7 years ago you died precious darling Bella

Oh baby girl – today 7 years ago you died…how the hell is that possible? On so many levels – how is it possible that you died at all, how is it possible that it was 7 years ago? In some ways a life time ago, in other ways, like it was just yesterday. Oh how cruel it’s seems, every single part of it.

That day I remember like it was yesterday…every single part of it. What I wore that morning, the meeting I went to and the presentation I gave, where I was standing at work when the phone call came through, not knowing what was going on, the route I drive home, the roadworks I encountered. Where I had to park my car to get to you because of Wetpups traffic, the people that were there trying to help, seeing you dead for the first time. The phone call I made to your dad, to Dr Paul and to PopPops. The 3 hours that unfolded after that, holding you in my arms, the questions we had to answer, the people we had to talk to, having to hand you over to be taken away from us. Having to walk back into our home, bathing Murray and putting him to bed. The people that came that night. I look back now and still have no idea how we got through that day.

I don’t remember much of the days after that…but I do then remember very clearly the day of your funeral….every minute of that too. And then the next 2 years are a blur really…I think my brain has blocked out so much of it as it was just so so damn hard. But I do remember how much we were carried by our community, by our family and friends, and how grateful I remain to each person in our lives.

As I write this I am sitting with you and your brother Thomas at your bench. It’s a beautiful Spring day, the sun is shining, the water in the river is flowing, the flowers are lovely, blooming all around us, the tortoises harassing each other, the squirrels chasing each other in the trees.

Today is the first anniversary in 7 years that I haven’t felt completely broken. And that is complicated in itself. Because I feel deeply, deeply guilty that I don’t feel completely undone. That perhaps in some way I have moved forward. And while I know I need to do this, and our family needs to do this, and it’s part of grieving and putting our lives back together again – moving from surviving to thriving – it’s fraught with so much deep complication. So much survivors guilt. How do I piece my heart back together again, heal it a bit without feeling like I am pulling away from you? I don’t know the answer except to say that it doesn’t mean I love you any less, that I think of you any less, that the loss of you is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Oh how deeply I wish life has been different, that you were still with us. But I also can’t live in that past, wishing for life to be different, because then there is no way I would be able to do life now justice…and I know that I also need to do that…if only to honour you in how I live life. It is my duty to make sure that we as a family live life fully, that we give Murray all of ourselves. Does that make any sense my darling Belsie?

Murray doesn’t know what today is. I don’t think there is any reason for him to know. Your birthday we always celebrate, but I don’t think he needs to know our deep sadness today. He already struggles with a lot of it so much, carries so much of it in conscious and sub-conscious ways and I don’t think that today we need to burden him further. And yet somehow today he gave me just what I needed this morning, wrapping his arms around me and telling me how much he loves me…a more and more rare occurrence these days as he grows up.

Bels, I have been asked to be the key note speaker at my old school in a few weeks, to give a message to all the girls leaving school given the lessons I have learnt. Wow, I am not going to lie it’s not an easy task! How do I wrap all of my life experiences up into a bite size chunk that will be able to inspire some incredible 18 year old girls as they leave school and embark on their adult lives. So I am thinking, writing, deleting, trying again. But one of the things I am using for inspiration is part of my eulogy for you at your funeral. The lessons I said I wish I would have still been able to teach you –

1.) Value and love yourself. There are so many pressures out there. Be steadfast in your values and be confident and true to who you are. What you are inside is so much more important than what you look like outside
2.) Always be kind and patient. You never know what people are going through. Treasure and love them and leave an indelible mark on their lives just by being you
3.) Hard work, determination and a bit of well timed good luck will get you almost everywhere
4.) Family above all else. They are the only people in the whole world who will support and love you no matter what
5.) Always go for intelligence and decency over good looks. It may be the jocks that you are attracted to at school, but they aren’t the ones you want to marry
6.) Don’t fall for the first guy that comes along, experiment. Find out who you really are and what you really need and want. Live life on your own and be happy. Then you will find your true prince. When you do, remember that men are different. Don’t try to understand everything or mould him, just embrace him
7.) Always have financial independence – and make sure the house is in your name
8.) Let your dad teach you some practical DIY skills. How to change a light bulb, use a drill, change a car tyre. There is a reason Carol and I were called “Carl and Simon”

9.) And most importantly, mom, dad and Murray will always be here for you, without question

Baby girl, I miss you every day, I love you more than I will ever be able to tell you. Thank you for choosing me as your mom. You are forever my daughter and I am always with you.

Your mom xx

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