Monday, 31 December 2012


Another year passes.

Passes my daughter by.

Twelve turns to thirteen.
Fourth turns to fifth.

I go to the supermarket. On my own. A strange and momentous occasion. I feel light headed, half drunk already in a prefiguring of champagne.

And my eyes fall on the girls, always the girls.

The girls that my daughter will never be. Here five, here nine, here thirteen. Maybe. I've never been good at discerning ages. So much variation. But not here.

Her particular brand of dissimilarity is extinct.

The years accumulate on my skin. A patina. Layer upon layer of experiences. Good and bad. Mottle my skin as surely as the age spots and wrinkles. I thicken. Accumulate. Greedily. Helplessly. Hoarding days and months and years. Unwillingly.

That which I would have given away. Given half a chance.

Another year. Another layer.

How I wish I could grant it to my daughter.

But she slipped free. No layers. No experiences. No burnishing required.


It may pass her by.

But, somehow, I doubt that she cares. Or even notices.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas wishes

Our fifth without you, my sweetheart.

That first Christmas I thought your sister might come home to us. There was a flurry of paperwork and phone calls on Christmas Eve.

A stupid, slow part of me thought that, once she came home, you would too.
That it was all a test.
Or a dream.

But it wasn't.

She spent her first Christmas in hospital. The phone calls and paperwork didn't go through quickly enough. That anticipation had to be swallowed down as it had so many times before. It didn't stick in my throat so much. I was used to it by then and told myself that Christmas was just another day.

Your Dad and I carried her presents up to the hospital. Nearly filling up the narrow room. Swamping the plastic hospital chairs. The nurses laughed at us. The Christmas tree twinkled. A thin veneer of cheer stretched over the hospital. Just enough for a day. And, even then, not in every room. Cheer is too easily punctured by illness and death and pain.

The nurse looking after Jessica that day was young, barely twenty. I told her that I was sorry that she had to work on Christmas Day. She told me that she didn't mind, she didn't like Christmas since her brother died.

I didn't realise then, that first year, that I also wouldn't like Christmas as much as I once did.
That it would lose its charm and seem tawdry.

Because you didn't come back home. Not that Christmas Eve. Not even when your sister did.
I was so hopeful.
But as every fairy tale tells you, even if you are granted three wishes or powers untold, there are generally some limitations.
You can't bring back the dead.

Our hands reach and stretch.

We long. Burn. Ache. Yearn. Despair. Pretend indifference in the hope that death will fall for reverse psychology. Forget. Remember. Hurt. Exult. Love. Hope in vain. Hope.

We wish.

And wish.

And wish.

And are refused.


This is Christmas number five. I've wrapped presents, I've sung carols, I've set out a Christmas plate for Santa and Rudolph, I've held my living children tight, tight, tight in my arms. I've told them how I love the very bones of them. Just as my father in law taught me to. I've made hot chocolate. I've watched Christmas Eve specials. And it all feels exactly how I hoped it might, how I wanted it too. When I dreamed of a child in March 2008.

And I'm so happy but it bubbles up into my brain until I feel . . . . . too much. Because I feel so lucky and excited. And so terribly unlucky and sad. I have to run upstair and cry. On my own. Because nobody else can see this. Not my children. Not my husband.

Now I dream in twos. I have one arm around your sister and my hand in your Daddy's but my other arm aches and longs and wishes. Twitches. Hopelessly, exhausted, yearning, stretching, reaching, wishing. For you. Always for you.

The same arm that once held you. It remembers.


I thought about buying you a Christmas card. I saw a card in the supermarket opposite work. For a dear daughter. And I thought of you.

But then I thought of your box. Your box in the wardrobe. Your ashes. Your clothes. The hat that you wore. The sats probe that went around your foot. Christmas cards. Birthday cards. Toys.

The physical manifestations of my wishes. And that box is overflowing now. A stock take of my wishing for your flesh, your lungs, your bones, your brains, your nerves.

I didn't buy the card.


I find a poem. Elsewhere.

In other languages,
you are beautiful—mort, muerto—I wish
I spoke moon, I wish the bottom of the ocean
were sitting in that chair playing cards
and noticing how famous you are
on my cell phone—picture of your eyes
guarding your nose and the fire
you set by walking, picture of dawn
getting up early to enthrall your skin—what I hate
about stars is they’re not those candles
that make a joke of cake, that you blow on
and they die and come back, and you
you’re not those candles either, how often I realize
I’m not breathing, to be like you
or just afraid to move at all, a lung
or finger, is it time already
for inventory, a mountain, I have three
of those, a bag of hair, box of ashes, if you
were a cigarette I’d be cancer, if you
were a leaf, you were a leaf, every leaf, as far
as this tree can say.

—Bob Hicok

Every leaf, my darling dear. Every leaf.  As far as your mother can say.

I wish you were here. 

I can't help myself.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


I'm a little lost.

Instead of blogging  . . . 

I sit in my car.
In a traffic jam.
Bon Jovi plays.

The song?

Now I can't sing a love song 
Like the way it's meant to be 
Well, I guess I'm not that good anymore 
But baby, that's just me 

And I will love you, baby - Always 
And I'll be there forever and a day - Always 
I'll be there till the stars don't shine 
Till the heavens burst and 
The words don't rhyme 
And I know when I die, you'll be on my mind 
And I'll love you - Always 

A song that I've always kinda despised.

Until now.

Now I howl along to it.
Out of tune and hoarse.

Sometimes there is nothing magical.
Or kindly.

Nothing consoling.
Nothing comforting.

I try to write and all I can summon up is regurgitated Bon Jovi lyrics.
Which is probably no bad thing. 

It's just bloody lonely.

Sometimes all that is left is a tiny dead body.
Cold and purple. 
And a woman who can't sing.
Howling along to an outdated power ballad.
Tears falling onto mottled, purple hands.
An echo of death.
In the cold, dark English December night.

Mourning for a little body. A little frame. A little heart.
Dear blue eyes.
Short hair that never grew.
A body that stopped so long ago.
Nobody remembers why she is crying.


"Georgina isn't in our family," she says.
Head shaking.

"She is. We can't see her. We can't speak to her. But we can still love her." I insist.
"No mummy," she sighs.

She wants no part of this dead twin complication.
No part of this sister that isn't.
Not right now.


But I'm thrilled.
And buying, buying, buying.
Wrapping, wrapping, wrapping.
Planning, planning, planning.
Working, working, working.
Talking, talking, talking.

Talking myself sick.

Until I stop.

Then . . . 

I'm alone.

Just me and Jon. 

Until I get a better soundtrack.

Thank you Clementine's mama.

All our dear children . . . so very missed. Always.