Three long years since you left us baby girl. You would now be entering tweenhood, but I find that so hard to imagine. The little girls my eyes always linger on are the ones that are all the ages you were, not the ones you never got to be. The toddlers wearing gumboots and tutus, pre-schoolers wearing glittery star t-shirts and choosing buns covered in sprinkles at the bakery, gaggles of giggling six year olds.
Some days, when something jogs a forgotten memory, or a photo unexpectedly brings a rush of emotion and I can recall the exact sound, smell, touch of you in that moment, I feel so close I could almost touch you. Other days I feel I am drifting further from you, despite hoarding memories, photographs and all your possessions.
The first year without you, I was barely holding on, riding uncontrollable waves of grief, the second year, I took some tentative steps into the world again. This year the steps have been less shaky, I have been able to raise my eyes from the next step in front of me and look in the direction I want to take.
I know this is the nature of grief, to become less searing and gentler over time, or we would never survive it (though there are still many hard days and bitter moment that catch me by surprise). But still I resent it. It feels like a betrayal, moving forward without you, so I still find ways to take you with me.
Today, as on all your birthdays and anniversaries, we will go to our local cafe (even that has changed a lot since you were last there and this I resent too) and order your favourite breakfast. Then we will plant another new rose for you in the garden. I have some other things in mind, my little rituals for you, some things for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project. These things always keep you close.
As I write this, Charlie Cat is snuggled up against me. He left before you died and turned up again after your second anniversary. But I think you know this. I choose to take as a sign from you, that he is here to help me move from the past to the future while keeping you alive in my heart.