay hands upon her smooth marble. I wonder if MaMa kept any of her tiny things, or if such things were hidden, tucked into dark places where voices could not reach, a grief which dare not speak its name, so that stone was the only thing that remained.
I had never heard of this before, but yesterday was TSM loss Remembrance Day so I wanted to remember Gail Suzanne, and MaMa, who came home without a baby in her arms, who kept love enfolded in so many places.
(This post is linking up with #IBOT over at Essentially Jess )