It’s your birthday today, and the first time I won’t be able to sing Happy Birthday down the phone to you.
I miss writing to you, miss knowing you’re there, miss you, period.
Today you are 96, but will always remain 95 when time as we know it stopped for you. In my dreams the years have fallen away and you are 53 as you were in your Silver Wedding anniversary photo, Dad by your side.
There are little smudges from the kisses I’ve pressed from my lips to my fingertips to the glass for you both, and I know there is another photograph just like this one on the other side of the world which is acknowledged every day with love and warmth.
I hope you see the candles we light for you, and you’re not too confused by their varying location! These days we light three if we’re in church, one for you, one for Dad and one for FIL, but here at home we have a tea light holder surrounded by hearts and it sits on the table with photos of you all as we send our love and thoughts of you skywards. The hearts on the carousel spin on the top and we imagine you all engaged in conversation, or possibly laughing at our antics. Our methods were perhaps a little odd, but in most cases the end result was OK.
Thanks to you Mum, we’ve been able to replace the cooker here and do a couple of other things temporarily put on hold. I baked a sponge cake and remember the first one I did at school which was such a disaster. Then I made one for you at home, using best butter and carefully measuring the ingredients. I beat the eggs to within an inch of their lives, sifted the flour and sugar, and it rose beautifully. Even taking it out of the oven it didn’t flatten, and was probably the best I ever made. Because I made it for you, and put all my love into doing it. I made you a birthday cake in the cottage too. It wasn’t nearly as light, but you were so pleased with it, and blew out the candles just as I did as a child.
We lit a candle in The Stump for you last Friday as it’s four months ago since we lost you. Today we will light another candle for your birthday.
We have also done some work outside in the garden and are hoping our veg plots are successful. It’s been a bit touch and go, so this year is a learning curve. We’re getting very good at those!
We have three rose bushes too, one pink Ancient Mariner, a red In Loving Memory (both of which were house-warming gifts) and we purchased a yellow rose called Peace. I wish you could be here to see them bloom.
I heard the original Unchained Melody the other day and immediately thought of you.
It’s another of your favourites I used to play, though for me your song will always be Wind Beneath My Wings. I play it a lot and each time the tears come, bringing release through sorrow. I feel you close, almost to the extent of standing by my side, your breath against my cheek.
I am so glad you wanted to go out for ice cream in September.
I played for you that day too as you drank your tea, then we collected the right shoes and off we went. Such a simple pleasure and treat for you, unbeknown to us that it would be the last outing we shared.
We spoke several times on the phone after that, and of course I wrote to you at least once a week. You weren’t well when we visited in December, though I hope you knew I was there at your bedside holding your hand and that you weren’t dreaming when your eyes sparkled for that fraction of a second before you went back to sleep. I talked to you about the new house as you slept, and you would love the park here just now with its ducklings and goslings. If you were visiting, there are plenty of benches for you to sit and rest while you watch them. I remember taking you to the river on one of your holidays with us to see the ducklings. You were enchanted by them all as we walked along the river bank. We had coffee and cake in the windmill cafe in the centre of the town, your face rosy and happy from seeing them. Another simple pleasure, you were always so easy to please.
I am sure both you and Dad are watching over us all and hope I am not a disappointment to either of you. I wish I could tell you that in person, pour out the love I have for you, hold you both close, and share those lost precious moments stolen through circumstance rather than choice.
You and I were with Dad when he left us, but I was 300 miles away when your time came to join him, but you were not alone, for which I am grateful.
When your ashes were scattered, we could not be there, but I played your song for you, cried for you, missed you even more on that day, all the while a special candle burned brightly in front of your photograph, reflecting its flame on your face in the glass.
Come your wedding anniversary, the Book of Remembrance will be open at that page 300 miles away. You and Dad are together in print, reunited as you are in God’s Garden, together forever as you are in my heart. I love and miss you both so very much.
Happy Birthday Mum. Give Dad a big hug and kiss from me.