Six months ago, this Sunday began in a normal way, though you are usually here on a Sunday but you had a friends birthday sleep over the night before. One that should have happened some weeks previously but it had been delayed due to the snow.
I drove to pick you up, everything quite normal. When you didn’t appear after my first hooting of my car, I wasn’t worried. More annoyed that I’d then have to park up!! When I knocked on your dad’s wooden front door and you didn’t open it, I wasn’t worried. I thought, she’s on the top floor, she’ll be down in a minute. When I peeped through the metal letterbox and saw your red striped overnight bag and muddy shoes, sitting in silence, I still wasn’t worried.
When I rang your mobile and it went straight to voice mail, I wasn’t worried. When I text you saying ‘where are you????xxxx’, I wasn’t worried.
When, after ten minutes or so, I still couldn’t get hold of you, the beginnings of a sick nagging worry started growing within my stomach.
After ringing your phone over twenty times and ringing your dad who was on his way home, after speaking to Nain and my mum, who both weakly reassured me that you’d probably gone to the shop or to friends (they both knew that was most unlike you), I was really worried. My mind whirred, I thought someone had done something or you’d fallen, I questioned small children outside had they seen you, I searched through windows, looking at ways to get in, I contemplated breaking in but I knew your dad would be here soon. The wait seemed days long, not minutes.
I never once imagined as I waited outside the horror that would greet us that day. We know now you had been dropped off giggling ten minutes earlier, you had used your phone around the time I arrived, in a second you were quietly taken away from us, while i waited for you outside.
When dad got there, we found you, that moment in time which can never ever leave us. I’ve said often I knew you had died, straight away when I set eyes on you, there was no coming back. I saw the hope in your dad’s eyes, I even gave some hope when I had to ring your Nain and my mum because I couldn’t be so cruel as to give no hope when I was being told by those trying to save you, ‘we’re doing everything we can’. But I knew.
Now. Six months on Tes, from 21st April, it’s six months ago since life changed unimaginably. I used to count the days since I saw you, then the weeks, now it’s months. Months since seeing and touching you, my beautiful baby girl. Months since we danced in the kitchen or played Cluedo and cards. Months since I lay on your bed watching Friends with you. Months since I brought you breakfast in bed or made you Macaroni Cheese. Months since we ate pizza on a Saturday night and months since I was picking out what to get you for your impending 15th birthday.
I fear the anniversary dates we make up in our head, the ‘dreaded’ days where I guess I worry it’ll become even worse than it feels now. Six months feels like a strange ‘anniversary’. Not in the way you may think. I was talking to you yesterday and telling you how much I love you and how much I think about you and miss you, always. Always. I get scared that you don’t know how much. Scared because I feel guilty for coping and you might think how could I cope, when you’re not here.
When you died and in the weeks after and early months I was often told that I was still in shock and that it would hit me at some point, I heard stories of people being ok but months later falling apart, it has terrified me. It still does. The thought that at some point this is going to get even worse. That is beyond frightening. So in a way, I was thinking yesterday about it being six months and had this very odd ‘I’ve made it’ feeling. What I’m trying to say and which may be quite shocking is that it’s almost a relief to get to this stage and be still here. Still here. Living, breathing, crying and sometimes more surprising, even laughing at times.
I almost feel proud that we are coping and have coped and have forged a new road in our life. The road before was long and straight ahead, knowing. Now it’s taken a sharp left turn, gone are those days and times and milestones previously taken for granted. The road has been heavy, painful, stressful but mostly so very very sad. But …the road also has hope, strength and love which makes a life for your brothers, a life for your friends, a life for family, a life for me.
The guilt that comes with saying it is huge, but I said from the beginning when people asked how I cope, there are only two choices when something of this enormity happens. You get up, or you don’t.
I hope you’d be proud Tes of the courage and the immense effort we’ve all made, that we do make, of first just getting up each day and from that second on trying to also live. Without you.
One day at a time Tes, one day.
Forever in my heart.