Tonight I’ll be lighting a yartzeit candle – a memorial candle that burns for 24 hours and lit on the anniversary of the death of a close relative. I’m writing this letter because it just feels too long since we last spoke, since we last had a chat about ordinary stuff, about the every day things.
Everyone told me that the first year would be the worst – the first time we did things without you there. And although it was hard, I find that as each year passes the need to see you or speak with you actually gets stronger. I’ve learnt to live without you but not with losing you.
I still have your number in my phone, you’re still my friend on Facebook. When is the right time to change these?
Strangely, it’s not the big times when I miss you most, but the little, almost inconsequential things that still bring tears to my eyes and a great big lump to my throat.
Like spending the day shopping with Amy in London and having a fabulous time, culminating in both of us splurging a rather indecent amount of money on a fabulous pair of high heels. And as we queued up to pay we laughed at how you would always insist on trying on our new shoes and then acting surprised that they wouldn’t fit, even though you were at least a size bigger than us. And in that moment of remembering, my heart broke all over again.
Or when we go on holiday and after landing and waiting for our luggage, I don’t need to text to tell you that we’ve landed safely. Given the recent news coverage when a plane goes missing, it did seem a little strange to think that without that text you might never had known we had arrived safely, but I still miss sending it to you.
Josh got engaged last month, which is wonderful. But it was so hard because what I really wanted to do was call and tell you the lovely news and then have to ask you to not tell anyone for the next few hours whilst he told their friends, knowing that the moment I hung up you would ignore my request and proudly call everyone and anyone in true Sybil fashion!
Mother’s Day has come and gone three times and that always makes me feel lost. If you’re a single person on Valentine’s Day you can rebel against the hype and declare yourself proud to be independent. Doesn’t quite work the same way when there’s no need to queue in Clintons or make merry in the M&S Flower Shop.
I want Jess to make me laugh when she complains that you still grab her arm very tight when crossing a road, even though she’s now 18 years old. I want Laura to know about your childhood years, stories that are now lost.
I miss trying to make arrangements to spend time with you, but getting frustrated that your social life was far better than mine. I miss the way you could just make a comment that would make me feel 14 years old again – and I’d then behave like a sulky teenager too.
I miss taking your presence for granted, for believing that we would have many more years together and thinking that there was always another day to make plans with you. I miss the endless jokey e-mails you forwarded to me on a daily basis, none of which were that funny!
In the last year I’ve had quite a career change and for the first time you would probably appreciate the job that I do. Seven years ago when I decided to freelance you never quite got how I could work for myself but that meant working for other people too. I miss my mum proudly telling everyone her daughter is now a teacher – even though you still probably wouldn’t understand what marketing communications is!
I get jealous of friends who have lost parents but had time to say goodbye first. I get anxious around friends who lost a parent as suddenly as I lost you – I can see in their eyes the shock and disbelief of what’s happened. And in some strange way, you’re the person I really want to talk to about it.
I miss you sitting in my kitchen, trying to complete a Sudoku puzzle over endless cups of tea. I miss you keeping me up to date with all the Nottingham family news, making up the bits that you’re not sure of so that it just sounds more interesting.
I want to tell you that my brother and I are close again, for you to see us all together as a family. I want you to meet our dogs and spoil them, as I know you would. I want to have a conversation with you where you ask what’s new, and I just say “nothing much.”
So I’ll light my candle tonight and remember you with love as I have done every day for the last three years. You did a good job mum – I turned out OK!