This weekend was a difficult one for many, with more changes of plans, but the important thing is to focus on what really matters.
Yesterday would have been my eldest daughter’s 21st birthday. We’ve been building up to it for weeks. I’ve been planning what we should do, what we can do. I have felt under a lot of pressure to make her birthday special in some way, to do her justice. I don’t want to let her down or to feel that there is nothing more I can possibly do for her. You can’t stop looking after someone just because they are not physically here.
It’s been a turbulent time for everyone. Schools have been opening and closing year groups. Everything is up in the air. At the end of November daughter two tested positive for Covid. The following week we all had it, our self isolation period ending on Saturday, the day before daughter one’s birthday. We could go out and do something together to celebrate her. We figured we would go to London and walk over London Bridge and along the Thames, a walk she so enjoyed, especially at night with all the lights shining on the river. Even when she was little daughter one loved the freedom and excitement of the night. She would go for walks at midnight, something I was more than a little worried about. I told her not to go out alone. When she went to university she managed to convince all her flatmates to go for midnight walks together across London Bridge.
So we were looking forward to going into London, but then came the Prime Minister’s announcement about Tier 4. It seemed that, despite the fact that we had all had Covid, we could not go anywhere. So we rethought the plan. We would stay local and go to the part of the local forest which was the source of so many of the made-up stories I told daughter one when she was little. I would tell her that the gnarled, ancient trees came alive at night and shuffled down to the lake to listen to tales from around the world. Each night there would be a special guest who would tell their story. Daughter one would hang on every word. Her funeral took place in the forest and I said at the time that I never imagined that she would be the special guest, but that all the trees were listening and that we would tell stories about her for ever more.
At midnight on Saturday I posted a video of her that she sent to her sister when we were in A & E with only son. It was her singing “Too cool for you” from the great Camp Rock, which we watched on repeat when she was younger. In the video she is dancing and her face is shining, possibly due to her having just done her extensive nightly moisturising routine, but she looks radiant and full of joy.
I still wake up at night hearing the police knock on the door that night. And it still feels unreal. Nothing in the world feels real this year, but we just have to hang onto each other and get through this. We went for a midnight walk together on daughter one’s birthday as a tribute to her and rolled together all our love to send out to the universe for her.