Today you should be two. We might have had a party, met up with your cousins and played chubby limbed boy games in the sun that shone. We might have driven trains on wooden track handed down from your sisters or bought you a new ride on car like the one Josie had for her second birthday. We might have gone to the beach or tumbled about on the grass of some stately home, or partied with friends gathered together to help you celebrate.
All those things would have been good.
There would have been cake. And candles. There will still be cake and candles.
There would have been toys, glorious, glorious parcels picked out by a family who couldn’t wait for a chance to spoil you again.
There would have been love. Just so much love. Love tumbling out from all of us for you.
Freddie, you have a brother, a little brother as fair as you were dark, as bright eyed and possessing as you were quiet and undemanding. And oh, the love we have for him and how we miss you even more, knowing the joy he has brought all of us. He’s made us jump through hoops to believe in him. He took us and shook us and grabbed us so that he could only be himself, not someone who came to take your place.
He’s clever already. If you had a hand in that, and in getting him here safely, thank you. I don’t know whether to believe in such things, but I do know that when the time came to get him out, I heard the message. I heard it because of you and nothing else mattered but getting your brother here safely.
Thank you for teaching me that.
You were so wanted and so adored and you made such a hole in us when you left. Ben can’t fill that hole. He hasn’t taken your love, I promise. There is a piece of all of us that is especially for you. Since Ben came, we speak of you more, your name is said even more often. We remember you in every bit of life that opens up in front of us with him. And Josie, oh Josie defends your place like the big sister she never got to be to you. Oh Freddie, she is your champion.
It’s different now Freddie and this year is for Ben a little more and you a little less. It would have been like that even if you were here too. You and Ben would have been just as close in age as your biggest sisters and oh, such mates. I hope you don’t mind that I’m enjoying him and just letting myself grieve a little less for you? Just for a while. Just to get him off to a good start. We’ve given him some of your things too, not because they aren’t yours any more, but just because that is what brothers do. I think you would approve. If you were here and shouting and wreaking havoc, you wouldn’t have got a choice of course. It seemed more right to do as we would have done and not make you, and everything about you, a stale and dreary memory box.
Don’t mistake any of that for not remembering you. It’s for keeping you present.
I hope you understand.
Today you will be remembered all around the world by people who will never forget your name. You made the loudest noise ever for a baby who never cried. You will not be forgotten.
Happy birthday Freddie.