Rosie’s incredible reach

Today I had the pride and privilege of attending a friend’s wedding. He and I have known each other for a long time, mainly because I’ve been great friends with one of his brothers for a large part of my life. In recent years Yoav and I have come to know each other very well, mainly through work. He is a ridiculously talented man with far-reaching skills. In recent weeks he has helped me to think about getting this blog published as a book – it being one of Rosie’s final wishes.

Anyway today was a happy day. I’ll admit that I was nervous about attending the wedding alone. I’ve never been particularly comfortable in big groups and Rosie was always my support. I felt her absence acutely today. But today I also felt her sitting right by my side. Inevitably she came up in conversation. I didn’t know who at the wedding knew about Rosie and who didn’t, but that didn’t matter. At times I felt tearful and sad but I drove on. Making small talk, doing what Rosie would have done. Being sociable and trying to mingle.

Now, Yoav and his beautiful wife, Wessen, didn’t know Rosie all that well but once again her touch seems to have made an impression; and yes she inspired. Quite amazingly they both refered to a passage in one of Rosie’s last blogs. This is the line they quoted: “People take happiness for granted but they shouldn’t, because it is so fragile, so fleeting, so easily defeated.  Happiness is like a delicate flower and needs to be nurtured.  Today I am going to water that flower.” Wow.

She really had a way with words; Rosie was very, very special and she seems to have touched so, so many people.

Elliot

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My hats off to all single parents

A statement of the bleeding obvious: The past weeks have been a challenging time. For the children the utter devastation, at such a tender age, wrought by the loss of their mummy is practically unimaginable to me; and I say that as someone who lost his dad aged 15. For me, the loss of my best friend, my guardian angel, my everything is simply unbelievable. It still hasn’t sunk in that Rosie is no longer here and that she’s not coming back. The emotional impact is constant and will be with us forever.

On a practical level I’ve had to get used to being a single dad. It’s probably not as colossal to deal with as it could have been. Rosie and I have a phenomenally close family, all of whom have rallied round to help me and the children. We have a wonderful nanny without whom I have no idea how the children would get out of the house in the morning. The children receive tremendous emotional support from all of them. But at the end of the day when everyone has left our home it’s just Joey, Tali and me.

A few weeks ago Natalie, Joseph and I went away to Dorset. I booked the holiday soon after Rosie died, mainly because I was encouraged to plan a summer holiday. I’ve never been a holiday person – a break from work is enough for me and in years gone by (before Rosie) that might just been a week of lazing around at home, reading or watching TV.

But Rosie lived for holidays. She raised the task of planning one to an art form. No sooner had the last holiday finished than the next one was being planned…and sometimes it was sooner than that. And in her capable and willing hands it was something which I was more than happy to leave her to look after.

Having to actively think and plan a holiday for the first time in many years was a bit daunting. As it happened I needn’t have felt so overwhelmed. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that Rosie had already done the hard work. Last October we went on a wonderful family holiday to Suffolk. The hotel was tailor-made for families like ours. Young children who don’t have a volume control, middle class parents who haven’t the energy for slumming it and perfectly good food. That hotel is part of a small chain and Rosie had earlier this year talked about its sister hotel, Moonfleet Manor. That had stuck with me and that’s where I booked.

So mid-summer arrived and the three of us drove South. Natalie had insisted that she wanted our first family holiday to be just her, me and Joey. The holiday was a success and greatly enjoyed by the children. For me it was a challenge. Anyone who has children will know that they don’t always want to do the same thing at the same time. And this was most certainly true for my two. If Tali wanted to swim then Joey certainly didn’t. If Joey wanted to play skittles (which he did several times every single day) then Tali wanted to do absolutely anything else. I tried persuading them to take turns, but that didn’t really fly. At the end of five nights away I was frankly happy to be getting home, for a rest.

I know the children enjoyed themselves, they said as much.  But I was more tired at the end of the holiday than at the start. Of course this will get easier with time, at least I hope it will.  Apart from the challenge of two strong-willed children it simply brought home how much I miss being with Ro. Yes, it would have been easier with Rosie being there, for sure. But at the end of the day when we all went to bed (at about the same time) I didn’t have Rosie to talk to. And I still don’t. And that is the hardest thing about losing her. Her absence is a constant reminder of what I’ve lost and what the children have lost.

Elliot

Sad and angry…with myself

While I’ve been mulling on my next blog I had a flashback to my birthday last year. Rosie bought me a piece of baking equipment and I was typically ungrateful when she gave it to me, because I didn’t think I’d use it. I’m not going to try to justify my behaviour. With her gone I remembered what a gittish thing that was to do. 

Today I met with a lovely literary agent who was giving me advice on getting Rosie’s blog published as a book. She recounted Rosie’s post on 29th July 2014. My birthday. And now I’ve just re-read it. What a colossal arse I was. I hope I said that at the time to Rosie when I read the blog. I’ve not felt angry until now. Now I’m spitting feathers. What a shitty thing to do. I’m angry with myself. 

There is nothing I can do to take it back and I know Rosie would have known that I meant no harm by it. But she was fragile. She was only a few days into the worst experience of her life and the man she should have been able to turn to for support failed her. 

Rosie, I’m sorry. 

Elliot

An insight to the thoughts of a seven year old

Last night my children stayed with Rosie’s parents, Mémé and Papa. That’s what we call them. It wasn’t an easy evening. Natalie and Joseph have had a very active week having spent five days at tennis camp. Joey was supposed to be attending for two hours each day but decided that he wanted to stay for the whole day! Natalie kicked up a fuss about going at all but enjoyed it in the end.

Anyway, Friday night at the end of a long week was obviously the time when they were going to create. And they did. Rosie and I have, for the last year or so as a special treat, allowed Natalie to stay up beyond her bedtime on a Friday night. It’s a lovely thing to do to share the shabbat meal with us and it shows she’s growing up. She also enjoys being treated differently to Joey once a week. But last night they were both shattered and as usually happens with Tali she threw an almighty strop and refused to go to sleep. After much cajoling she did eventually pass out.

I went home, leaving them at the Kalmans. On my return this morning I was greeted by two little angels and a poem that Talil had written. Here it is.

TALI, JOEY And DAD

They are one small family with three big hearts.

They work in a team to keep their lives running,

Running as fast as they can.

They work so hard to keep each other alive.

They love each other dearly and hang on.

BY TALI

xxx

I’m now poetry expert but I really think she’s trying to say something here. Tali is most definitely communicating through the written word more than the spoken one. I take heart from the fact, and hope as time goes by she’ll be able to talk about Rosie and what she means to her.

Elliot

Out of the mouths of babes

This week was my birthday. For some it would have been seen as a significant one. For me it was really just another day. I’ve never been into birthdays, not least my own. Rosie loved birthdays. She had been planning her own 40th birthday party (on 15th October 2016) way before she died. A few days ago Natalie and I found the list of people she was intending to invite. Rosie had long since told me what the party was going to be. Fittingly for my beautiful wife two of her favourite things were to figure large in the evening: sushi and champagne. Rosie was one classy lady.

Her love of birthdays extended to all of those around her, mine included. Birthday mornings in our house, probably much like any other house, were raucous affairs. The many cards and presents she had secreted in various hiding places around our bedroom would be whipped out and neatly piled on the bed. Then the children (irrespective of whose birthday it was) would rip all the paper off.

This year was a different affair. There was no elaborate sequence of presents from Rosie nor any card. She used to delight in finding just the right card for me, and she always wrote the absolutely perfect message. Even though she was married to a miserable curmudgeon she was always able to get the right reaction from me. No, this year I had a handful of cards, and presents from family and the children (admittedly still ripped open by the Natalie and Joseph). I’m an impossible person to buy for, mainly because I never want anything. But again, somehow, Rosie always had the knack of buying me the perfect gift.

The children seem to have inherited that knack. As well as a “Best Dad in the World” mug they had each produced a beautiful painting for me (photos of them below). Natalie’s showed her, Joey and me standing beneath a rainbow with a small rose to the right of the picture. When I asked Tali why she hadn’t painted mummy, she simply said “Because she’s not here”. Fair enough I suppose.

Now I’m no psychologist but what Joey painted was mind-blowing. Again you can see it below, but I’ll repeat his description of it to me. “It’s Tali with a rain cloud over her head, me (Joey) with a rainbow over me, you (that’ll be me) with the sun shining on you, and mummy with her hand over Tali’s head to protect her. And there’s a thunderstorm over all of us”. How does a four-year old paint that with such clarity of meaning?

As an aside, as I sat in synagogue this morning I was reading the English translation of Eshet Chayil, a song that every Jewish husband is supposed to sing to his wife at the beginning of Shabbat. I’d sung it a few times to Rosie over the years, especially on significant occasions. Reading the English it seemed to take on a greater significance. The lines which stood out were:

“A woman of strength, who can find? Her worth is far beyond pearls. Her husband’s heart trusts in her…she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life…Her children rise and call her happy; her husband also praises her. Many women have excelled, but you surpass them all”.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Elliot

Tali's birthday painting
Tali’s birthday painting
Joey's birthday painting
Joey’s birthday painting