Monday, 25 August 2014


I was busy extracting your sister's birthday presents from the depth of the wardrobe when I saw your box. Its deep pink ribbon caught my eye. I haven't opened it for years. It sits perched on top of two boxes of various baby clothes that I cannot bring myself to part with. All three of these sit on top of a box containing my wedding dress which has never been opened since I wore it.

Quite why I'm devoting all this storage space to boxes I never open I couldn't say.

I took out the presents. There didn't seem to be much. But there never seems to be enough. 

Your sister's main present this year was a bicycle and it seemed silly to save that until the end of August, the end of summer and the warm weather. 
So she had that. Spokies. A bell. A Hello Kitty helmet. Streamers for the handle bars. Because that sales lady knew a sucker when she saw one coming.

So I'm left with a few boxes of plastic stuff to wrap for tomorrow. A couple of books. 

We went out today. With your brother and your sister. Your uncle, your cousins. Your sister sulked over toys and not being able to make herself understood. She said to me, 'everything is harder than it looks.' I said, 'you're not wrong. Lots of things are harder than they look.' 'Go away,' she snapped. My advice was obviously useless to her. But she pretty much had it right. I wasn't going to lie and tell her that everything is a cakewalk.

Anyway I saw your box and opened it up. The bright yellow cloth bag with its cheery teddy bear print. It hadn't changed. The small woollen blanket wrapping the zip lock bag of ashes. Urn never bought. The ashes seemed fewer and finer than I remembered. I held them for a moment, hoping that I might somehow persuade you back to life. 

I looked at the few photographs I have of you. So tiny. Your blue eyes. Your tiny strands of hair. My own stupid eager face whilst you were alive. That was the photograph that shocked me the most. A full face portrait of me. I'm not wearing the same clothes I was on the day that you died so I guess it must have been taken before. I look so hopeful. Smudgy hopeful black and white me, developed in a hospital lab as the photographs were deemed too grim to send in to a conventional place. 

And looking at the photographs I have of you I see what a slim chance it was. An outside bet. I'd forgotten how many there were. Those photographs.

I also have the stabbing realisation of how very much you look like your sisters. Both of them. Not just your twin. So certainly one of us. A W. baby. I see that in your looks now I have had two of your siblings. For a brief moment Jessica and Alice share your fate as I lose focus. 

When I look at those photographs I hope that you got away. That you simply slipped out of this life and were set free. There isn't much to be gained. Mulling over the unknowable after all these years have passed but it is all I have left. I'm still concerned. I still love you. I miss you more than I could ever say.

And I still do not know. After all this time. If it is relief or grief that I feel for you.  

'I do not know' is the only true statement that the mind can make.
Nisargdatta Maharaj