I remember - by Sam Peters (Eddie's uncle)
Seven years ago I awoke to an early morning phone call which changed my life forever.
“We lost Eddie this morning,” said my brother-in-law, Chris.
“What do you mean, lost?” I replied, knowing straight away what he meant.
“Edward died an hour ago,” Chris replied, barely able to speak.
The next few minutes were a blur.
I remember my wife Debs, who had handed me the phone, shaking uncontrollably as I relayed the news. I remember insisting on taking a shower before grabbing the car keys and driving too fast through the rush hour traffic from our flat in northwest London to the Royal Free Hospital near Hampstead Heath.
I remember parking askew and not paying for the space before running to the main entrance, descending in a lift to the Accident and Emergency ward and walking through seemingly endless corridors. I remember fearing the scene we’d find.
I remember the staff, at least two in tears themselves, waiting for us. I remember being ushered into a side room where Debs’ sister Jen - Eddie’s mummy - and Chris were sitting. I can’t remember anyone else in the room, but I remember the look on Jen’s face. I’ll always remember the look on Jen’s face. Her arced back against the white wall, crying a primeval cry.
The next few hours were a blur.
I remember my parents-in-law Valerie and Michael arriving. Valerie hysterical, Michael limp and bereft.
I remember going in with Chris to see Eddie, still on the hospital table in a room across the corridor. His perfect little face frozen forever in time. I remember holding his tiny little hand.
I remember ringing my brother – Chris’s university housemate, drinking buddy and best man the year before - to tell him what had happened. I remember struggling for air and a sense I was being strangled. I remember my legs giving way completely as I told Tom; “We’re at the hospital. Edward died this morning.”
I remember having coffee with Michael and Debs in the café across the way and the warm early spring sunshine as we left the hospital. I remember thinking “Eddie’s still in there” as we drove out of the car park. I remember seeing everyone else going about their lives as normal as our world collapsed around us.
I remember getting back to Chris and Jen’s house and upon their instruction carefully clearing Eddie’s perfect little room with my brother and Chris’s mum, Judith. I remember saying “this is the hardest thing we’ll ever do.”
The next few days were a blur.
I remember the well-wishers descending on Jen and Chris’s house and the sense our lives would never be the same. The endless crying and being there every single day.
I remember talking over dinner about much this would impact our friends and how Debs and I were the first ripple in the pond.
I remember buying sandwiches for everyone in the house from the Italian deli up the road and for the first time not being frustrated by pace of the service.
I remember driving with Chris to the morgue at the back of St Pancras Station to collect Eddie’s death certificate.
I remember the funeral. Oh my God I remember the funeral. I remember the strength Chris showed as he read those words. I remember Jen’s face as we lowered that tiny little coffin into the cold ground. I remember thinking “this is the hardest thing we’ll ever do.”
I remember Chris’s friends, big rugby players some, hollering like children. We all hollered like children.
I remember the shivah – a traditional Jewish ceremony at the family home – and being asked to read. I chose the lyrics from “He lives in you” from the Lion King. Eddie would have loved the Lion King, I’ve no doubt.
The next few weeks were a blur.
I remember the autopsy report stating “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” and Chris saying “we will never know why?”
I remember work saying “take as long as you want” before pushing me to return.
I remember the birds singing and working in the garden with friends. Most of all, the birds singing and time in the garden with friends. And the warm sunshine. And the birds singing.
I remember some friends “couldn’t go there”. But most of all I remember the friends who could.
“Time is a healer,” people would say. They were wrong. But thank you anyway for speaking.
The next few months were a blur.
I remember spending more time in the garden and the birds still singing. I remember seeing a rainbow one evening and wondering if it was Eddie.
I remember the simplicity of planting and feeling soil in my fingers. I remember spending hours watching the clouds form and gently roll across the sky. And the smell of fresh pine up in Groveley Wood.
I remember thinking work had to change. I couldn’t keep travelling. I needed to be home with my family. And I remember needing to be around nature. When I was away from it I felt my life was out of control. In Grovely Wood, I felt calm and almost at peace. I’ll always remember that.
I remember every time we’ve seen Jen and Chris since thinking their journeys will never end. The sadness of losing a child can never truly leave you. It mustn’t. You need to keep their memory alive.
The past few years have been tough, although not without laughter and joy. But time is not a healer. It just enables you to cope.
Words cannot describe what Jen and Chris have been through. They’ve had two more beautiful children, Ollie and Chloe, and have set up an amazing charity, Teddy’s Wish, funding research into the causes of baby loss while supporting bereaved families through the indescribable hell of losing a child.
In August we stayed at their house ahead of the wedding of one of those friends who was there after Eddie’s death, and we stayed up late one night and laughed almost how we used to. Almost.
Debs and I have also been blessed with our own little angel Ella while the solace we both found in nature after Eddie’s death inspired us to set up our own business, Planted.
Edward Louis Reid was three months old when he died. Lest we forget.
On 18th January, Sam will be running a mid-winter half marathon in Eddie's memory on what should be his 8th birthday. We would be so grateful if you would consider making a donation: