The first few days after Jamie died are a crazy mix of people, places, things I had to decide, things I was being told, things I needed to know to make these decisions…and all I wanted to do was sit on his bed with the door closed shutting out the world and breathing in his teenage boy smell I was forever trying to clean out of his room but now was so desperate to keep in. I was sat on his bed when my phone rang, it was the coroners office, I couldn’t really remember but I knew there was a decision being made about his post mortem. Because he was a child he couldn’t have his done at the hospital. I had been told the details by the police, there are two different types for children, one more in depth than the other if they aren’t sure at all of the cause of death, and to begin with when the ‘suicide note’ was being taken as that they presumed it would have to be the more in-depth one. The lady was telling me they had seen no reason for an in-depth post mortem and that Jamie would be taken from Huddersfield Royals mortuary to have the post mortem carried out in Sheffield, this would mean I might not get his body back till Friday, or even after the weekend.
Vicky, the Coroner would be coming to see me as there were more choices I had to make, more things I had to be told, things I never thought I would ever have to know about, decisions I never thought I would have to make. Tissue samples would have to be taken and kept and analysed far longer than they would have Jamie, far longer than even his funeral. What did I want to do with them? What do you mean?? Well, you can have them in a little box and keep them in your house, where does a box like that go? Next to the cups? I could have another ‘funeral’ for them, for them to be treated as his body would be and they would be ‘with him’ that way. Or, as he was a healthy young man, his samples could be kept and used to compare to others that weren’t, kept for use in science. I was lost, I couldn’t think what was the ‘right’ answer…I didn’t want slides of his tissue in my house, sat at the back of a cupboard, calling to me…I felt weird having a funeral for a few sample slides…saying the words I was having to prepare about the memories we shared…for slides?? So science it was, I felt then at least they were being useful, it wasn’t making me feel uncomfortable knowing the bits would help to compare to others, helping to see what might be wrong with someone else. I thought that was a difficult question, it had made me feel uncomfortable as if I was going to get the wrong answer, judged in some way, because I didn’t care or cared too much. Nothing prepared me for the next question. The post mortem takes a set amount of time as there are things that need to be done, checked, questions answered, I knew that’s what it was for even though I knew the answers, I knew how he died. But there were still several different ways death could have occurred, and those specifics needed to be answered. I understood that. And then came the question that knocked me off my feet as I never in my life thought I would be asked or have to answer it…I could have his body back earlier if I wanted to see him earlier, or if I wanted the funeral to be organised earlier…but his brain wouldn’t be put back. I felt like I had stopped breathing. Would you like him back with his brain replaced first. Vicky was the most wonderful, gentle, kind lady and I have no idea how I would be able to sit in front of a mother and ask her that question, but she did, and she didn’t make me feel any worse than just the question did. I answered almost immediately, I want his brain putting back in first please. I don’t know how I said the words, I don’t know how I wasn’t sick on the papers in my hand I had to sign to agree to these things. It was like an out of body experience. Another one of those where people say, I don’t know how you are doing this, you are so strong, no I have no idea how I’m doing this either, not a clue. Vicky apologised, I signed the papers, she explained about opening the inquest and how it would be opened and closed (this ended up being the 1st of October), until the post mortem had be completed, the police investigation closed and all the information gathered, then a second date would be set for all that to be heard.
Then as Jamie was a child I was given the option to have him in a cold room, I think it was through the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’. This is a childs bedroom, with a large bed in, a cold room you could use to spend time with your child without it being as formal as the chapel of rest. I had been given so many questions and so many things where happening at the same time I didn’t know what to say, so I thought I would say yes, that way the option was there…if I had said no then the option wasn’t there I know I would have been heart broken if I had wanted it. The more I thought about it the more I thought it wasn’t for us, Jamie would be in a bedroom that wasn’t his, I would be in bed with him, I could imagine if I had come and gotten into bed with him in his room when he was alive, looking at me like I was mad, like what are you doing in my bed?? It turned out another child was in the Huddersfield room and I would have had to go to the Lakes for the nearest one…it wasn’t for us. If he was younger then maybe but, not for us. I felt like being in that bedroom would be like pretending he wasn’t gone, I had to find a funeral director…how on earth do you find a funeral director?
Google…funeral directors, Huddersfield…images, all of them looked like the standard massive front window with vertical louvre blinds, cold, old, not anywhere I wanted to leave my baby, where they shut up shop and leave them alone, with that musty smell and paisley carpet, dark wood and plastic flowers in every corner. Then I remembered, when I used to drive up Manchester Road to sewing club up the road I would pass a massive stone house on the corner of a turn with beautiful gardens on the front, and a memorial seat at the end of the grounds. Weirdly I had remembered thinking how it looked like somewhere I would live, not somewhere I would have down as a funeral directors, but it was as it had a large sign on the side as you drove past…that was it without doubt, that was where I wanted him. I googled again trying to work out where it was stood in my friends kitchen trying to explain to him where it was to see if he could find the number…and eventually we did, Taylors. I couldn’t bring myself to have to say those words again, my son has died, so I e-mailed with the details. About 20 minutes later Helen rang me, and I knew without any doubt she would look after my son as if he was her own. The building was their home, where they lived with their children, Jamie would never be alone, and she even said if at any point in the night I wanted to ring and ‘speak’ to him or have her go into his room and tell him I loved him, she said just ring. She is the most professional yet loving funeral director I would ever have wanted to meet, if I had created her myself from scratch she would be Helen.
I still had so much within the funeral to choose and decide, and all I had in my mind was, I can’t let Jamie down. You don’t discuss with a 14 year old what he would have at his funeral just incase he dies…how would I know what to do to make it what he would want…and not let him down.