It probably wouldn’t have been your first choice to spend your 17th birthday with your mum, your Grandma and your Auntie, it’s highly unlikely that flowers would have been top of your gift list, and you may well have preferred pizzas with your mates to a home cooked birthday meal with family. However, relations, blossoms and chicken cannelloni are how today panned out, and I am glad.
I’m glad we continue to come together, just as we did on the day you refused this world – to hold you, to hold each other, to remember, to grieve and to laugh. Yes, to laugh.
Because, you see, although there is dreadful sadness within the few memories we have of you, there is also much joy. Your tiny life was so pure, and bizarrely, so complete. From the moment we knew of you there was a change in all of us, and when you left, you brought us together in a way that had never been before. Of course we’re not glad or happy to take flowers to your grave, to wonder what might have been, but it would be dishonest and a disservice to your memory if we allowed the ending of your life to negate everything else.
It’s impossible to explain the depth of the changes you wrought – you were a catalyst for so many remarkable things, and for so many members of your family. What I can tell you is that I write this today as a far more complete, confident, secure and loving person than I would have been had you never existed.
I’ve always baulked when people talk about you with words like ‘tragedy’ – your existence was not a tragedy, it was a gift. I know that for some people (a lot of people) our ability to recall humorous incidents and moments from that time is incongruous with their own expectations of grief. C’mon though, it’s funny that your Auntie suddenly realised the item slapped into her hand by a nurse, and with which she had mopped my face throughout my labour with you, was in fact a wet sanitary towel. Needs must in an urgent situation I guess!
It’s not like we all fell about laughing there and then, but her recollection caused a twinkle of a smile in later days and was a welcome lightness in the dark. People find it odd that we can talk of you with joy and without crumbling, but there was a perfectness to you that would be diminished if we only dwelt upon the pain.