Five Years – Mom.

Dear Mom,

When a child turns five, their parents feel this strange sense of pride and longing. Like, five is a “whole hand” and the baby days are very over.

You see, mom, my daughter turned five just after you left us. And now, in a few short days, she’ll turn ten, which means your leaving has turned five. The baby days of your leaving are done. It’s time to grow up.

It seems like simple mathematics but it truly doesn’t communicate the amount of time that you’ve been gone. On some level, it still doesn’t feel real, but on every other plain of life, the void of where you used to be is wide and long.

We recently installed a dining room table into our house. I know, I know, you must be rolling your eyeballs at this, because “eating on your laps is for Philistines!” but, really, we did it for a long time and liked it that way.

Just last night, as we settled down to dinner round the table (side note – I absolutely understand why you loved doing it this way. Looking back, I’d have insisted less on TV dinners as a young kid). So we eat dinner, laugh about our days and then play this hilarious game of Charades. The noise is all familial chaos, and I can’t help but hear the cadence of our family dinners at the table. Where a food fight will happen or we’ll try and figure out the hell it was you cooked for us tonight. I hear that aura of dinners gone past, and see it in front of me, repeated like a chaotic love assembly.

But I’m not here to mourn you. I realised this last week, as I tried to hold the loss of you in my hands again. It used to weigh me down, and it still does. There is a relief in me though, as I feel assured of my ability to provide your legacy with continuance. I feel part of the chain, finally, on my own terms. That is what you wanted for me, after all.

This doesn’t make me miss you any less. It doesn’t make missing you any easier. It is, I know, part of the assimilation I’m supposed to go through. I feel a double grief, where I now think that I know of your going but – in the spirit you infused into me – I feel a tendency to want to not accept it. Acceptance isn’t something you or I could come to easily, but it is something we had thrust upon us, right? Haha.

Your first grandchild is now up to my eyebrows in height. In a year, she will have grown past my head. I mark the time of her life in comparison to you and Dad. Her tenth birthday symbolises the imminent decade of Dad being gone, and the same birthday marks your halfway mark to being gone a decade. I wonder sometimes, Mom, was that planned? I lost you and Dad at all these critical points in my child’s life. There’s an element of life’s cruelty in that, which I can probably never accept, but I have learnt to live with. There’s also an element of beauty in it, because sometimes the saddest things are the most striking. Her existence is evidence of the cycle of life, and how it is all tied back to you and Dad, so remarkably, is a constant reminder.


As I hold the loss of you in my hands again, for one more year, I feel compelled to celebrate you. Just as a raging rainstorm will wash away the dry dust that’s built up over time, I feel it is abating now. My anger at your loss is fading, but it’s replaced by indelible signs of your spirit and character as they play out in my life. Sometimes I look at my diary and see unmissable symbols and patterns of you, that leave me wondering – would I still see them so clearly if you were here?

Mom, you may no longer be at my table, or being “a nag” about something, but you taught me how to set that table for my own life and family, and “be a nag” about the right type of things. Thank you for that.

But Mom, I hope you’re free. I wish I knew for certain that you were liberated in the way you always wished to be. I can only hope to spy on your beyond-life dance in my dreams sometimes. I have no true symbols of what happiness you feel, except for the joy I feel in my own heart, in a moment where I know you would be happy if you were here.

The magnitude of you is not forgotten. The immense void of where you used to be, widens every day. But it’s not because you are lost to me – you are just woven into my every word, on this side of the void.

With my left arm flung over my head as I talk, I will miss you forever.




There was this afternoon earlier this year, where I looked at you and realised you’d been finishing my sentences all day. It wasn’t some ploy to annoy me (although you know how well that would work haha) but it was rather a sign of how very accustomed you’ve become to the sometimes – what others may find unpredictable – sentences that ramble out of my mouth.

When we went to see the house a few weeks ago and you seemed so shocked to find that I loved it, I realised too that, in some respects, I still surprise you. The look of confused relief on your face will probably make me giggle internally for the next million years. 

That’s the thing about you and I though. We’ve got this thing we’ve been doing for a very long time, and yet it’s never ever really settled down. Sure, this is as settled as we’ve probably ever been, as individuals yet, every now and then, one or both of us will shake it up a little. Sometimes, it’ll be both of us.

And that’s why, now that we’ve rolled around to this date, our five year anniversary, we’re not spooking each other with surprise hotel trips or funny fiascos for one-night stops in cities not within our postal code range. Instead, our shakeups are done together and we’ll be moving this week, into a new home that signifies a total shakeup of every dance step we’ve done over the past years. Like that time you danced with me outside a restaurant while we waited for takeout, and I knew then that I actually won some sort of life lottery. 

There have been a lot of dance steps. Some of them we had no clue how to start. Some of them I’d stand on your toes and you’d wince. Some of them, you’d start before I was ready, and I’d still be trying to catch up while you wondered what the heck I was doing. But somewhere, in the middle of the too-fast tune or the terribly slow melody, we’d figure out our fumbles and carry on. 

That’s the thing about us – we figure out our fumbles and carry on. After five years of figuring out our fumbles, one would think we’d be dab hands at them but, life always does enjoy surprising us. And, when we figure out those fumbles, we learn something new. So now, when I trip over your feet or your elbow accidentally pokes my eyeball,  I smile. We’re still learning, and I like it that way.

You stick by me when I cannot stand my own self. Sometimes I deeply wonder why the heck you do that, especially when I’m about 12 seconds away from exploding into a blaze of fireworks and noxious gases. Sometimes I don’t know why you do it, or how you do it, but you do. I’m not the easiest person to live with, and I hate the way I let the world in too often, but you’ve enabled me to learn a level of self-preservation that, sometimes, on the horrible days, I can laugh the worst off. Thank you for that. Being reinforced by a perspective that is not wallowing (my go-to state for most of life so far) helps. More than you know.

Oh, here comes a lol.

When we first started dating, I had my well-worn copy of He’s Just Not That Into You on my bedside table. And it bugged the living crap out of you. You’d laugh at me for it, use it as a talking point and then, once, very sweetly, let me know that the book’s title was the opposite of you. You didn’t need to tell me then, I knew. But it still counted for me, so much, that you said it (and then desperately scrabbled through the book to try and figure out what gobbledeegook was written on those pages). I did need that book, in that time of my life, but it’s safely packed away now. I know, I packed it away when we started sticking things into boxes for the new house and, when I pulled it off the bookshelf, I laughed at it. That’s the thing about you – you can make me laugh on even the most terrible of days, and at the most horrible of situations. Thank you. 

After five years of making me laugh, I can’t help but look with the same sense of wonder and astonishment as I wore that 8 December night with the Tupperware and the baked goods. 

And while we’re doing nothing flashy this year, the greatest mark for me, on this anniversary, is that – at some point – you’re going to look at me over the boxes and life being packed up in an array, and crack a joke that’s on point and I’ll cackle.

You’re my second favourite human, and my first favourite adult. And the best part of that sentence is that I know it’s the same for you, with me. Thank you for five years of all this funny. I love you to pieces. Pass the remotes. Would you like (nudi)tea?




Five Years

Dear Dadadadad,

It’s funny, really. Five years seems to have flown by faster than I ever thought it could. Eldest sibling told me something once – that the moment I start working, for real, life would speed up to faster than I could wobble with it. It seems, though, that the greatest speed took hold when you left.

Last night, lying in bed with Cam and Shmooshy, watching the Powerpuff Girls, Cam stood up and jumped off the bed. Mentally, I marvelled. How did my little 50centimetre miracle bundle become this tall, long-legged wonder of learning and growing? When the heck did that happen? I know when it happened. It happened when you weren’t with me to console me at 4am with funny stories and half-cups of tea. It happened when you were not on the phone, telling me how to do things, without stopping me from doing it my way.

How you would have grinned through these five years. How you would have clapped your hands and cuddled. How you would have sung all the Happy Birthdays to Cam, and her cousins. How you would have talked to me and said “the child needs…”.

Sometimes I hear you say that, in my head. Like the time we were speaking and I was trying not to sink into the chair and pretend like a lot of what was happening was not happening. And you said, you said “the child just needs love. the rest you’ll figure out”.

As always, you were right.

You said you weren’t worried about me. You said, in love, I’d be blessed, even when I doubted you and crossed my eyebrows. Even when I snorted in derision and listened to you say “It’s the honey of life, and sometimes the jar just isn’t easy to open. One day, it’ll be easy to open. It really is that simple”.

…Papa, love your princess so that she will find loving princes familiar…

You said you weren’t concerned. Whether I was alone or not. You said I’d make it through just fine. Possibly a little off-kilter but you weren’t worried that I’d fall over. Falling over is normal, you said. You said it was the part where I’d let something keep me down, that you knew was impossible.

So, when I was alone, I thrived on the faith you had in me to get through it, to embrace it and to learn from it.

And when I was not alone anymore, funny things would happen and I would know, somehow, that you were watching.

I wish I was a glow worm, a glow worm’s never glum. ‘Cos how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum!

What can I tell you about these five years? That I grew. That I learnt. That I danced. That I laughed. And I cried.  I made tea, at 2am. And I wondered. I fought with myself and sometimes, I won. I fought with everyone else and sometimes, I lost. That I hoped, all along, that you were proud.

Now. Now, you have mama with you. That must’ve been a reunion beyond all compare. How she’d missed you. How I realised, long after you had gone, that your enduring love was something that I could only hope to replicate in my own life. The reason why I only realised that so late in life, is something I do not question. I guess I realised it only when I was ready to. I’m working on it, by the way. Heh.

When Mama went, I stayed up one night and went through the family computer. She’s left me the books to write, you see. Funny, somewhere, I always knew one of you would.  I found all the little things you’d written me, some banal, frankly terrible writing of my own and, I found things mom had written. I was awed. It turns out, I didn’t just get this from you, I get it from both of you.

You said, one day, I’d see more of mom in myself than I would see you. I balked and said “no, no, I am more like you than I am mom, and mom even says so”.

Of course, you were right and I started to catch myself, with my left arm flung over my head, again snorting in derision as someone told me how I should behave and how I should be. Which was, for all reasons beyond muster, not being myself. How I’ve started to see her in the gentle firmness I sometimes have to take. How I see her in the frank determination to not give up, or waver in a belief that I wholly embrace. I see her in my lack of fear, and I see her in my always-concern for the people I love. I see her in the way I am a mother, more worried about whether or not I have loved every moment enough, and not worried about how many moments there really are.

As always, you were right.

As for you. You who is in the words and the working-all-night-because-this-has-to-get-done-ness. You who taught me how to make eggs, and now Cameron demands that I make them like that for her, on Saturday mornings. She says “like the way your Dad taught you to”. I guess it’s hilarious that I’d never told her that you taught me how to make them. She’s just always known. Nobody knows that I once phoned you and said “Dad, I’m too embarrassed to phone Mom so, please, how the heck do you boil an egg!?!”. Well, if they’re reading this, they’ll know now.

You said ” you have good friends”. I thought I did then. You didn’t tell me to expect them to be even more awesome. You didn’t tell me to expect that the speed-dial list would slim down, and that I’d actually love that part. That there would be such richness of life in the group of people who I love, and who love Cam and I. Now I look at them and I know. I feel more a part, than I do apart. Which, as you know, is what I struggled with for so many years growing up. How it was you that taught me the importance of honouring that every time I got to hold hands, laugh or feel the true company of people who are not afraid of being themselves. You said, “with time, all things do come”.

As always, you were right.

How you and Mom are still a part of every single day. In every single thing I do. Still, in the way I write things. Still, in the way that this life I live, is the one you both gave to me, in love. Still, in the life I’ve been bestowed with caring for, and the small person who is becoming bigger and so like me it’s scary and wondrous all at the same time.

Thank you.

I love you and miss you every single day, Dadadadad.