CW TW child death suicide bullying
These are not my children’s real names. Media attention is not welcome, thanks. I do not consent for my words nor images to be republished anywhere else.
Izzy’s birthday is on Monday, but she’s with her dad, my first husband, for half-term.
This evening I took her out for an early birthday meal, an oriental buffet. She loves teppanyaki and sushi. They have whippy ice-cream and a chocolate fountain. Pancakes to order…
Izzy is the first of my children to celebrate their birthday this year.
Iggy would have been 16 last month.
I mused that Iggy would have loved the sushi, but would have drowned it in soy sauce. He’d have loved the teppanyaki too, although he’d have eaten the mushrooms raw not cooked. Cooked mushrooms are slimy, he couldn’t eat slimy food.
Pancakes, ice-cream and chocolate fondue… he’d have made a sloppy homogenous mess of that. He would have got it all over his grinning face.
Halfway through getting my plate of teppanyaki, I spotted the teriyaki sauce. Iggy’s favourite.
Fighting back tears, I try to smile and carry on eating. I can’t swallow. I twist the fork in the noodles, staring at them.
That familiar bag of snakes writhing in my belly is back. One of the snakes has unfurled and is squeezing my throat. Another squeezes my heart.
Izzy has noticed my mood crashing. She manages a Mona Lisa smile and picks the prawns from my teppanyaki. “You got extra prawns for me, right?”
If she’s missing her brother on her birthday meal, she doesn’t let on. She doesn’t want to add to the burden I’m carrying.
She does add to my burden though, inadvertently, because her stoicism makes me worry that she’s bottling things up, that it’ll lead to mental health issues for her. That I could lose her too.
I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders now. This heavy world in which my teenage boy did not feel ok about being autistic and gay. Could not rise above taunts from school bullies. Felt weird, and wanted to blend into the background, avoided drawing attention to himself. Trained for his DofE expedition and filled in the forms for his work experience, passing for feeling ok. But then quietly and deliberately looking for the nearest exit.
I’ve gone past getting triggered by autism parents talking about their grief for their living children. I grieve for my daughter, who discovered her brother’s body. Who has grown up too quickly, and developed a dark side at such a tender age. Who hides her own grief to protect her family.