Well Matt, last week we had the usual spate of February birthdays. Mine and dad's falling within 4 days of each other, and various friends on either side! Always a scramble going out and buying the presents for 6 different people! But it's fun. Only this year was very different. Your dad reached his 60th birthday on 8th February. It was another of those family times when you are so keenly missed. A blank space, which your presence used to occupy. It will always be so. You are frozen in time at the age of 30. One of your old friends reached 30 this week, on the same day as your dad. And I know as your brother approaches his 30th in a couple of years, he feels it keenly.
We walk above it on the surface, going on in our everyday lives, not always aware of the stream below. Until something triggers a memory of you, which has the ability to reduce us to tears, or to feel the familiar stab of pain. Only natural for someone who was so loved. Then the stream bubbles to the surface and sometimes overflows for awhile, until the pain recedes.
We wish you could've been there with us all.
It was nonetheless a good week.
Your dad declared it one of the best birthday's he had celebrated. Our friends certainly went to town! Some of them making a dinner the evening of the 9th, followed by a wonderfully crazy game of "Racing Grannies"! This was a Scalextric track with a difference! Instead of cars, we raced the grannies round and round! All this followed a glass of champagne to toast the birthday boy. Lots of merriment!!
I had a picture of you in my mind's eye, reduced to tears with laughing. Oh how we miss your laughter.
So your photo is sitting surrounded by cards, and the mantlepiece and hearth overflowing with them!
He had lots of thoughtful gifts and we ourselves spent the day in London, as a treat travelling First Class on the train.
His work colleagues gave him a presentation and a specially made cake.
So, as I write this thinking of you, we are still surrounded by all the cards and flowers, and next week we are going to visit one of your old friends, now a 7 hour plane trip away. I have not seen them since your Thanksgiving in September 2006. Your dad met him and his wife in Beirut, in 2009. But I could not go, as I was sorting out the sale of your grandad's home.
They have a little girl now. It will be poignant stepping off the plane to greet them. When your dad met him at Beirut airport, he was wearing the England shirt you had bought for him. Not bad for an American! But it was a special show of the affection and regard he has for you.
Well, time to go.
Thinking of you, love you, forever.