I turned 20 yesterday.
In some ways, I was shocked that I had reached this milestone.
When the clock struck 12, my chair broke and I landed on the floor in a heap of laughter, and the light bulb in my salt lamp broke and exploded when I changed it. Then my friends came down the hall holding blueberry muffins with candles in, and sang happy birthday to me. I spent the day with beautiful people, and celebrated hard in the evening.
I was so grateful. To be living, breathing and smiling. I hope I will forever be grateful, even when inevitably things go wrong; this is my life and I’m in love with it again.
This weekend, I went to London to see Katie, and we travelled down to see Uncle Peter. On Saturday we had a cosy day with mince pies, chocolate and candles, and on Sunday we cooked an impromptu roast dinner, after all the restaurants were booked up. We stormed through Tesco, swiping things off the shelves, grabbing rotary chickens and huge Yorkshire puddings. We were stressed, but happy whilst we cooked (or Katie cooked), and for some reason listening to Shania Twain the whole time. Peter tried so hard, and lit my birthday cake in the living room, concentrating hard on lighting each candle. I could almost hear Mum saying ‘bless him’.
Katie made me feel so loved, effortlessly and because she wanted to. I will never spend a day not feeling lucky and amazed to know her and call her my sister. She bought me a beautiful edition of Watership Down, and we cried together, because in that moment we both felt it. The pain which is as great as the day after Mum’s death, a year on.
It is so tough without my mum. My mind has been drawn to her every day since her death, and I hope it carries on that way. Perhaps it is my way of paying homage to her. Perhaps it is just a grieving daughter missing her mum.
Through my birthday, I cried so many tears, of shock, of heartache, of loss, but through all that, there is this shining truth; I survived.
Somehow, I got through my 19th orbit, and I’ve done it impressively.
I, perhaps a bit self-indulgently, applaud myself. I can’t quite believe she’s gone, but now, I can’t quite believe that I am here, and that I am strong, by myself.
I can’t help but think back to my birthday last year. It was so crazy, and empty without Mum. This is only my second birthday without her, and the loss is still heartbreakingly obvious. I feel like my grief is only just a baby learning to walk.
I stand on a precipice before a new decade, and I am afraid. I am afraid because who knows what the next years brings, who I will meet, or who I will be like. I will not have a key person in my life that everyone else has, but I have myself and my team who are rooting for me every step of the way.
I stand on a precipice before a new decade, and I am excited, because now, I am living.