Autumn is such a strange time of year in our family. The children just love it. The nights drawing in (my youngest exclaims with wonder every day ‘It berry berry dark!’). Halloween, Bonfire Night, late nights, good fun, silly costumes and the long run up to Christmas. It’s full of festivities. In lots of ways me and my husband love it for all the same reasons, but that’s totally overshadowed by the horror of 2011.
That Autumn my husband and his brother lost their mum. My father in law lost his wife. Me and my sister in law lost our mother in law. My son lost his grandma.
The world lost an exceptionally kind, fun loving, loyal and genuinely wonderful woman.
My mother in law knew she was losing her battle with cancer, but that didn’t mean she let it beat her.
She went out. She walked, even when she could barely manage it. She enjoyed the sea air. She laughed. She bossed us around. She told us she loved us. She ate breakfast at 1am – because – why the hell not? She had opened the Christmas biscuits by Bonfire Night. She ordered a sofa.
When she’d gone, too soon, we felt so cheated. She wouldn’t have liked that much. Even in the face of such tragedy, she felt lucky; to have known what was going to happen; to spend many, many precious hours as a family. Visit places she loved with those she loved the most. Watch fireworks with the only grandchild she would get to meet. To set the world to rights. To say goodbye.
I don’t think she would ever want us to feel cheated.
Just four weeks later we had our second child, our first daughter. In a time of such despair, I worried about everything. Her, us, me, my husband, my father in law, my brother in law, my son, my soon-to-be-bride sister in law, even my poor mum who’d left her home and my dad for a few days to help me out and stayed for 5 weeks. Ultimately, having a new baby in the face of this was the most testing time my husband and I have faced.
I continue to feel conflicted about what was always such a beautiful time of year, but try and see it through the eyes of my children and my wonderful mum in law, who was so happy to see the leaves change, just once more. And happy to spend it with us. We only wish that in 2011, winter didn’t have to arrive so soon.