One of my friends told me during shiva that the first year and a day would be the hardest. By then most tasks that could have been done with Rosie will have passed by without her. But in my mind I was already thinking about my children’s bar and batmitzvahs, their first days at secondary school, first days at universities, graduations, weddings. But I know what my friend meant.
Even during the darkest, most painful days of her fight against Genghis, Rosie still had the strength and foresight to write a number of letters for a later day. At the end of 2014, just a few days after the start of her second round of chemo she produced a classic piece of writing. This was a letter for the future. Way into the future; or at least that was the hope. The email she attached the letter to was entitled, “To be tucked away for safekeeping”. She was making sure that the future care of our children, without her involvement, was put in place now so that she could expend her energy on fighting the cancer.
And to me she wrote three beautiful letters. One way to look at them is as love letters. From one lover to another. And I’m happy to read them in that way. But more importantly and far more characteristic of Rosie they are roadmaps for the future. What she wanted me to do in the immediate aftermath of her death, for the years to come, some important messages for the children, passwords and account details and a plan for all of her most important possessions.
Now, I’m sitting here today, in full health (I hope) with a lifetime ahead of me contemplating a similar task for the children. But I simply can’t bring myself to do it. My reticence is borne out of complete exhaustion, my continued disbelief that Ro is no longer here and an unwillingness to tackle something which I must do for the future. It’s something I’ll have to return to.
But back to the topic at hand. Today was a day of firsts. Today was Tali’s first school play without mummy there. Rosie was the perfect mother. I can’t remember a play, parents evening, school fair or other school milestone that she didn’t attend. No matter how busy with work or how ill with her treatment she would always turn up to support our daughter. Tali would have made her proud. Even with a twisted ankle our little girl carried on and performed her heart out. (Check out her performance below). It was very, very difficult for Rosie’s mum and dad, and my sister and me. As we left the school we collectively shed a number of tears. We didn’t need to say anything. We wept for Rosie, not being there, not able to support her little baby.
And the other first was Joey’s first visit to school, ahead of his start in September. This was really hard. Joey is not a clingy boy. In fact in a group of children he’s usually the first to leave his mum and dad. Not today. Today he really didn’t want me to go. Even after I left him in the classroom he still insisted that one of the teachers came to find me. This raises my parenting dilemma for now and the future. Was his unwillingness to be left just nervousness about being in a new environment, with new people? Or was this separation anxiety connected to the death of his mummy? I suppose we’ll never really know but it does add an extra layer of complexity to being a single parent. I don’t think there’s a simple answer. But of course if you think otherwise do tell…please.