Ruth's 12th Birthday

Sunday (26th January, 2014) would have been Ruth's 12th birthday had she lived. Lou finds these days really, really, hard, and I find it really, really, hard to watch her suffering so much. Our pain is divergent at these times. For me, it presents an exercise in brinkmanship, hiding from the pain that threatens to engulf me, whilst acknowledging that it is a reality. For Lou, it is a time to embrace the sorrow and allow the waves of melancholy to breach her mental defenses for a few hours, cry a few tears, and indulge thoughts of what she should be doing with Ruth on this day.

Lou bought a beautiful helium balloon bearing the legend "Happy Birthday". This was for John to let go outside. Our typically boisterous ten-year-old musters great dignity on such occasions and always surprises us both with the seriousness he displays and the gravitas with which he treats them. Looking somber, he said a little prayer; he knows she is in Heaven, safe with all our family, and he hoped she was having a good time on her birthday, and he would see her soon. Then he let it go in the back garden. We all stood together and silently watched it float ever further upwards, eventually disappearing into the clouds that wreathed Leigh-on-Sea on Sunday.

This was one of those moments of extreme solidarity for all five of us who knew Ruth and love her. I felt overwhelmed by sadness as I watched that balloon disappear, like the life of my beloved child disappeared. The reality of Ruth faded from my life until it is now nothing but a memory of the beautiful person she is. Knowing you will never see someone you love desperately is an impossible concept to cope with. When my friend John's mum died, he told me he couldn't think that he would never see her again, but he often didn't see her for a week, so he told himself he wouldn't see her this week.

Although it's not quite the same with Ruth, as she was someone I saw every day, and someone I had a very special and close relationship with, eventually the knowledge that she is in Heaven has grown and is even a source of joy to me. I speak to her about what is troubling me. I remember her in my prayers every day. I ask her to intercede for me when I am struggling with things and I know if I can live out my faith, I will see her again. I so look forward to that day.

Lou put this heartbreaking post on FB:
It's my eldest daughter's 12th birthday today….and it's been the hardest day. It's one of the two days each year I allow myself to stop pretending that I'm ok with the fact she is not here anymore. All I can think about is Ruth. How grown up and beautiful she would be? What would I have bought her for her birthday? Would she be trying (and failing!) to straighten those crazy curls? Would she be as funny and kind as I remember? Would she be enjoying her first year at St Bernard's? I am, to be honest, wallowing and almost wailing, because I can't do anything about any of it. I can't buy her a gift, make her a cake. All I do is pray to her and for her, buy myself some yellow roses and remember her, allow my heart to break all over again. I completely dissolved earlier after Mass when four of Ruth's school friends gave me some yellow flowers and fairy cakes. I didn't think anyone would even remember the day. Totally floored me. My amazing family and closest friends are as always holding me up. I thank God for them. Sorry…..normal service will resume tomorrow, promise xxxx and special happy birthdays to all the lovely people who share this day xxxx
We don't want to be maudlin, but how can we not remember the little girl who so lit up our lives for seven beautiful years? How can we forget her or fail to miss her with all our hearts?

This Christmas, Lou and I felt for the first time that we were gaining some perspective and starting to learn how to cope with what has happened to us. It has taken that long for us to even begin to face reality again. Most of the intervening stuff has been about coping as best as we can and clinging on to life somewhat desperately.

Most importantly I think, we have Mary who is a tremendous icon of Ruth (and gets called Ruth a lot by all of us) to pour out our love on. I found myself clinging to her a little more tightly on Sunday. Thank God for her, and what she means to us all; salvation, and that God can always turn sadness to joy.

Please pray for us that God might continue to heal our hearts.

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