Ella, Leo's older sister, would be 3 and a half years old.
Baby Footprints Caught In Time
Ella's were taken by the hospital on the night she was born at 26 weeks and Leo's 2 months after he arrived (swinging from me in a sling) when I had his soles painted orange and pressed onto a tile
Only very occasionally now do I get swiped by an emotion that rocks the foundations upon which I stand. The walls begin to crumble and the floor cracks and sways. But I'm quick these days, quicker than I ever was before and I can usually harness the feeling of sadness or anger before it gets to do any lasting damage. And for that I thank time and for what came with it, a slip of hope. When we were reeling from the raw loss of Ella and I shouted at Chris to tell me how he appeared to be, 'sort of coping' (as I was raging against every minute of every day) he said with a look of sorrow, 'time doesn't heal George, you just learn over time to live with the pain'.
In the beginning, when your body is being smashed by a chain against every pillar in every land there is nothing anyone can say or do to stop the heavy tears from falling like oil and the searing pain from blistering your heart. As you scream for your precious baby l.i.f.e seems utterly worthless. The complete sadness, emptiness and hopelessness I battled with sliced my spine like a butcher's knife from my scalp to my heel. The hole of despair I dropped into was deep and dark. I didn't see it at first, but thankfully for us both Chris was right. It took a crippling amount of time but slowly I began to ride my blown-to-pieces heart alongside that of a life I was picking my way through, and after months of anguish and hurt a tiny pocket of hope appeared on the horizon.
Leo Phoenix will turn one year old on Friday 30th March 2012. One whole year ago Chris was preparing to leave Uganda for England and I was there waiting for him like a large ship laden down with the most precious of cargo. Our beautiful Leo roared into our lives at 14:20 on Wednesday 30th March 2011 and he has embraced the world at full tilt since. We are in absolute awe of him. I am not the woman I was before I lost my first child and the small wisp of life that followed just months after her, but I am now settled into the familiar skin that Leo likes to lick and rub and the frame he swings off. I still carry my own private heartache and not a day goes by when I don't think of my precious daughter, but I smile a hell of a lot more now and love even harder.
My precious son who tumbles under the bright African sky has taught me that.