Here are the things you have missed:
The first moment of grief. You weren’t there. And suddenly the whole future without you was there. And we had to face it. And it was hard. And I had to say goodbye without you to give me a comforting hug afterwards.
You weren’t there to tell when I got pregnant again. Or to tell you it was a girl.
You didn’t visit me in hospital. You didn’t squeeze my hand and tell me it would be ok.
You didn’t get to see my son meet his little sister. You didn’t get to see those first little cuddles and kisses.
You weren’t there to call when I was still sick and the baby was crying and her brother got angry because she was sucking up all my time and energy. Oh, there were so many other people to call, I know. But I wanted you.
You were holding my eldest when he smiled the first time. But you’ve never seen my daughter smile, never seen the way she wrinkles her nose in glee. Or heard the way she laughs when she knows she is being cheeky.
You haven’t seen my son ride a bike. You didn’t get to visit a castle with him and his Grandad, and watch them fire cannons and shoot arrows at imaginary baddies. It would have made you smile.
You didn’t get to bake a cake and give my daughter a beater to lick and see how happy it made her. I remember you giving my son one for the first time, and you took a photo of him all grubby and happy. And it is a precious memory and always was, because even then we knew the memories were running out.
You miss so much, you miss every day. You miss the tears, and the laughter. You miss the falling over and kissing scraped hands and knees. You miss scolding kids who won’t brush their teeth, or put on shoes. You miss sibling fights, and afternoons cuddling on the couch watching TV. You miss first steps, and counting to ten, and learning to write his name, and favourite books, and drawing, and nursery rhymes, and skype, and building duplo, and having tea parties, and wiping runny noses, and doing the same puzzle over and over, and the piles of washing, and 829 family dinners. You miss all the minutiae of life. Because, of course, you are not alive.
Life goes on. It is full and rich and full of wonderful moments. But if I were to write it in a book every page would have one letter erased, the space where you are missing.
By missing you I keep you with me, safe in my heart. In that way my children will know you.
I hold my daughter and sing her the same songs you sang to me.
I stroke my son’s hair as he lies in bed.
I tidy up, and clean, and cook dinners, and wash clothes, and when I feel like my children take me for granted I think of you and know that that is ok. Children should be able to take their parents for granted.
I get out your old cookbook and we bake. I feel the words you wrote underneath my fingers. And it tastes like my childhood home and you are there.