This weekend we ventured to the Midlands to visit the home of a cheeky blue tank engine. The in laws were supposed to join us but illness cut their time a bit short which was sad but we still managed to have fun! As we were in that neck of the woods we had to pay a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum.
For those who have not been, the NMA is essentially a massive park with lots of lovely memorials big and small, the large round memorial on a hill that you see on the TV in Remembrance Sunday is there (and it is stunning). As well as the big well known memorials there is a section full of little gardens dedicated to various causes – some a bit obscure, all very meaningful.
Tucked away behind a little metal gate is the Sands garden.
The garden is beautiful and parents are invited to leave a pebble in memory of their baby. I’d come prepared with Rory and Henry pebbles and they looked lovely nestled in the flower bed in the sunshine.
We spent time reflecting on our boys and enjoying the peace (well, what peace you can get with a five year old in tow). The son shone and we were grateful for all of our boys in that moment. Then Toby declared that he needed a wee (!) so off him and Matt trotted.
I sat on the bench enjoying the gardens and then it hit me, the Sands garden has hedges and shrubs around its perimeter which cut you off from the world but through the branches you can see glimpses of the world outside. Inside the garden you’re in a bubble with your precious baby, lost in time and surrounded by beauty and outside, life carries on regardless, you can see normal people but you can’t quite reach them and actually the garden is nice and peaceful so you stay a little longer before returning to real life outside the garden.
The garden was a living metaphor of the life of loss families. We do live in a bubble cut-off from normal life on one hand wanting to get back into the real world and the other not wanting to leave out babies behind. As I sat there contemplating this I was suddenly a bit cross that we were cut off from the people outside the garden. Most of the other gardens were fairly open and designed so you can wander through them easily but the Sands garden isn’t. You can only enter one way (again, a bit like our lives – entry only by dead baby if you please).
Of course the garden is secluded to give privacy but sometimes we want to share the beauty of our babies with others and to help break the taboo of baby loss. We are not for tucking away out of sight, loss families are warriors fighting to make something so horrific beautiful and purposeful.