Do you know what I’ve realised in the two years since I last held you in my arms? Two years feels like yesterday. We don’t move on as grieving parents. We have to move forward as the world continues to turn – even if we are unsure of the direction – but we never move on.
There is a part of me that will forever feel guilty about your first birthday. I wanted with all of my heart to honour you in the way you very much deserved. But I couldn’t. Being only three weeks away from meeting your little sister filled me with an anxiety that rendered me useless. And even though I thought about you. Even though I cried for you and longed for you and missed you and needed you all at once, I never did your first birthday justice.
Please know that it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, my darling. Mummy was just struggling, that’s all. I wanted to give you my full attention, yet at the same time, I needed to make sure that your little sister was alright by attending hospital appointments and religiously counting her kicks (even if that meant not leaving the house on occasions and cancelling plans). Let’s face it, I think we can both agree that Mummy was a bit of a mess last year.
Maybe it’s the ‘mum guilt’. That guilt that comes with thinking that you’ve failed your child in some way. Maybe it’s the fact that I just love you so much. I have so much love for you but I can’t show it to you in the way that I would have wanted with a mummy cuddle and a kiss. Maybe it’s because your sister’s birthday also falls at the end of this month and life has both cruelly and lovingly made November a month where I have to celebrate you both in very different ways. There are so many emotions and feeling all jumbled together right now. . .
But this week, Evalyn, this week is your week. And you are very much getting the birthday you deserve.
Daddy went out yesterday to buy you a unicorn cake (requested by your brother). It turns out that buying a birthday cake for your baby in the sky comes with it’s own emotions that neither of us were prepared for. And as your birthday falls around Bonfire Night in the UK, we bought you some fireworks that we will light for you on your birthday night. Just know that as I watch them lighting up the sky, I will be thinking of you. I promise you that we will go walking in your special place on your birthday. We always feel closer to you when we’re there . . .
It’s our second year without you, but that doesn’t make it any easier. If anything, it makes me miss you more. . . .
This last year saw us welcoming your sister to the world. In a surreal way, her pregnancy for me, was just as hard as your loss. Every day I convinced myself that she would be meeting you before she would meet us.
I remember my consultant telling me over the blue curtain (Iola was a planned C-Section) not to panic if she didn’t cry when she was born. As it turned out, she came out screaming and I cried with both relief and sadness. Her cry was so beautiful, yet I will always wish I had heard your little voice too. The past year has very much been like that. I have watched her grow, I have praised her achievements. But the thought of you always quickly follows everything she does. When Iola was born, you could have been twins. She looked identical to you. I watch her now and see so much of yourself staring back at me. In the early months, it would sometimes hurt. Now I think that it is truly beautiful.
Your brother is growing up fast. He is becoming a proper boy, full of energy and independence. But he still constantly talks about you. The other month he even told me that you were his favourite sister because you didn’t try to eat his toy cars or throw his teddies around like Iola does. It made me smile to think that even in your abscence, your sibling relationship is still so strong. And as Iola grows up and understands more, she will learn more about you too and develop her own relationship with her big sister.
Mummy and Daddy are doing OK. Some days are great. Other days are hard. Sometimes you are there in the smallest of moments and that may make that day sadder than others. Daddy ran the Great South Run again this year for you. He did you so proud. I like to think that in your own little way, you were right there running alongside him.
You were even a bridesmaid this year. I remember when you were still growing in my tummy and your Auntie Carly was already planning how you and Ieuan would play your part in her big day. I’m so sorry that it wasn’t the way we’d always imagined. But you still played your part. You were there in the little ‘e’ charm in your Auntie’s bouquet that my friend had so lovingly made. You were there in your sister’s image; a little baby wearing a beautiful white dress. You were even there on our table at the reception sharing a place setting with Mummy – both our names together.
And that’s the thing, Evalyn. I know I say it all the time, but you are always here with us. Not a day goes by without you being a part of it. You will always be my little girl, my second child. And you will always make me so proud.
I love you so much, forever and always,