The last Ethel update was back in October 2022. Wow, we have done a lot since: many more Ethel’s, we are up to 46/95, 48% complete. For those who don’t know the Ethel’s are 95 prominent peaks in the Peak District. We have also cycled the length of New Zealand, and are currently making a short documentary adventure film on baby loss, which is being edited as I type. We have gained charity status for Lenny’s Legacy, and have been working hard behind the scenes to develop the charity into an organisation which will hopefully support many bereaved parents. Mim has been working her socks off submitting funding bids and writing resources. To add to that… we are expecting again, navigating PAL (pregnancy after loss) is hard! and I’m not even the one who’s pregnant! Oh, and I quit my job, completely changed my career, and started my own business. Just a normal 9 months since I wrote the last one then…… Actual LOL!
Today marks one of the first days where Mim and I have done almost nothing, we had an afternoon nap on the sofa together, it was so nice! I think its so easy to think of time on the sofa resting as wasted, but actually I realise more, that time relaxing with my family is one of my favourite. Obviously I also love a good adventure.
As for the Ethel’s we have walked more with friends and family, some a little further afield, The Gun, The cloud, Back tor are a few to name. Its such a great way to explore the Peak District, especially when grief leaves you unable to make decisions on where to walk. As the months pass further from the time I last saw my sons, the pain of losing them is still sometimes as raw as the day we left the hospital. I miss them so so much. That doesn’t change. When we walk, we always talk about the boys.
However, as more time passes I think other peoples’ lives drift further away. I’m struggling to get this into words, but what I mean is that I’m their dad and I miss them so much every day and that just doesn’t change. For others, maybe they expect me to be ok? Or getting better? Moving on? The reality is, as other peoples’ memory fades, mine does not! The memory of holding my boys is one that I hold on to so tightly because I’m scared of it disappearing. Also that’s ok, I get it other people may forget Lenny’s funeral for example, and I’m totally not expecting people to remember. Sometimes though I might feel really sad because that memory is vivid – but I want to remember it, I don’t want a distraction, I want it there because that is one of the few things I have that connects me to their existence.
By the way I’m totally not asking people to change or remember anything, but know that sometimes bereaved parents are holding onto a lot.
So PAL….. this is an absolute mind field of emotions, and like I say I’m not even carrying the baby. I feel happy and grateful for the fact we are pregnant again, I feel scared and sad and joyful and worried and love and anxiety and anger and hope and calm and all the other emotions in one bag! My emotional state is a little like the lottery ball picking machine where all the balls are getting mixed around then out pops a ball with ……. Despair, then then next ball…… excitement…. and our thunderball ……. fear! And they just keep popping out at you! I really do miss the simple life where one emotion was enough, like most blokes ‘Havin a baby? that’s exciting’ – Bereaved parents are really much more complex beings.
One of my overwhelming feelings at the moment is the complete injustice. No one deserves this, especially Mim, she has suffered enough in her life. 5 years using a wheelchair in her 20’s should have been enough of a shit deal, then to have her two babes die, that’s honestly messed up! She has had so much thrown at her yet she still enters this pregnancy in hope, love and kindness, for herself and others- She is one hell of a woman and for those who get to walk an Ethel or two with her you should feel privileged, I certainly do!
We are expecting a little girl, which to be honest now I really don’t care boy or girl, I choose alive. I already love her so much, she has been bought a team hat like Lenny’s green one, and Bhai’s orange one, hers is purple. I’ve also just bought her an absolute beaut of a woolly jumper! I try and speak to her every day. I’m just so scared of losing her, the stakes are so high and it all feels very much like a complete roll of the dice. I just hope we get to take her on some adventures in the flesh, I hope for that more than anything in my entire life.
A few weeks back we were interviewed by Ellie, who is producing the film about our New Zealand Grief adventure, We talked about lots of things, but one question she asked was ‘What does adventure mean to you?’ we both really had to think about this. We both came to pretty much the same conclusion. Adventure for us is about putting yourself out of your comfort zone, doing something that is beyond the ordinary to allow for exploration, whether that is in body or mind. The NZ cycle trip was an A-Typical adventure, totally out or comfort zone! But we also make the Ethel walks an adventure, we go of piste, we explore our emotions and thoughts and discover new places – adventures don’t have to cost the earth, literally!
The Ethel project is the boys’ and I walk with them and in honour of them- this is a part of their legacy and my adventures with them. I highly recommend an adventure of some sort.
Thanks for reading, hopefully the next one will include ……..