My phone rang, Helen, my stomach sank, I knew I was expecting her call and I knew what the call was about. Jamie is back from the coroner and ready for me to go and see him. He had died on the 23rd of September and I hadn’t seen him since, it was the 2nd of October and it felt like it had been forever. I wanted to see him now, right now, but I had been told it probably wouldn’t be till the 3rd or 4th, so I was trying to keep myself busy and I was with one of my best friends, Craig, at the Trafford Centre, he had driven me there to try and find something to wear for the funeral…something I knew I needed to do and if I had got it done before I got Jamie back I could use my time with him rather than walking round the shops in a daze. There had been a crash on the opposite carriage way and it was stand still so I couldn’t have gotten back in time, I had no choice but to do what I had planned…I was gutted.
It took what felt like forever but I found what I wanted to wear, I had been fighting between colour and happiness celebrating his life or black, because that’s the colour of the hole I was lost in. Black it had to be. I couldn’t see any reason to celebrate. I had though informed the kids at school that were attending that they could wear hoodies as that was Jamie favourite item of clothing and he would forever get in trouble at school for wearing one under his blazer!
I couldn’t sleep that night, all I could think about was Jamie, laying in his new trainers and his tracksuit, under the Union Jack quilt just down the road. I couldn’t work out how I was feeling, part of me was looking forward to it, I was getting to see my boy, but then I would have to keep reminding myself it was just his body, he was gone.
At some point I must have fallen asleep as I woke up in the morning being sick. I had taken all my anti sicknesses and nearly had it under control. I called Helen and she said I could come down as soon as I was ready, it’s hard for me in the mornings with my lupus, my body hurts all over and I am so fatigued it makes everything feel like I’m climbing Everest. But I managed to get dressed and stop heaving by about 11 so made my way down. I knew I would have to leave at three to be back for William as he was very anxious when I wasn’t there unless I had previously explained when I wouldn’t be there, and as he had stayed over at my mum and dads while I was at the Trafford Centre the evening before, I hadn’t seen him to explain.
I got to Taylor’s and Helen’s smile greeted me at the door, putting me at ease slightly…we stood in the main room while she explained where Jamie was and gave me a doorbell buzzer, if I needed anything I was just to press the buzzer and she would come through. She apologised for any noise as they would be dealing with other customers, it was usual that people would visit after working hours for peace but she knew this was different and I needed to see him now. She made me a cup of tea and we walked round to the rooms.
She guided me into the corridor and pointed towards his room, the door was slightly ajar. I walked towards it feeling the shaking through my body, a got to the door and there he was. Arms out over the top of the quilt pulled up to his chest, his tracksuit top zipped up and most importantly, my favourite necklace on. I had asked Helen to put it on him as I wore it everyday, I felt it would be a little bit of me there looking after him. I hadn’t decided if it would go with him yet, but that wasn’t something I was thinking about now. I’d visited body’s in chapel of rests before and know the person doesn’t look like themselves any more, and Jamie had been gone for 11 days now, so I was prepared for him not to look like the Jamie I had known, the Jamie I had left at the hospital.
I walked straight in and kissed his forehead, he was so much colder than I had made myself ready for. With my hand on the top of his head, my favourite thing was playing with his thick dark hair, which now felt thin, I ran my fingers through it, pulled up a chair and held his cold hand. They had already gotten bigger than mine, he was a touch taller too-which he was so proud of! Helen had said his tracksuit top was zipped all the way up. I said it wasn’t really how he wore it, she looked at me with her kind eyes and said ‘please, for your sake, don’t zip it down’, and straight away I knew what she meant.
Sitting next to him Helen left us and I just stared, just like the day he was born, I remember sitting on the bed as he slept still in his cot just staring at him like wow its just you and me now little man. Thinking how incredible it was he had just come out of me, first time mother mind blown kind of feelings. Now I was staring at him, and my mind was more than blown. I sat with him, holding his hand, stroking his hair, putting it how he had it, kissing his head, wishing he would take a breath and the nightmare would be over. I stayed with him till I had to go to my mum and dads ready for William to come home, and I had to stay there, it had been too much. I cried all night, again, every time I closed my eyes he was laying there, it was too much.
I went to see Jamie everyday for five days, and each day he became colder, and bluer, his face was changing, his hands were locked into place, his eyes were sinking, I had to make the decision not to see him any more. It was a really hard decision, harder than I thought, but in my head I knew that if I saw him one more day and he looked worse then that would be the image I would never be able to get out of my head. The only thing was that I had designed a coffin for Jamie, I didn’t want a wooden box or a wicker basket, I wanted it to look as far from a coffin as I could get and I wanted it to show everyone the Jamie I knew. So, I had sent over 100 photos of his smiling face to a company called ‘Colourful Coffins’ in Oxford, with my favourite few photos being large on the lid and at the head and foot, and then the rest down either side…but as this was a bespoke coffin it was taking time and that would mean I wouldn’t get to ‘see’ Jamie in the coffin for a few days. I still wanted to come and be there with him even if I couldn’t see him I knew he was there and I wanted to be there for him.
The coffin arrived on the 10th of October. I had taken William to the funeral home before Jamie had arrived there to help him understand what was happening, to explain this is where Jamie will be staying until the funeral, so he wasn’t wondering where he was and didn’t know how to ask, as he still hadn’t spoken about it further than me telling him on the day that Jamie had died. I asked him if he would like to come and see the coffin and explained Jamie would be inside it but he wouldn’t be able to see Jamie as I knew that would be too much for him, knowing his personality, he is the opposite to Jamie in nearly every way. We went with my mum as she wanted to see it too, I was trying to hold it together for William but seeing all those smiles was hard, knowing how truly happy Jamie was and that all this was just so wrong was hard, too hard. Helen was standing with us and after William had looked round the coffin and noted some of the photos he remembered being taken she asked if he would like to go and play with her children in the other room, he was more than happy to go with her, you could see she was a wonderful mother as well as a perfect professional. And then I lost it.
I took pictures of Jamie when I first went to see him, and I took some of the coffin. Those images will never leave my mind but his brother is seven, and I don’t know if at some point he would wish he had been old enough to see. I want to make sure I have done everything to help William through this whenever the stages hit him. I don’t think its weird and if any of you loose anyone close I want you to know that’s what I did and it’s ok if you feel you want to do it too, maybe not for the same reasons, but there is no right and wrong and that is what is so hard to learn.