Yesterday was the first ever Walk A Mile In My Shoes event in Fermanagh and I am very happy to say that I brought it to the county. It was very well attended and it was lovely to see familiar faces. We were all there for the same reason - to remember a wee baby who has gone too soon. Everybody gathered and put on Sands t-shirts, our walking shoes, and our best composure to participate in a walk that may not have been long in length, but was long in significance.
Before the walk, I was approached by an elderly gentleman. He asked if I had any information about the group and unfortunately I, or the co-ordinator, did not. I told him that we were on social media and the internet and he said that he had access to the internet. We told him the internet address and then he said the most heartbreaking sentence, something that will stay with me forever.
He said, 'because I had one' and obviously meant a baby dying. He got physically upset and turned away, brushing off our words as he walked back to his car. His wife was in the car and she just gave me a sad type of smile. And then they left.
I found the whole thing heartbreaking. In all honesty, that was probably the first time he has ever spoken in public about his baby. It would not have been something acceptable fifty, forty, thirty, or even twenty years ago. As awful as it is to bury Patrick, at least I have some type of platform to talk about him.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to live your whole life with silent grief, with a hole in your family that you cannot speak about. This is why I find working for Sands and organising events for bereaved families so important.
I wish I had of given him a hug, or invited him on the walk, or blown up a balloon for him to release. I wish I had been able to do something, anything, to relieve his hurt. I only hope that he will search the internet for us and find some information, some solace, in what is there. I hope he can embrace his baby and find comfort in the fact that people are here now if he wants to talk and remember.