|Life is what happens while you're busy making plans|
New Year's Eve is the most terrifying day of the year. It's a time to take stock of what you have and what you have achieved. It's a time to look forward to what you want and what you are planning for. It's a time to miss those who are no longer with us.
That strange and mournful moment when in the height of celebration they always put photos of those who have died that year on TV with a suitably heart tugging lament. You stand,glass in hand, and stare at the faces and every now and then break the silence to say, "Ooh I didn't know he'd died, " or " I thought she died years ago." Time stands still and then the year moves on. It has to.
Our little Tinker will not have her face on TV tonight on that list so I'm sitting here trying to write something that acts as a reminder and a celebration of her life.I'm sitting here trying to remember how she felt, how she smelled and how she smiled.
Estella was born and died in 2011
We know that when the year changes tonight we lose 2011 and it becomes memory. All around people clink glasses and kiss and hug and smile and welcome the New Year. Maybe some people still lock somebody outside of the house at one minute to midnight and get them 'first footing' when the bells chime- carrying coal and bread and the hopes and fears of all the years into the home.Hearts are beating with the excitement and anticipation and the plans of the days that are to come. Skies ignite with crackled , rainbow shimmering fireworks and the planet spins and the world turns around and around and around
How do we say goodbye to Estella's year ?
How do we say goodbye to the year that brought us our greatest happiness and our deepest sadness ?
How do we say goodbye ?
How do you catch a moonbeam in your hand ?
When a child is born there are so many expecations. So many new lessons. You walk around and exist like sleep sacrificed lurching drunkards as you try to make sense of the new routines and the deprivation of all the liberties you once knew. But somewhere in the foggy madness there are moments. There is the time I cradled Estella in my arms walking the floor and realised that by singing to her and rocking her at the same time while slightly shaking your arms you could make her stop crying and she would look at you with relaxed eyes and beautiful silence. And then when the singing stops and the rocking finishes she starts crying again and you have to start all over.
There were times when at night we would take her into the big bed and lay her between us and by moonlight I would look at her beautiful peaceful face relaxed to be with her Mummy and Daddy and I would know that all life lay ahead of our perfect Tinker. The dresses and the parties and the Christmas tinsel eyes and the dancing and the singing and the school plays and the snowballs and the bicycles and the sand dunes and the crab fishing and the nights mopping her brow because she had caught a cold and .. and all of the beautiful golden moments that time gifts us with. There were nights when I lay looking into those eyes and just knew that she was Daddy's girl and she would never be alone or afraid or upset because we would always be there for her. Our darling Tinker - in the big bed - in our future and in our smiles. Moments of perpetual joy and heavenly devotion.Moemts of relaxed and perfect tranquility. Moments
And now those moments are gone and there are gaps where Estella used to be. Her toys and her outfits are all packed away. Her cot is dismantled. Her Moses basket is in a cupboard. There is a space in the middle of the big bed where she will never lay again and my arms are empty as I look at the places we stood and the places we touched and the places we dreamed. The places we will never see blessed with her smile again. Broken dreams.
I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every tree - filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day - I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women - my own features - mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!
How do we say goodbye to Estella's year ?
The answer - of course - is that you can not. I know enough already in these seven short weeks since she died to know that she never leaves. I know enough already to know that the places where I held her are not filled with regret and I am already drawing memory and happiness from the deepest wells of sorrow. There are moments of absolute despair - moments when you really think that your heart is yearning and aching so much that it will shatter into a thousand pieces at the desire to touch her and to smell her and to kiss her. In those moments you become a wild animal and all emotion is raw and naked and stormlike - you are nothing but desire and regret. You are a parent on their knees to the cruelesst of storms. Those moments pass and there are gentle, reflective moments of pure tranquility and grace when you see her without the tubes and the machines and the breathing apparatus. You see her as the child you rocked in your tired and aching arms. You see her as ... as Estella.
The answer of course is that you never say goodbye. If all of her life was lived within an artificial construct we call 2011 that does not mean that she is left behind as we move towards something we call 2012. It means that the distance between holding her and the moment that is now is greater but there are times when that distance is only a heartbeat. There are times when we know she is with us and we know we can feel the spirit and the promise and the glory that was our darling little girl. Oh there are times...
The answer, of course, is that we reflect on some of the wonderful things that Estella brought. I will give you one now. If you think we loved Estella then you should have seen her with her Grandparents. I don't think I ever understood the nature of that role before. Estella had Maria's parents from the day she was born and I have never seen such pure, unconditional love. They loved her from the start and when she became ill they were the two people who got us through that impossible journey. We have been devestated by losing Estella but in many ways they have been hurt even more. They have seen the Tinker say goodbye but they have also seen the pain and the loss that their daughter has been through. I have never seen two people handle a dreadful crisis with such dignity and care and devotion as Estella's grandparents. They are the most wonderful people I have ever met and they miss her every minute of every day. They are strong for us but they are grieving with a loss beyond loss and tonight will be hard for them too. Amid the loss and the sadness though they still smile and laugh at thoughts of Estella. Bless them. Comfort them. Thank them.How can she ever be gone while they are still loving her.
The answer, of course, is that Estella is not out there spread as ashes by tree and by fountain. She is not imprisoned by time or the constraints of space. She has become the most beautiful thing of all. She has become a traveller who can now walk and run and even fly. She has become all of the things that her poor body could never allow her to be. She has become nature and she has become time and she has become - free.
What she has not become is mere memory. What she has not become is somebody or something that we can not talk about or think about. Those of you who are parents must know that as I sit here writing these rambles my eyes stream with the most dreadful tears and my heart rises and falls with the passion of loss but it is as if these tears that fall on this clicking keyboard are vestiges of Estella freeing herself from my thoughts and appearing on the page. She can never become a memory because she is as real to me now in this room as she has ever been and as she will ever be. She is with us every morning and she is with us every night and there is no space in the middle of the big bed because that's where she sleeps at night . There are no gaps and there are no goodbyes.
They show the faces of those that have passed at midnight. A reminder of our own mortality. A momentary pause where we know that life is short, time is fleeting and our pasts and our futures are all the same. Tonight when that happens we will think of Estella - not because its a special time - not because its a special moment but because, quite simply, because we always think of Estella. She is in our minds always. She is in our hearts always. She is in our hopes always and she is in our arms - always.
There is nothing terrifying about New Year's Eve. There is nothing to fear. There is nothing to lose not when you have already lost everything. There is nothing tragic though about New Year's Eve if you have not lost everything and we - I promise- have not lost everything. Why ? Because we still have Estella.
We still have Estella
Happy New Year Tinker - see you on the other side