Since my gran found out that Francesca had passed she had wanted to do everything she could for us to help us make memories and mark Francesca’s existence on earth. One of my grans great loves is her garden and nurturing her plants, trees and watching them grow into colourful wonderlands. When I was a wee tiny girl, one of my first memories is walking up the park with my gran and her telling me to chap on the fairy doors to see if anyone was home. Now the “fairy doors” were actually the divots in the big trees up the park but I thought that maybe one day if I wished hard enough and chapped loud enough that one day an actual wee fairy would come out and see me. Probably also a key factor in why my favourite book growing up was Enid Blyton: The Faraway Tree. My gran is a great story teller and makes everything to do with nature or greenery magical (not a gene I can say I have caught, my whack is a faux Ikea cactus plant) and really made me believe that fairies, trolls, elves and gnomes were all real….the wee fibber that she is. So, it was only fitting that my granny Frances wanted to offer us a tribute to her great granddaughter, Francesca in the form of a small memorial garden and she wanted to wait until I was better health wise to be able to go out with her and pick the flowers for it.
Both me and Steven were so touched by this offer and were excited to see how Francesca’s garden would look but my god the thought of going out to pick flowers and trees for our baby’s memorial garden was heart wrenching. We shouldn’t be picking flowers for our beautiful baby who died before we even got to see what eye colour she had !! We should have been visiting the garden centre with my gran AND our baby bundled safely in her pram while my gran recounted stories to her of when her mummy was wee and used to love picking flowers with her mummy and granny.
(The legend herself, My wee gran Hughes)
Now my gran has known true heartache in her 86 years losing her husband and soulmate, my papa Charlie to a heart attack in his early 50’s then her son, my uncle Cha to the same affliction at 41. She also lost a baby before birth so instead of having 5 happy mouths to feed in her single end Glasgow house in the 60s she had 4. To me the only person in my family that could have an idea of the type of grief a mum feels when she loses a baby is my gran and she was there for both me and Steven from the day of Francesca’s birth and death. From all the heartache I have seen my gran go through over the years, this was different, this was a new type of grief. There is no rationalising a healthy baby dying at full term. She had phoned me every day towards the end of my pregnancy and probably twice a day when I went over the due date to make us promise to phone her when I was in labour and let her know everything was ok. Except that call came but there was no happy news at the end of the line .. it was simply a call telling her that her great granddaughter had died, and we didn’t know why but also that her granddaughter whom she helped raise wasn’t in the best of conditions too. A thought Steven still really struggles with and that our close family members share was that there was very real possibility that Steven would be leaving that hospital with no one that day.
I remember just after being told that Francesca had died I was taken to our own private delivery suite away within the labour ward to continue with the birth. We were both just heartbreakingly shattered and the look on Stevens face will never ever leave me. He had been so strong some how and had phoned our closest family to tell them the news and knowing how worried I was about my gran considering the shock of everything and taking her age into factor and the fact that she lives alone he even checked in to make sure someone was with her that day and night.
So last week we decided that we were both in a better frame of mind to go along to a garden centre and pick our flowers. Now we both know absolutely zilch about gardening to the extent we even have astro turf in our garden but by god my gran loves a good garden centre, so we found the biggest one we could and drove to it in a wee place in the middle of nowhere called Uplawmoor. This place was bloody massive, and my gran was on a mission. She had researched specific flowers that bloom for the majority of the year as she wanted us to get the most amount of time possible with Francesca’s flowers. She had also researched if there was tree that had a similar name to our baby’s and the closest she could find was a Fuschia tree and thought that would be perfect especially as the one she had her eye on bloomed bright pink. Perfect for our little baby girl princess.
(The “daisy chain” flowers)
It was a hard day as the sun was shining and that means that there will inevitably be babies everywhere. Babies in the car park, babies in the centre, babies being shown around the centre by their doting parents ..babies , babies , babies ……all the while I’m thinking my baby’s ashes are at home in her nursey and I’ll never get to do any of this with her. One of the hardest parts of grief is being locked in your own mind knowing you can’t keep thinking this way but being powerless to do anything about it. Forever torturing yourself with the harsh reality you’re stuck in. I also came across a big area full of flowers that looked identical to daisies. Now this hit a nerve smack bang in my heart. One of my first memories was sitting in my grans garden with my mum making daisy chains. I thought my mum was the coolest person ever as she was able to make a full necklace from the wee flowers In the ground ..and it hit….I would never get to do that with Francesca…just another thing to add to our list…and it hurt bad!
We ended up having a really nice day as my grans what you would say a bit of a character. She may be 4ft nothing with a big head of white hair and cute as a button but she’s funny as anything with the sharpest wit iv ever came across. She was also educating Steven on his teams latest managers signing, his statistics and connection to their rival teams manager. I didn’t have a clue she even liked football.. 33 years with someone …you would think you knew them !!
(Dakota pictured above guarding his wee sisters Fuschia tree)
We were so grateful at the thought my gran had put into everything that day and the time she spent with us that day checking in to see how we were doing and mentioning Francesca’s name constantly. Talking about how beautiful she was and who she looked like. I will be forever grateful that my gran was able to be one of the few who met Francesca in the ward. We were glad that as tough as it was, that we went along and now have a beautiful little reminder of our daughter in our garden. So thank you for creating memories for Francesca , gran. Each year when her tree and flowers bloom we will always look at them and think of our baby.
I think this has also gave Francesca’s other grandparents an idea and the thought that they too would like a tree in their garden to remember their gran daughter by. My mum now has a beautiful rose bush and Stevens dad has a cherry blossom tree in their gardens.
(The cherry Blossom Tree that Stevens dad now has)
As always, For Francesca Alexis Johnston, 8/2/18.
Forever loved and forever missed xxx