She’s been my baby for so long.
She’s been a closed book for so long.
She’s been chubby and silent and suddenly she is lithe, determined, quietly confident, elegant and clever and clearly, most remarkably, beautiful.
She captures another side of my family entirely; she alone looks almost exactly like my youngest girl cousin, from my aunts side. It’s strange seeing such a different element of the family making itself seen in my children.
I see all those things when I look at this photo. I see all the good things, all the remarkable and celebratory things.
But when I look at her, what I also see in her eyes is the girl who has already lived half her life with the most tremendous grief present. She had lost her brother by the time she was 5. She remembers him, remembers the grief, has lived it over and over as she has grown and changed in her understanding. All the life she remembers has had such sadness in it. So much else too, but so much grief.
It’s there in her eyes. I see it. How could it not be.
I spend my life making peace with knowing I put that there.
Last week I listened to Ben from Life as a Widower talking about making memories for their son about his mum. He spoke powerfully and well and with humour and I enjoyed listening to him. But I was left wondering if we did it right for our girls. There was so much pain compared to so little joy and memory. They didn’t want to remember, there is hardly anything of Freddie to hold on to. I never made catalogues or photo albums or handled grief and memory with determination. I can’t now. It’s all gone and so it is too late. I can’t remember.
I have some regrets now. But we are all different I think. I’m trying to make peace with not doing all the things that would have created memories for them. We followed their lead, with was a different thing to not talking about him. Freddie is a subject which is always open for them. But curiously we are an undemonstrative family and quiet remembrance seems to fit us best.
The us, of course, is them. Or what I think is them. Had I come home alone, with only my own needs to accommodate, the reality would be very different.
But it is all too late now. I can’t remember. There is just the look in their eyes.