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.