It was a few minutes before my son’s pirate birthday party on Sunday. It had been an emotional morning. In this ‘year of firsts’ I have normally found myself hit by the absence of my mum afterwards. With Mr G’s birthday though, it hit me first thing in the morning.
I think G’s life has become interwoven with memories of mum in quite different ways. I was pregnant with him when mum was diagnosed with a brain tumour, I will never forget that phone call. My body sank like a lead weight, yet I was acutely aware of the life inside me. On the day I went into labour, mum had a scan which seemed clear, although we knew it was an aggressive cancer that would always come back. Mum was too ill to come to his first or second birthday parties.
My Dad had arrived shortly before the party, there’s sometimes an awkward moment, just a spilt second, in the hallway, a pause in which we still half expect mum to pop up behind him. But, Dad had hugs, presents, chocolate coins and balloons. He quickly raised the excitement stakes.
It was in blowing up the balloons it happened. Dad had found them in a drawer at home. I pulled out a yellow one, with a face on it. Drawn by mum. I’ve written about her birthday card doodling here. We smiled, I’m not at all religious or superstitious, but these little signs become hugely significant. It felt as if she was smiling at us, telling us to enjoy the party, just like she would. And so we did.