Although it makes me so sad to know that these are the last photos of all of us together, I am also glad that we do have them and that we managed to make some really happy memories just days before Roger died.
Florence turned two on the Saturday, and we had a relatively quiet day with my parents, Roger’s mum, sister and brother and my sister-in-law round to share some cake.
On the Sunday, I’d decided it would be a good idea to host a barbecue party for our close friends and their children. A chance for us all to get together for just a couple of hours, for them to see Rog and also to allow our children to have a normal, happy and memorable celebration for Florrie’s birthday. I had wondered if it had been a moment of madness when I added up that there would be 10 adults and 10 children at our house, and whether that would be too much for Rog. Luckily the sun shined, the paddling pool came out and we managed to keep the kids outside most of the time, playing in the water and on the trampoline happily while the adults caught up over a bbq and a few glasses of wine. Although I was nervous at how it would go, having that bit of normality, that happy, chaotic party, was an important memory to keep as Roger’s final weekend.
It was a good job that the evening before, a surprise birthday cake arrived on our doorstep, left by my real life cake fairy Lisa from Into the Glade. Isn’t it lovely? You might remember if you’ve been reading for a while that Lisa baked beautiful birthday cakes for Roger, Sam and I in the spring, as well as a carrot cake (Roger’s fave) just because I said he liked it.
We look happy on the photos, but I know it took Rog every ounce of strength left in his body to make it downstairs that day. He was so tired by then, he must have said every hour of the morning that he was going to get up but although his mind wanted to join us, his body was really struggling to keep up. When he did get up, he was welcomed so warmly by our friends. As he walked out to the dining table, everyone tried to offer him their seat and make sure he was comfortable but I remember feeling I was going to cry as I saw how frail and weak he was standing alongside so many healthy looking people.
Luckily, that moment was interrupted as Florence had seen him and came running over from the paddling pool, hugging his legs as she shouted ‘Daddy!’. It was as if she was the only one who saw through how poorly he looked, and just saw her beloved father as any other little girl would.
Roger wrote letters to leave to the children before he passed away. The one he wrote for Florrie I hadn’t seen until the other day, and I found it especially difficult to read. I know he had trouble knowing what to say, as with Sam being six, he felt he knew him better, knew his personality and had some idea of the kind of adult he would grow up to be. With a two-year-old it’s so much harder. Character traits are there, of course, but it’s impossible to know what kind of child – let alone adult – they will become.
My husband was a journalist like me, and I looked up to him in so many ways but especially when it came to his writing. He has left them some beautiful letters which I know will be treasured, and Florrie’s contains things he’d never really said out loud to me, although I knew he was thinking them. The main feeling was this:
Sadly, this wretched illness has meant I’ve had to come to terms with missing so much of your lives, and yours more than anyone Flo.
I don’t think I should share any more as it was meant for his little girl, and also it has made me cry and will probably make you cry too!
So this is the third post I have written for the Me and Mine series, where you take a photograph a month of your family all together. If you like, you can have a peek and our portraits for May and June. May is my absolute favourite.
Next month if we manage a Me and Mine, it will have to show us as a family of three. One of us will be missing, but never ever forgotten.