I can actually remember quite a lot about my 10th birthday. I remember getting a chess set, as I’d asked for one as I was playing chess in school and wanted to get into the school team. I also remember kicking off because I’d been bought clothes that didn’t meet up to my branded expectations. But I remember that when I became 10 years old, I'd reached a milestone and I’d grown up (to a degree). I was now in double digits.
Today, my first born should reach that milestone. She should be looking at the presents that we would have bought her with an appreciative but critical stare, thinking they’re nice but not what she would have bought. She should be telling me how much she’s looking forward to her party with her friends later in the day and how excited she is to see her friends in school. And I should be looking back to when I first set eyes on her, 10 years before, on a cold, windy, wintry day in Liverpool. I should be looking forward to spending the day with my only daughter on her 10th birthday, but I’m not. Far from it.
This year, like in the previous years since we lost Jasmine, we won’t be at home. It seems like the only thing to do. The thought of sitting in the house, doing nothing on what could be a cold wet, miserable day doesn’t bear thinking about, so we’ve gone away. We go away to keep busy, to keep ourselves occupied with the boys.
We’ll take a cake with us and we’ll light candles for her brothers to blow out and we’ll probably go out and have a meal and mark Jasmine’s 10th birthday in the best way we can. But we’re only doing what we think is the right thing to do, especially for our boys. To them it’s still a day of celebration, a happy day. For us, it’s just another day that we just have to get through, somehow. We don’t look forward to it, we don’t get the butterflies of anticipation that you get when you plan something for someone you love. There’s just a huge sense of loss that I still haven’t got my head around and doubt I ever will.
I can remember holding Jasmine when she was born and promising her that I’d never let anything happen to her and that I’d protect her. I never thought for a second that I wouldn’t be able to live up to that promise and I’d end up having to bury my little girl before she reached the age of 7. As we, as a family, mark what would have been her tenth birthday and the fourth birthday without her, we still really don’t know what to do. There’s no lessons on how to deal with this and I don’t suppose it would matter even if there were. It’d be shit either way. You just do whatever you can to get through the day.
I miss my little girl more than words can ever say and not just on her birthday. But her birthday really brings into focus what we’ve lost. The day feels empty, when I should be reflecting on what was the happiest day of my life and when I can bring myself to admit it, still is.
I hope that on her 10th birthday, she can see how much her brothers have grown and how much they’re becoming fantastic young men. I hope she can see how much we’re doing in her name with the work that the charity is doing and I hope she knows how much I love her and how much she is missed every day and not just today.