Zoe. Another year without you, the second. How can that be when I wanted time to cease the moment you left me behind?
This time of year is especially hard to be without you. Spring brings unwelcome reminders that life goes on. “I love Spring” you said on the first day of Spring, 28 days before you died. In the days after you died, I remember being angry that there were still calves and lambs in the paddocks. Now I can’t help thinking each day of what we were doing on this day two years ago, the last precious, heartbreaking days we had with you. My thoughts turn dark and the days become that little bit harder to get through. I want to hibernate until it’s over. Then we get to this day, the day you left us. And we find a way to get through it.
Two years on, things are the same, and not the same. The clothes you were wearing when you left us are still in my drawer, the dress you wore to your fairy party, one of your last outings, still hangs alongside my clothes. I have packed up your toys, but they are all still in your cupboards. I sometimes open the doors to look at your clothes hanging there. Every pretty dress, every pair of trackies, every twirly scarf is made of memories. But I have painted the house, bought new cushions, making changes a little at a time, as each one feels a step further from you. You even spent a little bit of time at your nan’s house in your beautiful wooden box when I took a bigger step and travelled in Europe.
Your friends are growing up (but remember you still) while you remain six and a half. An age of tooth fairy visits, though you had just one wobbly baby tooth and didn’t live to receive even one gold coin in return for it. An age of big achievements like learning to ride your bike without training wheels and memorising dance routines at your performance class. An age when you still believed in the goodness of people, the simplicity of right and wrong and the ability of your parents and teachers to right any injustice. A lovely age to be, just not forever. The injustice I cannot right is the one that keeps you six and half forever. The same one that this year took your Camp Quality friend Little Pete join you, 10 forever. The injustice that is childhood cancer.
I can’t make time cease, but I can carry you forward with me. I can’t hold you in my arms, give you butterfly kisses or look into your lovely brown eyes, but I can mother you in my heart. Every day I speak your name, I look at photos of you, I keep your things around me (I sometimes even eat lunch from your lunchbox). I tend the garden I planted for you (despite being not very green fingered), I make a prayer flag each year. I keep your spirit alive with The Angel Zoe Kindness Project. I try very hard to believe in the goodness in people, even if I can’t fix the injustice in the world.
Last evening to mark 730 days without you, your Dad came around and together with your Nan, we planted a beautiful pink standard rose under my bedroom window.
These things don’t make me sad, at least no sadder than I would already be, they keep me connected to you and to that part of me that will always be your mama, no matter what else I am doing in my life. And that brings me a very special joy.