Some months ago I agreed to do a skydive. I agreed because I wanted to be able to do something to help a friend build a legacy. I wanted to make a small difference to someone. I wanted a little life to matter.
Because when a baby dies, the world takes a gasp of horror, sheds a mournful tear and is broken, a little bit. But then normal breathing returns, tears dry up and the broken pieces, if not mended, are swept away again. And it has to be like that. The world has to keep on turning for most of us. The sun needs to rise and the new babies need to be born. And all those parents with arms that scream with the emptiness know this too. But I imagine it hurts. I imagine that the pain is a searing, white hot mess of anger, despair and fury. I imagine it stinks. And I can only imagine.
I cannot do any more than to imagine, and then to do something. Hopefully to help, perhaps to heal a little.
The Matilda Mae Skydive soon grew. Our team of nine began to take on fundraising projects, and with this growth the foundations of the Matilda Mae legacy were being built. And then we did it.
As we drove to the hotel on Friday 19th July 2013, we listened to a special collection of songs that Ghostwriterdaddy put together for the team. Each song meant something special to me, and as we listened the sun beat down on the already hot road. The traffic was crawling at such a slow pace that there was nothing else for me to do, other than to think. Something I have not allowed myself to do properly for such a long time.
And I thought of Baby Tilda.
A baby I never met, never knew and never will. A baby who’s absence cuts through every day and I don’t even know why. I have heard of babies dying before; I do not go through life with my mind closed and my spectacles set to rose tint. I know that awful, horrific tragedies happen each day and I know that it could surely have been me and my baby. But it wasn’t. It was Matilda. And that hurts.
I thought about Matilda and I thought of her family, and I wondered what they truly thought about me sitting in this car, listening to songs with such poignant titles and lyrics. What did they think about the fact that I was on my way to throw myself out of a plane- a plane, for goodness sake!-, and what did they think about the fact that I was looking for some signs that it really was the right thing to do?
Because that’s what I was doing. I was reading Jennie’s blog. I was listening to songs that will forever turn my thoughts to my beautiful friend and her beautiful daughter. I was looking at myself sitting there and I was wondering what exactly it was that I was looking for.
Something to tell me I would be ok.
Something to tell me Jennie would be ok.
Something to tell me that this was going to make a difference.
Something to tell me that there really is something out there.
I struggle with this. I’ve told Jennie that I struggle with the idea of belief and of the afterlife. I was brought up a Christian, and we went to church, to Sunday school. We said our prayers and we just knew. And then life interrupted and other ideas filtered in and now I don’t know. I know there is something. It cannot be nothing. It cannot.
But signs? Do they exist? Are those little feathers my mum picks up really little signs that her loved ones are near? Does Baby Tilda really catch the bubble kisses that so many lovely people send up to her? Do our loved ones really look down, love us and protect us?
Life and death hung in the air all around us as we emerged on Saturday morning. I saw it in Jennie’s eyes as they filled with tears even before breakfast. I saw it in Team Matilda Mae. There was a subdued quality to our conversations as we all caught ourselves repeatedly and remembered why we were here. Why.
And yes, I was excited. I was scared, but I was excited. I kept the emotion to the back, I made sure that Jennie was ok. I kept searching for her to make sure she was ok. And then. And then the first members of the team were called and they climbed into their jump suits and I knew that we were really going to do this. I left Jennie and found refuge in Ghostwriterdaddy. I clung.
And then I was in my own jumpsuit. I was blowing kisses to Baby Tilda. I was walking across the airfield with legs filled with jelly and a heart filled with tears. And I was asked why I was doing this jump.
Why? I couldn’t speak. Instead, safely away from my husband and from Matilda’s mother, I let those tears speak for me.
My friend’s baby died.
And the air stilled and the world held it’s breath and the ground came up and the sky pressed down. And the words I needed to hear were carried on the rising wind.
Let’s make it a good one then.
And I think it was.
I clung to my instructor as the plane climbed for 15 minutes. I prayed for my hands to stop shaking. I actually looked out of the windows at the clouds and I actually thought I might see Matilda Mae! I actually wondered what it might be like up there. If up there actually was where we go. I actually looked and looked and looked.
And then we fell.
The cold rushed up to bite me.
It was so cold.
And then we were pulled back and my arms were slapped and we started to stabilise.
And then we floated.
Can you see that rainbow?
Yes. I saw that rainbow. Perfectly round. Perfectly perfect. At it’s centre, my reflection. Complete with parachute.
Not my words. Not something you see every day.
We circled that rainbow. I waved to that rainbow. A smile stretched across my face and calm descended like a soft woollen blanket. I realised that I was floating in the sky and that I was alive and that I was living and that I was lucky. We circled that rainbow and then we floated straight through the middle.
And before I knew it, we were back on the ground and my heart was stilled and the sky was back up in the sky and nothing was pressing me down anymore.
And I still don’t have any answers. I still don’t know if what I did made any real difference. I still don’t know if I know what happens or where we go or what is there when we do. But I think I believe in signs. I think that rainbow was there for Team Matilda Mae. I think it meant something. I think Baby Tilda caught those kisses after all.
And we did it. Team Matilda Mae leapt from planes, raised money for the Lullaby Trust. And we hope that you know why.
We’re still fundraising. http://www.justgiving.com/teams/MatildaMaeSkydive