birthday gifts

Dear Sienna,

If things had gone as planned – as promised in the ideal world I used to live in – you would be turning four today. Anzac Day wouldn’t be just Anzac Day; it would be your birthday. And I would probably be wondering if the shops were open because I forgot to buy sprinkles to make the fairy bread for your party.

Things would be different.

But it isn’t your birthday today. Today there is no four-year-old girl at our house. Your big brother is still the baby of the family – though at eight he really isn’t a baby any more. When I see him with our puppy – the way he cuddles and calls him ‘Bubba’ – I know he would have been a great big brother. He’s not supposed to be the youngest.

And Indy? Well I know she wishes she could say the words: ‘My little sister’ without watching them fall to the ground – all meaning lost because you’re not here.

Today – on your would-be birthday – I wonder what you would look like. I remember ‘four’ with the other two. Such a gorgeous age. Would you be blonde like them? When you were born you had your brother’s legs and chin. Your eyes were the same beautiful shape as your sister’s. As tiny as you were there was no doubt you were so much like both of them. I wonder: what funny things would you say if you were four? Who would your little friends be? What would you like to eat? Would you have a favourite toy? TV show? Bedtime story?

But all of this wondering comes to nothing. Because you are not here.

Things are different.

In the void after I lost you I returned to writing. I wrote about you. That was the beginning. A collusion of inexplicable good fortune saw me land a most amazing job. Through it all I fell headlong back into a long lost love affair with the world of words. I became more *me* than I’d ever been. Because of you. The gift of you.

But you know I’d give it all back in a heartbeat if I could have you. Never gonna happen. Because everything is different now.

I don’t believe in heaven any more. Not because of you. Just because. Words like ‘god’ and ‘soul’ and ‘angel’ don’t sing to me. But there’s still one thing that does.

When I planned your funeral I struggled to find a song to play. The funeral people had some suggestions – and yeah Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven breaks everyone’s heart but wasn’t right for you. But, the day before you were to be born I got in my car and there, on the radio, was the song.

I knew immediately. Ok, it turns out this is one of the most requested funeral songs ever, so I am rather predictable after all. Nevermind. It still works for me. And this is why. As always, it’s about the words.

When I’m feeling weak/And my pain walks down a one way street

Yep. Not only do I love me a metaphor, but I’ve been down that one way street.

There’s also this:

Down the waterfall/Wherever it may take me/I know that life won’t break me

Yep again. When you’ve been through the worst you kind of adopt a bit of a ‘bring it’ attitude. It’s a strength that you have given me. Another gift.

And here’s the thing – the reason good ol’ Robbie Williams reached me in this way is because I *should* be loving a four-year-old little girl, but turns out I’m not. Call you an angel, call you whatever – but things are different and loving you as a memory, well, that’s what I’m doing instead.

So today,  this life of infinitesimal wonder, confusing and conflicted awe, marrow-sucking, torturous, life-affirming, mind-blowing, O Captain! My captain! Carpe diem–ness – today it sucks in the most exquisitely bittersweet way.

But, at the bottom of it all… I miss you.

Happy birthday.




Filed under loss, parenting, writing

28 responses to “birthday gifts

  1. Dearest, sweet friend. Your beautiful girl is not here with us. In our world she does not get to have a birthday or have those who love her shower her with gifts and kisses. But please know this. Even though she is a memory now, your memory, your little girl is loved. And I honour her memory with you today. xoxo

  2. Lisa

    To the little girl I feel like I know but sadly never will, happy birthday Sienna x

  3. That is such a beautiful post. I’m very sorry for your loss. Hope you are surrounded by lots of love.

  4. *hugs*

    Happy birthday to Sienna 🙂

  5. Beautiful post. Thinking of you xx

  6. Sarah (Maya_Abeille)

    Sending you lots of love Jayne. You are brave to feel this pain out loud. Beautiful post. x

  7. An Idle Dad

    I know too.

    You rock.

    Happy birthday Sienna.

  8. I can’t tell you how moved I was by your post. Your beautiful writing has described the unimaginable for every parent, and my heart is numb as I sit here. Hopefully, the people you reach through this post will return a little love and strength to you as you travel through this very difficult day. –Cheri

  9. I can’t say better than the others.
    Beautifully written, thank you.
    Happy Birthday Sienna

  10. nicky (nonoodle)

    all my love xoxo

  11. k.c

    My best friend had two baby boys one year ago today on Anzac day. One died. One survived. Life is a strange, strange thing. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Happy happy birthday to your dear Sienna!

  13. Sweet sweet words, happy birthday sienna… Your mummy is such a wonderful writer

  14. Lee

    Happy Birthday to Sienna, and to Taylor and James as well…a difficult time of year for us all.

    Thinking of you Jayne 🙂

  15. Am only just seeing this late Monday night, as we’ve been away for the long weekend- but a beautiful post. Happy birthday Sienna. Look after your mother. xxx

  16. Oh Jayne. Your writing is so beautiful.
    I miss little Sienna with you. I don’t believe in Heaven either, but I do hope she is playing somewhere beautiful with my Hope.

  17. Happy Birthday Sienna.


  18. Sienna will always be loved and remembered, thanks to such wonderful parents.

    Happy Birthday, Sienna. xxx

  19. Dear Sienna,

    If you ask anyone of us what we hope to achieve in life, the answer will be to make an impact. To be remembered. To have mattered.

    You have all of this in spades.

    Happy Birthday to you Sienna and much love to your family.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  20. Pingback: something’s gotta give « the best of all possible worlds

  21. I don’t know what to say Jane. I didn’t know, and now I sit hear with tears rolling down my face. Thank you for Sienna’s story. Thank you for writing so beautifully.

    Sending you love today. I can’t even imagine the aching. xx

  22. So beautifully written. I am so sorry for what is an unimaginable loss and feel so privileged that you have shared your story and a part of your daughter with us.
    Michelle xx

  23. What a beautiful, sweet birthday post. Your darling Sienna is lucky to have you as her Mama.

  24. Suz

    I’m sorry Sienna is not with you Jayne. Thinking of you xx

  25. Dianne


  26. ROB

    Reblogged this on robs thoughts and sports and commented:
    This post by Jayne has inspired me to write a blog post about my daughter Zoё; our Zoёgirl. She would be three years old today.

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