Number Crunching…again

Col would have turned 43 today. He died at 38. Evie was 22 months old and Isla was nine weeks. I was 36. Colin and I met when he was 28 and I was 25 so we had just under 11 years together. I spent 10 birthdays with him. I bought him 10 presents and probably went for 10 birthday dinners. He has missed five birthdays. That’s five years that the girls have not been able to run in and jump on his sleepy bed head and shout happy birthday daddy on the 26th May. However you crunch those numbers he was too young to die. The girls were too little to lose their daddy. And I had too little time with one of life’s gems.
People probably think come on love…that’s nearly five years now. You’ll be getting over it. But you never get over it. I have learnt to live with our loss. I have learnt to ‘move on’ like so many bereaved people get told to do. Time has healed to some extent but the chasms of grief are too great to ever not feel the sadness waves when you see other children laughing with daddy, playing with daddy or simply just having a daddy. Nope that is not something you ever get over. If you are a dad or you’re married to a great one…just try and imagine for a few moments how deeply you and your children would feel your/his absence and you will see how col’s death at 38 and the fact he is not here to bemoan getting older (and maybe balder and fatter) at 43 just simply does not add up to something I will ever understand or get over.

Invisible but just there…

Last night’s bedtime, the penultimate before turning six, and Evie says this: “I am sad that daddy isn’t here to see me get bigger.”
I tell her a story about how it was the hours before she was born. I was in labour so daddy went to the upstairs room to get some sleep as there was no point, in his words, of us both being tired. When the pain got awful I crawled up the stairs about fiveish to say we should think about going to the hospital. He checked his NCT notes on timings and said we should wait a bit! We made it to the living room and he was in charge of packing the car. But before he left the house we both stood at our dining room table and he cried. He cried with fear and joy and he was never so raw to me. He told me he was so excited to meet our baby.
I told Evie this. And I told her that as soon as she was born in all her screaming he was overwhelmed by her being. He just kissed her and kissed her and kissed her.
She told me she wished he could kiss her now.
I said I know it’s hard but we know he is around us just by the fact that we are. We just are. And then she told me she knows he is invisible. But she thinks he is just there and she waved her hand above the bedcovers. She explained he’s there but we don’t know it and we can’t see but she knows he’s there. I hope so darling Evie. Happy 6th birthday. Love Mama

Forgetful but never forgetting

Today in 1968 my mum and dad got married in County Cavan, Ireland. A rakish Scottish boy who had pretensions to look like Buddy Holly and an Irish clergyman’s daughter tied the knot with many top notch churchman, including the bishop, involved in the nuptials. Dad had organised a ‘poor-oot’ which the local kids didn’t get in the least. Mum’s slightly crazy actress aunt took herself off during the reception to dress up as a tramp and came back in and bothered mainly the Scottish guests for money. The Grand National meant that under the table betting was high on the agenda.

Over the years, against the norm, mum was always the one to forget anniversaries. So when my sisters and I spoke on Sunday to wonder what to do about mum and dad’s first wedding anniversary without him here we thought the best thing would be to remind her she’d forgotten again and make her smile through the tears.
We sent flowers. We said in the card we didn’t want the day to pass without marking the occasion and that dad wouldn’t want the day to pass without us reminding her that once again she had forgotten. We wanted to make her laugh but also know that he was still here.
So here’s the thing. Mum never remembered anniversaries but she adored dad and adored everyday with him. She didn’t need to mark a day in the calendar to make that clear. None of us do. It’s nice to put a date in the calendar to remind us to be grateful for what we have. But truly we should probably try every day to say our thanks for the love we have in our lives. Our flowers and our card made mum sad but they also made her laugh at herself. She never remembered their anniversary but she will never forget how much their love meant to each other. Love was their everything. That’s something you don’t need to say only one day of the year. Happy anniversary mum and dad. Love you both.

Sent from my iPhone

It’s Been Four Years…Darling

Dear Darling Col,

It’s unbelievable to think it is four years today that I last looked at you and saw those twinkly eyes of yours. Four years since you raced out the door, with a quick and happy goodbye over your shoulder, to never come back. Never. I still find that so unreal. So full of life and so full of love. So much to live for. So completely unaware that your heart was a ticking time bomb. It’s just bloody unfair, on everyone.

Why do you not to have all the great times you should be having right now with our little girls? They are so funny and sharp and much fun to spend time with. I laugh out loud so often but every time I do I wish you were there right beside me so I could catch your eye Continue reading It’s Been Four Years…Darling

The Ghosts of Christmas

When you think about it you can measure your life in Christmases. I can and I am sure most of you can too. I can remember my first Christmas that I can physically remember in the toys that we all got. Sindy furniture for my sisters and a bright yellow Snoopy hat for me. Then there was the year of the rollerboots. There was the year of the salopettes that we all put on when the snow outside got deep enough to run out and play in them. I remember the Christmas I got a Commodore 64 with cassette games of Daley Thomson’s decathlon and Hunchback. There was the year I got a Yamaha keyboard, suggested by Dad and I taught myself to play Nick Berry’s Every Loser Wins by ear. I remember the last Christmas with both my paternal grandparents. I remember the first Christmas without my Bampi and how my Gran was without him there. I remember the endless games of Trivial Pursuit when it was the first year it came out. I remember a year of dumping the olds so we could watch Take That on MTV in a separate part of the house because our lives depended on seeing it.
Christmas is only one day of the year but it marks every one of our years because we lay such importance on it. It is also etched in our memories because we take such a lot of photos of everyone we are enjoying it with so as the years pass it can be a marker of what we have had and what we have lost. In childhood it was most definitely about the gifts received and what was under the tree. As the years have passed, for me, it has become about the people I spend it with and the people that are no longer here to spend it with. The gifts are background noise to the most important part of the season for me.
Isla was born exactly four Christmases ago, on Christmas Eve. It was the only Christmas I would spend with her and Col and Evie. My parents had come down for her arrival and so were there when Colin and I brought her home from hospital on Christmas Eve. It was a special Christmas anyway but now in retrospect it was so much more than special. It was unique and out of this world as within four years two of the special people I shared it with have gone. Isla and Evie are no longer the tiny beings they were and are walking and talking mini people and mum and I are widows. How odd.
There was that first Christmas without Col my family rallied and we got through. A case of shingles and two cases of chicken pox were an added bonus to an already difficult time but we got through.
Since then I have measured Christmas by the strength of my parents to ride me through it and the amazing addition of Cameron and his boys to our whole brood.
This year is another shaky one. Dad has gone and mum is surviving. We are all holding on as we make it through the endless cheer. My heart has broken numerous times for my girls, and for me, as they appear as Angels or Mary at Nativity plays and I wish Colin back if only for those moments.
My photos this year will lack two of the most important men in my life but I have to see the postives and be glad that have three new men in the form of the wonderful Barrie boys.
I wish love for all those spending their first Christmas without an important person in their life. Tick this one-off and you’ll find the next one – not easier just different. Christmas is forever changed but it is what it is. A day. Enjoy it if you can and if you can’t – well just count the hours and minutes and get on through. I had several duvet moments on my rookie year. I am not ashamed. I am human and those ghosts of Christmas past sometimes do get a little much. Even this fourth year down the line I still feel a bit knocked for six by it. Good luck my bereaved followers. Good luck.

Here’s a link for some that might need it…

 

https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/cruse/cruseatchristmas

Catching Wishes

These last few weeks of summer the girls have been catching wishes. You know those floaty, spindly spheres that dance away from you as soon as you reach out to grab one. Yes, those. If my five and three-year-old can’t catch them I run, jump and grab upwards or stamp down upon them like a slightly geriatric child just so my girls can have those eyes-tight-shut-with-hopeful-whisperings kind of moments that I remember doing too. Where I wished for hair as long as Claire Jenkins, my girls wishes are much more poignant but are just as likely to not happen.

*****

Evie: “Mummy, if we wish really, really hard can we get daddy to come back.”

Me: “No, darling. A wish can’t ever bring daddy back. Remember I told you his body was broken and we said goodbye to it and daddy’s energy and spirit is all around us…”

Evie: “Yes I know but can Santa not even fix it so daddy can come back.”

Me: “I am so sorry honey. He can’t come back.”

Evie: “Well then can I wish for a new daddy.”

Me: “Well yes but you know Cameron is here not to be your daddy but he can be a bit like a daddy.”

Evie: “Yes that’s OK but can Isla and I have a daddy that doesn’t have any other children. A daddy just for us.”

*****

Isla: “I miss daddy. I want him back.”

Me: “I know honey. I wish you could have him back but I’m here.”

Isla: “But I want his cuddles.”

Me: “I know me too. But you’re lucky. You’re daddy is special because other daddies only get to see their little girls after school or nursery or after work. Your daddy watches over you all the time. And while he was here your daddy gave me so many cuddles that I can pass some of them to you.”

Isla: “And his kisses?”

Me: “Yes darling. Kisses too.”

Our sweet girls, Col. If only those spindly floaty wish things could make wishes come true…I wish that these were not the types of conversations I shared with my little girls at bedtime and that you could kiss and cuddle them in the flesh. I just wish.