***warning – talks about baby loss ***
This afternoon, after a hectic morning at preschool and elsewhere, with the rain pouring, No3 and I settled down on the sofa and decided to make the most of our recent re-subscription to Netflix.
He wanted to watch Lego Ninjago, I would rather have pulled out my eyes with tweezers. So we compromised. He curled up with his choice on the tablet; I decided to revisit The Bridge on the telly, with the sound turned down, and in the certainty that No3 doesn’t understand Danish. Or Swedish. Or subtitles, for that matter.
I’ve already seen both series of The Bridge. Now that I know how it finished; now that I know where these two strange, fictional, utterly engrossing characters ended up, there’s a strange pleasure in watching it again from the beginning. I can focus less on the plot and more on the dialogue, the motivation, the clues which even from the beginning start to mark out the ineluctable intertwined destinies of two Scandinavian detectives. I can observe with dispassion, knowing always where their paths are taking them, and with a kind of comfort in the certainty that no surprises await. I enjoy it more, now that the fiction is more apparent, now that I am not living the story with them.
I didn’t feel too guilty about spending day time watching TV, because it gave me a chance to put in some knitting on my current project – a blanket for SANDS, for their Always Loved, Never Forgotten memory boxes. Knitting is relatively new to me, and until now I’ve only made scarves. Then a friend posted a link on Facebook to a group started by a mum whose baby had been stillborn, and who wanted to support SANDS in a very practical way. Coincidentally, at the same time, another friend had the same tragic experience, at the same hospital. Making a blanket felt important to me; a tiny way to help parents going through something unimaginable.
It’s a strange thing to do, really. Making something by hand for another person is such an intimate, personal thing to do (even if, in my case, the thought eclipses the skill by some margin). Until now, everything I’ve knitted has had an intended beneficiary, someone I’m know and am close to. I’ve chosen the wool, spent the time with a friend or family member in mind and handed it over with love. A happy ending, if you like. This blanket, though, will go to someone who I’ll never know. And, even harder, it will probably go to someone who at this moment has no idea of what their future holds.
I’m still knitting with love, but with sadness too, and with an odd reluctance to finish it, as if by doing so I am somehow influencing someone else’s fate. I’m not, of course, it’s a silly, superstitious reaction. I’m just one minuscule cog in the mechanics of support which committed people are compelled to offer to others experiencing a grief and loss which cleaves a life in two.
We have been incredibly lucky never to have suffered in that way. The sudden death of my cousin last year, though, has made me realise as I never truly did before that there are no happy endings. Even what is most precious is held on trust, with no guarantee of certainty or lack of surprises. There will be a tomorrow, but it is not a given that it will be like today, or that I will want to live it at all.
I don’t believe that life is scripted. I don’t believe that anyone knows what will happen, knows how my story will unfold, as comforting as it would be to to do so. I do know, however, of the power of love, care and compassion in the face of tragedy. They can’t promise a happy ending, but they can offer a hope of a future in the worst of circumstances.
And so, I’ll knit my blanket, knowing that tragedy is unavoidable, but hoping that there will always be someone there to offer comfort.