Today, in 1993, my baby brother died.
He was the fourth child, the youngest at the time.
I had just turned 6.
The radio doctor had come out, to see Adam who had finally screamed himself into an exhausted sleep and told Mum to let him sleep, stop being a pedantic mother, there’s nothing wrong with him.
Mum waited until 5:30am and first light. She went to the neighbours and asked to be taken to the hospital. She called my Dad who was in Sydney for work and told him to come home.
Adam never came back from the hospital.
He was 10 months old.
He never got his first Christmas.
There are a lot of firsts that he, my parents and us girls, were robbed of that day.
I didn’t realise I wasn’t at the hospital until recently.
My mind had formed a memory that didn’t exist, as a way of me to deal with it, to process what had happened.
I remembered being in the doctor’s office when they came in and told us he didn’t make it.
I remember the swing of the doors when they took him away.
I remember wondering if I would ever see him again.
I remember Mum collapsing into Dad and Dad saying nothing, just trying to hide the tear that had escaped.
I remember it all, down to the posters on the wall and the number of drawers on his desk.
I remember at the funeral, his white coffin was so tiny that the flower arrangement was bigger than the casket it rested on.
My Uncle David was meant to read a poem but he teared up in the middle of it and couldn’t finish it.
At the graveyard, my Mum asked me to get the rosary beads from the top of the coffin before they lowered it into the ground and I argued because I didn’t want to, but I did it anyway.
At the wake, I sat in my Nanna’s big armchair and ate a whole bowl of mint leaves and no one stopped me.
My Mum told me years later that she focused on Heather and I in the after thinking Maddison, at 2 was too little to comprehend what was happening and that about a week after he died, she turned to Mum and said “I miss Adam too.” And that hearing that sentence broke her heart again.
I remember that Christmas, Adam still got 3 toys. A little drum, a Tonka truck and a spider that you pull along with a string, it has uneven wheels on it’s feet so it moves up and down. Three gorgeous toys and no little boy to play with them. No giggles and squeals.
Mum said she just couldn’t take everything back. It was just too hard and it wasn’t fair.
My son, Dexter was given that Tonka truck for his first Christmas. He was 4.5 months old. As Dad gave it to him, he said “Maybe Mummy will tell you about your Uncle Adam some day.” It’s the first time I’ve heard Dad mention Adam in literally years.
Christmas is a wonderful time, but it’s also such an amazingly painful time for so many families.
It’s definitely a time to realise just how lucky we are with what we have and how fleeting life really is.
It’s when we celebrate family because we can. Because family is wonderful. Because we are so very lucky to be here.
And to everyone that is missing someone this Christmas, to everyone who has thought it’s not fair, to everyone who has wondered why me?
I’m thinking of you.
I know your pain.