My August was spent slowly counting down to nursery starting. It was like a broken tap that has a slow drip. I was very aware that it was happening, but I could do nothing about it.
Nursery is a strange concept for me. In New Zealand, our children may go to kindergarten, but it is not standard, and there are definitely no uniforms.
And, they would not start until they are four. It does not matter when in the year they turn four, they would start on, or just after, their
fourth birthday. Our school year also runs February to December (after our summer holidays), so the idea of starting school in the middle of the year throws my whole seasonal pattern off.
With all this behind me, I found myself putting a uniform on my three-year-old in September and sending him to nursery. It was upsetting for me to leave him in the school and walk away. I cried. I am not the first mother to do so.
But, my tears stem from Patrick. It all goes back to him.
When you have to leave a hospital without your baby, it leaves a mark on your life. Leaving that school without Shay was that situation in a
different environment. And, I know that they are not the same, but leaving somewhere without my child, whether in hospital or at school, feels the same to my brain and heart.
I was proud of Shay though. My wee boy all grown up.
I cannot believe that he has started school. Where has the time gone? These are all things that you have heard before. But, for me, I said all these things while tryingnot to cry.
Shay has settled in well and I have asked for Patrick to be included in Shay’s schooling. If there is chat about family, I want Shay to be able to talk about Patrick. I want the teachers to put Patrick’s name on any family tree that may be made. I do not want Shay to ever think that Patrick is not part of the family, or that he cannot talk about his brother. Life is complicated.
In some ways I feel like Shay misses out.
Nothing is simple anymore.
This milestone is not the happy event that it should be. I have to think about things that I should not have to worry about. I am already conscious of the fact that I will do none of this next year - Patrick should be starting nursery next year. Like I have said before, everything is tainted with loss and sadness.
And, I am not alone. For some families in the area, and indeed further afield, there was no child to put a uniform on.
There was no schoolbag to buy or new shoes to purchase.
They had no child to stand in the doorway and have pose for that obligatory first day at school photo.
Their doorway was empty. The impact of losing a baby is huge; the effects are felt forever.
It is not just the death of the baby, it is the missing out on all their milestones also.
Any parent who has lost a baby, or child, is aware of when their child should have started school.
They know too well what other children in the area are starting school; what children could have been their child’s friend and playmate.
This time of year can be so unbelievably hard.
So, for all of you who sent children away to school at the start of the month, spare a thought for all of those who could not. 
And, if you know someone in this situation, why not ask how they are doing? Acknowledgement can go a long way.