A poignant picnic

We woke up to some very sad news on Saturday morning. My sister-in-law had gone into labour at just 18 weeks pregnant. They had a baby boy, but lost him two hours later. My brother-in-law said he was a ‘good looking bugger’. Tiny, perfect, but very much not ready to be born.

The only thing we could think of to do that might help in any way was to travel to Salisbury, where they had been staying with my in-laws, and take our nearly-three-year-old niece out for the day so her mummy and daddy could get on with the rather horrific job of registering their son’s birth and death. So we picked her up and took her, DD and DS – who all adore each other, DD being bang on a year older than her cousin, and DS a year younger – to Old Sarum for a picnic.

I hadn’t been there for years, but both DH and I grew up in Salisbury and spent much of our childhood there, running around the ruins of the 1,000 year old castle on the hill and the original cathedral, climbing piles of stones , watching microlights take off from the airfield over the road, and looking over the amazing views of Salisbury and its cathedral spire. We also spent much of our young adulthood up there, getting up to rather less innocent pursuits.  

It was a terribly poignant day, watching those three small, funny, clever, lively, beautiful children dash around, while thinking of the brother and cousin they would never know, who would never kick a ball with them in the sunshine. DH and I were in or close to tears for much of the day, while being very much aware that all that mattered, all we could do, was make sure that our niece had a happy day.

I think we called it right. Her dad called after we’d dropped her back at her Grandma’s house, exhausted and grinning, and said that it was the best thing we could have done. He’s being terribly philosophical at the moment, and I know he’s right that some things just aren’t meant to be, or happen for a reason, but I really don’t know how anyone deals with something like that. As I get older, I know more and more couples who have been through terrible tragedy with born and unborn babies, or are dealing with children who need a lot of medical support. I have held my two healthy little ones extra tight this weekend, appreciating how precious they are and how much of a bloody miracle it is that they are here.

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