It’s been one year since you died, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, 31536000 seconds (and yes I had to look those last three numbers up; I bet you would have known). And yet it still feels like yesterday.
I still turn into the cul de sac and expect to see you there. I still think I see you on the street, walking the dog, in your living room window. I still feel your presence in our little cul-de-sac family.
I’ve dreamt about you a couple of times. I’ve dreamt that this past year was a dream and your mum was amused at my emotions at seeing you alive. I can’t tell you how much I woke up that morning wishing the dream was real and the awake was the dream.
I bet you’ve visited your own family and friends many many more times.
This past year has held many milestones. Your mums first birthday without you. First Christmas without you (I missed your mum’s text saying this year would definitely be the last year Father Christmas would be walking past our house at 10.25pm. If we wanted to look out our window) ; first birthday without you, first Mother’s Day, first Father’s Day, first day back at school, Catrin’s first birthday, first this, first that. So many firsts. Would we have preferred to have known last year that they were lasts?
But the worst have been the milestones that Mack and Dewi have had that you should have too. I’m so sorry. I’m sure Leanne is too. I’m so sorry you didn’t get your first driving lesson. I’m so sorry you didn’t get your first driving test. I’m so sorry you didn’t get your first solo driving experience. And yes I’m so sorry you didn’t get your first A-level exam and first bump in the car. Does it help your family to know we think of you every time our sons do these things? Does it help your family to know we wish we could hide our sons’ and their cars and their firsts from the cul de sac? If it does: it does. Every. Single. Day.
I talk about you often. People who didn’t know you, know about you. We raised a few £s in work by donating Christmas card money to RR81 and I put up your mum’s letter above the photocopier in work so people would read it out of boredom. A couple of people have asked me about you. Most don’t of course. That’s death. Grief makes you realise these things.
I talk about you at home. Jenna (Mack’s girlfriend) said they might go to the beach after their exams. I looked horrified. She said “we’ll get a lift, I promise”. She knew. She knows. She knew you by association it turns out. A lot of people did, that’s the affect you had.
I think about you every day. I think about how hard it must be for your family. And I feel bad for feeling sad next to their grief, so I push it away: insignificant compared to someone else’s reality. And I try to think of my blessings. And blessed I am, I know that. But it’s hard seeing my 17-year-old when there should be an additional one next door.
But we made it through a year without you. I’ve said to people that the first year is the hardest with all its firsts. Turns out I didn’t really know what I was talking about. People say things. Nobody really knows what they are talking about. At least I said something, right? Not everyone does.
And I still don’t know what to say. So I’ll just say what I think.
It’s been a year without you. Feels like ten thousand years and no time at all.
Which makes no sense. But neither does the fact that you’re dead.
But I’ll never forget you. One year later or one hundred. Your sixteen years had an impression.
You are missed.