annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Sam's 40th

I wish I could work out how to add photos again, though I guess that just laziness - if I'm calling myself a writer I should be able to do it in words, but meh is what I say to that.

It's coming round to Sam's birthday and the anniversary of her death. I don't know why it should all become so much more painful then, she's no more gone then than she was last month and will be next month, but maybe it's in the nature of grief to rise and fall. There's only ten days between her birthday and the anniversary of her death, which feels like some kind of blessing. It gives us space to differentiate between the two. Last year we had a cake on her birthday and tried to have a picnic in the park, but there was one of those godawful ferocious winds that fucked it up and blew our words away before they were heard. But our intent was to celebrate her on her birthday and we did, laughing at the bloody wind and the thwarting of our plans. Instead we collected bits and pieces from round about -leaves, stones, twigs, fir cones, nice litter - I found some good sparkly bits - and Daughter made a mandala out of them, laid in the grass. I think I'd like to continue this - to celebrate her on her birthday and to have a think about what we'll do on the anniversary. Last year that was shit - I'd broken my ankle but didn't realise, and was hobbling about - ach, I don't even want to think about it. We just got narky with each other, me and the other two kids. We'll do it differently this year.

As I've been thinking about that I've been remembering other birthdays, especially Sam's 40th. She was in the care home by then, had survived being in the hospice but was pretty badly compromised physically. I remember it as N still being the manager, but I may be wrong about that. Anyway, let's assume it was N, who loved Sammie like a sister and agreed with me that 40 was a birthday to make something of. We came up with all sorts of suggestions which she ran past Sam, but all of them met with a blank look or even turning her head away. A visit to the city, no. Theatre? No. I can't remember them all but in desperation N suggested the pub and Sam's head shot right round and she fixed her gaze on N with some serious intent. OK, right, the pub is it? Yes. Which one? In the end it was bloody Wetherspoons she wanted to go to, noisy, rowdy, run by the sort of bloke you don't want to give your money to, but fuck it, it's her birthday, her choice.

Her keyworker, M, had been a hairdresser at one point and she did Sam's hair how she always used to have it, quite fair with highlights, and someone did her make up and put her in her best frock and pushed her in her chair round to the pub. It was heaving in there, but to be fair, people cleared an area for us to sit together, me, Sam, N the manager, a few old friends who'd known Sam all her life, and some bloke off the night staff that I'd never met but who was fond of Sam. There was a stream of them, staff from the care home, stopping by to raise a glass to Sam. Most of them brought a card and a present and sat next to her for a bit, holding her hand. She was slumped in the chair as usual, but there was a glint in her eye. I bought an Archer's and lemonade which had been her drink and got a straw and a napkin. She was able to suck a bit up the straw though not really swallow, but she got a taste.

I found it all really hard and painful and wanted to scream and scream and MAKE some fucker give me my daughter back, give Sam her life back, but I didn't.

Although I can feel that when I remember it, I'm so glad we did that, that she had a night in Spoons amidst all the pissheads and the racket, the music and laughing, just a bit of normal instead of the fucking care home day in, day out. Well, it wasn't but it seemed like it.

Where I'm doing this month of gratitude, today I chose one of the pictures of her. It's taken in a restaurant - Jamie Oliver's Italian, in fact, and she's looking straight at the camera, at me taking the photo and she has the loveliest smile that gives me strength to carry on. And I am grateful for that, so grateful.

11:14 p.m. - 05.08.21


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