2013 has begun in the worst possible way imaginable with the loss of our unborn baby at 19 weeks. She was beautiful and perfect and we were to have named her Lyra May Letcher. For some mysterious reason she died in the womb, one of life's terrible little tragedies. I wasn't prepared for the grief. It is unbearable.
I wouldn't normally blur the distinction between my public and private lives as I detest the contemporary, confessional 'misery industry', veering as it does between mawkishness on the one hand and prurience or even schadenfreude on the other. But I'm blogging about this for a number of reasons.
First, in olden days men wore black armbands to show that even though they were pretending to go on as normal, in reality nothing could be normal again. It's a shame we lost this. This blog is my armband.
Second, I want to thank family and friends who have been magnificent in their support. We've had a flood of texts, calls and emails. Flowers and flapjack have appeared on the doorstep. We've had offers of food and hugs. Yesterday while we were in hospital having the baby induced (God, was it only yesterday?), many lit candles for us, at home, in the woods, and even in a Spanish church. It truly made the difference. And we've been humbled to learn just how many have been through similar experiences. You just never know, do you?
Third, I tend to move in countercultural circles where modern medicine is, sometimes rightly but too often mistakenly, viewed with suspicion (that we have the luxury of suspicion is, of course, a product of its very success). But the NHS has been simply amazing. It's humbling to remember that if we'd been in the wild, as it were, Nomi would probably have died. Everyone who dealt with us, from the doctors who broke the tragic news to the midwifes who took us through the birthing process, treated us with care, compassion, honesty but above all, kindness. How they manage to deal such grief on a daily basis I have no idea. Danny Boyle was so right to champion the NHS in the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It is our greatest institution and its workers our unsung heroes. Thank you all.
And finally, though the last few days have been the most painful we have endured, they have not been without tenderness, love, spiritual clarity or even humour (NHS sick bowls make a fine comedy hat). Nomi was extraordinary throughout. And as we were getting ready to go into hospital we heard a young song thrush singing through the half-light, an early intimation of spring. We opened the window to let the sound in. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.