Despite my best intentions to ignore the milestones they keep on happening, with or without you.
We celebrated your Mum’s 80th birthday back in August. A rushed trip of some 1,850 kilometres all up with just four days to do the 9 hour plus journey, see your Mum, enjoy a night out together and turn around and do the next 9 plus hours again.
Of course I complicated the whole thing by deciding to make a scrapbook photo album a couple of days before. I was still cutting and sticking at midnight in a Sydney motel room. But hey I got it done. She loved it. Although she cried as she turned the pages and saw your face morphing from child to man then moving into the pages where you were no longer present.
Trying to fit events in with the ever-increasing schedules of a 20 year old and a 17 year old is difficult. They have their own lives now, it’s not like the days when we were in control of what they did, when they did it, who they did it with. Sometimes I forget and book things and then have to check if the living-away-from home 20 year-old can fit us in to her busy schedule.
The next big milestone is my birthday next month. Half-a-century. How the hell did that happen? I have been going to have a party, not going to have a party, going to have drinks with friends, going to have dinner with family, not doing anything. Up and down, round and round, an endless loop of not knowing what I wanted to do.
These sort of events always draw attention to what’s missing. As the years go by you learn to manage on a day-by-day basis. But then you hit the big life moments and the absence becomes more acute.
As the new year starts the Princess Child will officially become a grown-up with her 18th birthday.
Guess what Simon, despite her lack of desire to learn to drive and my complete lack of interest in teaching her, somehow the two of us got the job done. Last week she got her provisional licence. Which means I can send her to the shops by herself for the stuff I’ve forgotten for tonight’s dinner. Or as her sister helpfully pointed out, “now you can drive and Mum and I can have a few drinks”. Priorities.
Then in February Hippie Child will be 21. There’s been more discussion about what we should do for that event. Even which town to hold it in. There’s Port Macquarie but her new home is Newcastle, who do we ask to travel the new friends or the old family?
Apparently, Princess Child wants to go to Newcastle for a weekend soon. Well actually she wants to go the trendy donut shop there and have some “unicorn donut”. So, I’m driving 2 1/2 hours each way for donuts. But at least while I’m there we can check out some of the local pubs who do 21st birthday party deals. One of the advantages of a university town is the pubs seem very open to having their venue invaded by a bunch of twenty-something party-goers.
Then we are done with the milestones for a while. We will have celebrated the event, recognised the moment, acknowledged the passing of time. We will slip back into the everyday. The grief will slide back under the surface. Even now, three and a half years on, there isn’t a week which goes by when one of us doesn’t have a teary moment, a stab of missing you, a wish you were here to hug or talk to or share a laugh. I hope you know that, wherever you are.