Once Upon A While Ago – Revisited

This time of year is always so rubbish in terms of trying not to feel the countdown between the day Isla was born (Christmas Eve 2011) and the day Col died (25th February 2012).  Just nine short weeks and every year I feel them ticking. So this year I am sorting so many positive and proactive things to try to avoid the spiral. First up, Evie’s grand plan for walking up Daddy’s hill to raise money for a bench in Edinburgh. And we are nearly done! The girls are ecstatic and so chuffed that so many of the friends and family are helping them get there with the fundraising. Thank you everyone. Just less than £200 to go so any last donations are welcome – we are already thinking how we will word our plaque to thank you all.

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Parenthood, Reimagined

I remember a week or so before Evie was born, standing in the empty but newly decorated nursery looking at the softly washed baby clothes and imagining what parenthood would be like. How would we do it? I imagined the wee thing that would come home from hospital and fill those clothes, sleep in the empty cot and be clipped into that carefully selected carseat. How would we cope?
How could I imagine that five years down the line I would be in the car, about 400 miles from the home I was nesting in, discussing with that wee thing, the one that came home and became the thing that wore those clothes, took hours to settle in that cot and who only seemed sleep soundly in that carseat, and her little sister Isla what it would be like if daddy weren’t dead.

Isla: “Why is daddy in the sky?”

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High Five Daddy

Darling Col,

Evie turns five tomorrow. Can you believe it? As she went to bed tonight she whispered to you to say: “Daddy, I’m five tomorrow. Send me a kiss from heaven.” I hope you manage some way to do so. I simply can’t believe we’ve managed four of our first baby’s birthdays without you. She’s grown so much. She looks so like you and after several years of worrying that your loss was creating a sad little girl she has changed so much recently. She still carries a sadness but she is so caring and has such lovely friends and happy times. She has her moments, of course, but she is becoming very much a little person you would be proud of. Clever, thoughtful and a little bit feisty. You only ever spent the big One birthday with her. I simply can’t get over that fact. But at least we had that. We all miss you at these times but I hope that we can feel your love tomorrow. I had a discussion with the girls as I was rushing them to nursery the other morning. As I was going half crazy about footwear or lack of I can’t remember how it started but Isla said something about where is daddy or why is daddy not here. I told them both that you surrounded them with your love everyday it is just sometimes we can’t see it. That’s how I understand it. Simple. You can’t give us the hugs and kisses we would love to have but you caress us with your love everyday we just simply know it but can’t physically feel it. Love you always darling. Lamb-a x

PS I found this pic tonight when looking for another one…I love this more. Evie looks more like you than ever now. Mini me or what

Where exactly is Daddy?

Poor Daddy. In Evie's pic he's a wispy Casper the Ghost
Poor Daddy. In Evie’s pic he’s a wispy Casper the Ghost

Evie’s having a tough time right now. Night terrors and lots of questions about where exactly is daddy. It started a few weeks ago when I told her I was going away for a few days for a wee holiday and she would be staying with her Grandma Pat. Her immediate reaction was to cry and tell me that she didn’t want me to go because I might not come back. When you hear things like that your heart breaks into a million tiny pieces all over again. In her experience of the world people that you love, and  love with all your heart because they are your whole actual world, can simply vanish in the blink of an eye, or indeed an afternoon snooze. So of course she doesn’t want mummy to go away for a few days because she might not come back, that happens.
While I was away she had some night terrors and my sister and my mum had to cope with it as Evie screamed and then just sat not awake and not asleep in the corner of the room, staring. Now since my return she’s been having more nightmares and she’s been calling out for daddy in these dreams. Aside from a finger trapping accident in the back of the car a couple of months ago, Evie has not called out for her daddy since the day he died. And that’s the case despite the fact that up until that D day he was her number one go to in the night due to an arrangement between me and Col while I was in late pregnancy and subsequently had Isla Baby. I’d happily been substituted for Col as her favourite person to see through the bars of her cot.
I wonder what she dreams of that leads her to shout out for her him in such fear. Is she losing him all over again in her unconscious imagination? Is she scared of him if or when he visits her in her sleep? Does he appear to her as he is in the photos I show her? Or does she have real memories that recurr? I dont know any of these answers and the tears are bouncing off my keyboard here. Arghhh. Just when you think life is back on a copeable, even keel, and perhaps even showing promise at being good again…well, things like this knock you for six because you realise this is a life sentence. My girls, and so many others like them, will always be going through a stage in their grief. Currently for Evie it’s working out what death means (and thank you Winston’s Wish for the kind woman who reassured me that I am saying and doing the right things in my hour-long phone ramble last week). Isla, well at nine weeks she didn’t really notice Col’s disappearance because her nappies still got changed, she got her milk every few hours and she got looked after with love, I think, but soon  she’ll be faced with the realisation that her wonderful little status quo is not quite the norm and will start her wee journey of grief that may or may not take a different path to the one that her big sister is now on. And it’s hard for me because I like to fix and move on but in this situation you simply can’t. I can’t sweep their grief or mine under the carpet and start again. That would mean forgetting what we’ve lost and it’s my mission in life that none of us ever forget Colin. But we do jog along into our future without him and that future holds so many significant dates that he won’t see. This week all the Facebook pics proud daddies took of kids going to school…well my stomach lurches knowing Evie and Isla will have a different kind of experience of that moment and there will be one huge big hole in that morning. That’s just the start of it. Graduations and weddings, 18ths and 21sts…the list is endless. But actually I know it’s the normal days, it’s the growing up around what’s supposedly normal and seeing difference, that will have Evie, and Isla too down the line no doubt, asking the big ‘death’ questions and screaming out for daddy in the dark of night.
Yesterday at nursery pick up Evie was anxious to find a picture she had done because she wanted to take it home for me, not put it in her nursery work folder. It is the one attached to this post. It’s her version of a normal family portrait and it had me weeping in the car home. Evie, Isla and I take defined forms while daddy seems to be floating off with his scribbly no face body heading skyward. She talked me through the picture in the classroom and when I smiled and said, ‘Is that daddy in the sky?’, she was quite adament. ‘ no. That’s him here with us.’ What do you say to that?