Sunday, 21 August 2016

It's Not My Party, But Can I Cry If I Want To?

Standing, alone, in a family home, celebrating a child's birthday.  You see the black and white family photos on the wall. The collage. The smiles, the warmth and the memories made. You stand there and your heart sinks.

Your heart sinks and the unrealistic notion that it is somehow getting smaller and smaller crosses your mind.  Its size is diminishing just like the package which is rotated from one little hand to the next in a game of pass-the-parcel.  The layers are peeled away and with them a small consolation prize appears.  It is the reward of chocolate or a small toy, but for your heart, it may be, perhaps, the start of a brand new day, waking up healthy...or it could be the prize of knowing that this day could be the day when you adopt a new lust for life. But the parcel continues to rotate until nothing is left.  You sit there, your mind dwindling into deep, dark thoughts of self-pity and shame. 

Everyone around you knows your situation.  They know that your child is the one whose parents are no longer together.  You wear the pain in the extra 15kgs/33lb/2.36st you've managed to collect along the way; food and alcohol are now the cruel substitutes to happiness and mental freedom. Your clothes stretch to accommodate the new frame just like the over-stretched balloons which decorate the living room doors.

Memories of what once was fade one-by-one.  Their fast-fading existence resembled by a growing lack of available seats in a fast-paced game of musical chairs.  With each new round the support in the shape of a chair becomes more and more scarce.  One is removed at a time and options slowly run out before your very eyes.  All the chairs are now gone and the winner sits perched on his throne. That's not you, your seat, the one supporting your new-found frame, went months ago. You see the life lived. You feel the family spirit around you and you mourn at the fact that this was never you even though the perception was always there.

You mourn your efforts.  Each past effort is extinguished just like a candle on the cake.  Each one blown out, one stick of colourful wax at a time.  Each one expires, the little flames no longer burn and you stand there, forgetting that the celebration is not for you and you realise that you are the one making all the wishes.  You repeat the words in your mind on rotation...I wish...I wish...I wish. And when your mind returns to the room, to the moment, you see that she is there.  The most beautiful creation in your opinion.  Your beautiful child. Your articulate, quirky, loving six-year-old...and you find yourself wishing once again, repeating some sort of mantra...

"I wish...I wish that she continues to be happy."

"I wish that she will be ok at the end of all of this."
"I wish that as she grows she will understand why."

...and when the wishes in your mind cease, you hear someone shoutout with jest, "world peace!"  Laughter follows and we start to sing happy birthday in unison, rounding it all off with a few hip hip hoorays! 

But in the end it's you who leaves with the prize.  You leave with her, your smiling daughter. You've won. You've won new memories of her smile, her excitement, the excitement of the party bag and the accolade of pass-the-parcel champion.  You've won because you got to experience that.  This was your day and you were present.  You look forward to the drive home because you know there will be memories shared of the day. You'll laugh, you'll joke and then when it's all done, you'll sing along with Taylor Swift at the top of your lungs - one small voice and one broken one.


1 comment

  1. I like the ending. Children can ground us and force us to focus on the moment. Being in the moment with them is definitely something to appreciate.


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