I took some snaps of Audrey one morning before school, she was beaming in full uniform and a little rucksack on her back. Rex and I dropped her at school and returned home to wait for Bibi (Grandma) to come. Rex was watching back-to-back Paw Patrol whilst I emptied the dishwasher and tidied the kitchen as best I could in the 20-30 minutes I would usually have before my mother-in-law Sarah arrived to watch Rex whilst I went to work in a cafe for 3-4 hours.
Ten minutes late was not unusual. I felt relief to be quite organised and ready for Sarah’s arrival. Twenty minutes late was unusual. But calling people when they are late and might be driving could add to their stress, so I didn’t do anything for a bit. I’m not sure what the order was particularly, but I know I called her mobile and home, twice. I sent a message via What’s app and a text. I messaged a friend to see if they had heard she wasn’t coming.
When she was around 30-40 minutes late I was definitely panicked, but I didn’t want to worry my husband Ted, so I called my brother and asked him what I should do.
I’ve relived the events of this particular morning in October more than I would care to. Recounting the details to shocked friends, watching their eyes widen when I say “she just didn’t turn up”. The fear that one day, someone might suddenly not be there. Well on that day, Sarah was no longer there. Ted and I have no parents, the children have no grandparents (well, one great grandparent – my 100 year old nan!).
When I recount the deaths of my father, Ted’s father, my sister, my auntie, my mother and now my mother-in-law… well I do feel like people may view me as the grim reaper. Our little (evidently getting smaller by the year) family is a happy one though. We feel so grateful to have each other and many wonderful friends to get us through these times, but, there has been a lot of death around us.
It’s now 2020. People are summarising their decade with weddings and travels and new jobs. I can see mine in two ways:
On the one hand, 2010: the year my father died. 2011: the year Ted’s father died. 2012: the year my sister died. 2013: the year we had a disabled child. 2014: the year I was made redundant and had a miscarriage. 2015: Audrey started therapy to learn to walk. 2016: the year we had Rex and learnt what exhaustion really means. 2017: the year I was made redundant again, the year my mother died. 2018: my brother was undergoing treatment for cancer, I was in therapy. 2019: the year Ted’s mum died.
Or I could look at it like this…
2010: I ran my first 5K.
2011: Ted and I got engaged.
2012: Ted and I got married and had an amazing honeymoon in New York.
2013: Ted ran a marathon. We had a beautiful baby girl!
2014: I started a new job.
2015: I got pregnant with Rex. We moved from a flat to a house.
2016: We had another beautiful baby! Audrey learned to walk (and so did Rex at 10 months)!
2017: I spoke to trainee midwives for the Down Syndrome Association’s ‘Tell It Right’ campaign. I met some significant new friends.
2018: Audrey became a model and started mainstream school, I started freelance writing.
2019: Audrey became a TV star. I got a new job working for a charity I care about. My Nan turned 100 years old.
We have definitely experienced more than our fair share of death, but we’ve had our fare share of good fortune too. We hope that 2020 sees us find a new home and that everyone we know and love remain in good health.
Belated Happy New Year!