i haven't been back there since 6th january. that morning there was a cremation ceremony, a communal one. the remains of all babies miscarried at the RVI in the space of a month or so collected into one small white coffin; the shellshocked parents all sitting separately, all pretending the others weren't there.
it was all just couples. except for one family, who had brought everyone. grandparents, siblings. a toddler. i was angry at the time - it seemed so insensitive! - but D pointed out that they had a right to be there too. (now i'm actually glad that the kids had the option to be there - but i kind of wish someone had warned me it would be a possibility.)
i haven't really talked about it but i mentioned it here.
it was snowing and dark when we left that morning. our car got stuck as soon as we started to move. the girl next door had to help D push while i accelerated. then we helped her push her car from where it was stuck. then D and she both helped a neighbour.
it was quite the farce.
we arrived at the crem really early, and the hearse containing the coffin arrived late. there was a waiting room and a coffee machine, though, so it could always have been worse. (yeah, ha.) and then, contrary to what we'd been assured, the ceremony was pretty religious and entirely harrowing. which did not suit us at all.
my family don't really do visiting graves. we're more a do-not-stand-at-my-grave-and-weep type family. (except without the 'i did not die' part, which i kind of think wrecks it a little.)
i think i've been to my grandad's grave once; i've never been to my grandma's (not that i remember, anyway). this has a perverse symmetry; i was at my grandma's funeral but not my grandad's. my great aunt's ashes were scattered; i was there but i've never been back, even though i kinda want to.
but these last few months i've been kinda-sorta wanting to go and find the snowdrop garden. i looked for it when we were at the crem for the ceremony but didn't find it, was too shellshocked still to actually ask where it was. a few times i've thought that i should go look again, but i've not done. i wouldn't do it at a weekend; i know D would find it weird. he'd go with me if i asked him to but i'd never ask. and it's been hard to find time to make myself go in the week.
and truth be told, i've been too scared to go. like i say, i'm not someone who visits graves. i didn't know what it would be like. i didn't know what i should do.
but the urge has been getting stronger. and so i decided that this morning i would go. last night i looked up the bus routes and this morning i got up and made my way over there.
for those who don't know what a snowdrop garden is (i guess most people round here do?):
A Snowdrop Garden is a special remembrance garden for children who have died, stillborn babies and for lost pregnancies, whatever the cause. It is a place of tranquillity where parents and relatives, regardless of their religious beliefs, can go at any time to remember their children.(taken from the end of this page)
i still couldn't find it this morning. i ended up knocking on the office door and asking the guy who appeared from elsewhere where it was. he sent me off in the right direction and claimed there were signs.
there were no signs. and the garden where babies are buried and the snowdrop garden couldn't be further away from the entrance to the crem and still be in the grounds. they are pushed away to the furthest corner. you would think that in a place where death is all around that maybe it could be acknowledged that Sometimes Babies Die. maybe they could put the evidence of this not in the centre, but not at the very far edge.
you would be wrong.
but anyway. i found the garden. i went in.
and i was shocked.
there are silver plaques round the inside of the fence. plaques with names and dates and 'love mam and dad'. there are windmills and potted plants and windchimes and flowers.
there are teddy bears. some covered in mould, some fresh.
there are cards. and photos. and angels. and memories all around.
i looked. i read the plaques. i looked at the mementoes. i sat, and absorbed the place.
and i wished i'd found it earlier.
and i was angry that noone told me that i could have put a plaque there. that i could have taken mementoes there. i'm still angry. i'm not sure who i think should have told me. but someone should.
i'm not sure if i'm going to get a plaque but i'm definitely going to find out how much it would cost.
but i'm definitely going to take something there.
i didn't stay very long. it was freezing and i wasn't wearing enough layers. then it started to rain. i know when to give up.
and i felt unprepared. i felt that i wasn't ready.
but as i was walking away i wanted to turn back. to go and sit there some more. possibly the whole of the day. stay the night, tomorrow too.
i had to make myself carry on.
but now i've been - now i know what it's like; now i know i can take mementoes there - i will go again. and soon. and be better prepared.
i've been needing to cry and unable to cry recently.
i cried a little while i was there. but i felt somehow unprepared for that, too.
i hope i'll be able to cry more next week. when i return.