Norah’s book has always been ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, by Maurice Sendak, we read it to her throughout my pregnancy, nicknamed her our Wild Thing, and painted scenes from the book to hang in her room. When Norah died, Where the Wild Things Are took on a new meaning; we felt as though a forest grew all around us, with an ocean tumbling by and no boat in sight. Eventually we found ourselves on stable ground again, but now we were lost amongst the Wild Things, navigating the wilderness and unable to find our way home. At some point in our grief, we found the courage to confront some of the Wild Things, and whilst we didn’t have the power of staring in to all of their yellow eyes and taming them with a magic trick, we noticed we had the power to be still.
In our stillness, we agreed it would be most sensible to avoid making any decisions whilst our grief felt so overwhelming. Whilst our decision making and stepping forward in life was on hold, we felt stuck, lost amongst the wilderness without any direction to stumble in. And then last summer, whilst we were in this no man’s land, my best friend amazed me by tackling the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. I marvelled at her achievement, quietly musing over the perceived fact that I wouldn’t ever achieve such a physical feat, until I heard a sentence in a conversation in response to her plans for climbing England’s tallest peak soon after, “I’ll climb it with you.” I recognised that voice, it was my voice, agreeing to something I had sworn just a few weeks earlier would never happen!
Over the last year our family has stumbled by together, whilst we may have felt without aim and clear direction, we have taken steps together. Walking together, immersing ourselves in nature, and taking in as much life as we can are steps we all take to keep Norah close, so taking on a couple of mountains felt like a natural progression. As we should know by now, life doesn’t always align with our plans, and our first climb for Norah’s Wild Rumpus became ‘and then there were three’, illness and injury wasn’t in our favour! With any of our family missing, we didn’t plan to complete the climb, but with our backpack loaded with the names and faces of our lost children, we made the decision to keep going. We were taking photos of very missed sons and daughters to the top to hold them at the highest point in England, and whilst I had no desire to attempt my first mountain without my best friend at my side, with her encouragement and belief in our abilities we shuffled onwards, with nerves threatening to overwhelm us as much as grief had barely a year before.
The day was long, hot and relentless. Scafell Pike was our first mountain, and on this day in particular our inexperience played in our favour. Whilst we couldn’t see the top of the peak, we continued to underestimate how far we had to climb and marvelled at our progress, whilst we thought we had an hour to go the heat continued to feel just about bearable. What felt like an hour was actually closer to three, the loose scree underfoot for a third of the mountain slowed our momentum considerably. Once the summit was finally in sight after several false starts a new wave of energy propelled us to the finish, I stumbled over the rocks as quick as I could to reach the top and laughed aloud as we stood with the mountain at our feet. I held Norah’s photo along with thirty others as high as I could without risking a flurry of paper flying away; we had made it, and we raised our children up to the tallest point in England.
Norah, Jacob, Lainie, Ben, Eilys, Bear, Henry, Violet, Arthur, Emma, Oliver, Theophile, Kaspar, Noah, Brody, Sebestian, Temperance, Lily Mae, Elizabeth, Callum, Dominic, Luke, Emilia, Little Mus, Isaac, Callie, Aryan, Freddie, Rae, Calum.
Between us we’ve all built up a few walking demons to exercise, and when recovery allows it our family will be smashing Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis all in the name of Norah’s Wild Rumpus. We are so proud of the strength and resilience Norah has given us, and together we are walking, writing, and sharing to prove that there is life after loss, and there is hope in all that we do. Our children are our world, and they mean so much more to us than tragedy. We miss them, we mourn them, but above all we love them.
You can donate to Norah’s Wild Rumpus, raising money for The Lily Mae Foundation who are supporting families through baby loss, here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nohm . If you would like to take Norah on an adventure of your own, get in touch and we will send you a card for #NorahsWildRumpus.