In January we welcomed a healthy, albeit premmie, baby into our world and began discovering a whole new way of parenting – one that doesn’t involve therapists, medication and tube feeding.
In February, Aidan started school – something 4 years ago we would never have imagined happening – and Ollie came home from hospital. Aidan revelled in the role of big brother and seemed to grow up overnight.
By March we had achieved a pleasant routine of school, hospital, sleepless nights with Ollie and a whole range of exciting adventures including a visit from Giggle and Hoot to Aidan’s hospital bed, a Wiggles Concert and even two date nights for a tired mum and dad!
April brought Easter and our first special event as a family of four. We had an Easter Egg hunt, went to Bear Cottage and had a little glimpse of what life as a family of four could be.
May, a dream come true, as I celebrated Mother’s Day with both boys and received my first gift from the school Mother’s Day stall. Never has a wind chime, photo frame, socks and a coffee mug meant so much!
June was all things sport with World Cup Fever in full swing as well as a trip to the cinema to watch State of Origin, all of which culminated in the greatest sporting event of my lifetime – Aidan’s first ever school sports carnival. That afternoon he bid farewell to his classmates and teachers for the last time.
Of course July brought with it the biggest change of all – losing our precious Aidan to Pearson Syndrome. And so began our journey from parents of a terminally ill child to parents of a deceased child – a completely different existence for us. We said goodbye to not only Aidan but to our extended family at the children’s hospital, Bear Cottage and Aidan’s primary school. We said goodbye to our roles as carer and our complete way of life for almost six years.
In August, we celebrated the first of many major events without our precious boy – his 6th birthday. Instead of cake and presents, we marked the occasion with the scattering of his ashes at his beloved Manly.
More changes came in September as I learnt I was being made redundant from my job at a time when more change was the last thing I wanted or needed. It was also a bittersweet Father’s Day for Anthony – his first with Ollie as well as his first without Aidan.
In October, having said to the Carers Pension as a subsidy to my part-time income, I returned to work full-time for the first time in 6 years. Instead of the carer to my terminally ill son and a part-time stay-at-home mum to Ollie, I was a now a working professional again. With an 8 hour work day and a 4 hour commute, Anthony became Ollie’s primary carer and my heart broke a little more. On the upside, Anthony also started a new part-time job and was finally confident in the workplace.
November was a month of milestones, neither of which we felt much like celebrating. Anthony and I marked 10 years since our first date and five years since Anthony’s car accident and resulting head injury. Both occasions left us wondering, “what if”
Then came December, traditionally one of the hardest months for grieving families. Where last year we had spent many nights looking at light displays, reading our beloved collection of Christmas books and talking excitedly about Santa, this year was a battle of emotions, end-of-year fatigue and still more sleepless nights with an almost one-year-old who is yet to master the art of a full-night sleep.
I doubt we will ever again experience a year like this again, with so much changes and upheavals, and yet I am scared to say goodbye to 2014. It was the year my brave boy went to school, the year I held him for the last time and the year we were at last a family of four. For all its sadness 2014 is one year we will always treasure.