Yesterday was Red Nose Day. Every year I'll buy a pen or make a donation, but this year was different. Because on Monday one of E's little friends at family daycare was buried. He died of SIDS and that is the cause that Red Nose Day funds go to.
I couldn't let the day pass without doing something - neither could R, our carer. She hasn't slept properly since L died. I guess we just were looking for something, anything that could provide some kind of outlet for what we feel at the moment (her even more so than me - she loves all the children that she looks after like they are her own).
And so on Thursday we hit upon the idea of having just a small afternoon tea the following day - coffee and cake at R's house when all the parents arrived after work to pick up the children. We would all gather, eat a little, have a chat and make a donation to the Red Nose Day cause.
We let the boy's parents know we were doing this, and collecting money in memory of L, and they decided to come along.
Their grief is raw.
And how I admire them for getting up and coming out and visiting the place where, just weeks ago, their little boy used to be looked after, and seeing the other children who will grow up and play and laugh when their son will not.
They sat quietly at times while the rest of us talked about work, kids, daily life. But they also joined in, saying things like "L used to do that".
I wonder how I would react if I were in their shoes - would I have met up with the parents of the other kids at daycare if I had buried a child four days ago? I suspect I would not. And yet I realised as we talked that those poor people must go on, they have to remember that L was here. He was here. We knew him, we adored him. We will not forget him. Perhaps when you have lost a child who could not yet speak well, you feel an even stronger need to cling to his presence on this earth ... I'm not sure why I think that; maybe because words inform so much of what we perceive as individual character?
Arriving at R's place we all gave the parents a hug and said how sorry we were. The words are pitifully inadequate yet still we all, of course, offered them. There were lots of tears, but there was laughter too - it's hard to articulate, but in that kitchen there was almost this sense of solidarity, of a quiet kindness that goes beyond words. About 15 of us went, we all lingered, leaving only when the kids were ready to be taken home to bed.
To just be there is all we can do.
Last night I couldn't sleep for thinking about the pain those lovely people have had to endure, but today I feel a kind of warmth when I think of the dozen or so people who just came, looked some fellow parents in the eye, offered a hug and then sat and chatted with them.
It was only a small gesture, but I hope it has helped them ... if even just a little.