We took our grief to Audley End, a place I carried Freddie secretly one hot late summer day 2 1/2 years ago. Walked the same grass, trod the same paths.
We are not the same 6 as then. We are not even 6. We are a family who count ourselves in measured phrases and appropriate responses. We are the 6 who began and the 7 who were and the 7 who are and the 8 who will always be.
This is not the picture I expected to take on my next return to that place. It is close, oh so close, but not the one I imagined.
No one who walked past us would have known they walked past a family living an alternate reality.
In another world, those girls would not have worked together to spell a name in daisies by a lake.
They would not, of their own accord, cast petals on a lake in honour of a brother.
They would not hold this new brother quite so close, or know so deeply what a gift he is. They would learn that, at best, only at the birth of their own children – and maybe not till even later than that.
However fractured and fragmented it is, that is what you have to find the beauty in. Death and Life. Light and Dark. Endings and Beginning. Pain and Gentleness. Sun and Wind.
It was a good day. A gentle day.
It would have been better with 8.