It has been a strange and different summer but not without smiles.
We have spent much of the school holidays visiting friends and family with only a few days back at home in London. We felt rather cooped up in Mercers Road, having had to lead a life of virtual isolation during Miranda’s illness in order to shield from coronavirus. When the restrictions eased, we thought it important to get out and breathe different air, see people for the first time since Miranda died, and to start creating some new and positive memories of 2020.
We have talked a lot about Miranda as a family. Her presence, warmth and perspectives pervade our lives: the conversations we had in the car on the way to visits; her Spotify DJing; the bathtimes, bedtimes and stories; the colours; the sparkles and jokes; and the cuddles, hugs and kisses. We have had a lot of “firsts” without her and each one is a signal of what has changed for us.
I am so pleased that the children are having a fun summer. There have been laughs, jokes, naughtiness and good old-fashioned fun among the tears and sadness. Humphrey and Hester have talked to their friends about how Mummy died and how they are feeling. Even Heath, at only 3, seems to have understood what’s happened; he’s using the right language. He is keen to have me there every day at bathtime and bedtimes so that the “rituals” feel like they used to, but he’s continued to be bubbly and social with friends and strangers alike – he engaged a custodian at Blenheim Palace in a long conversation about kayaking (!) the other day while a queue of bemused tourists built up behind us. As a family we are laughing and crying together and I think Miranda would be proud of us.
We visited Miranda’s grave together for the first time since the funeral last week. It was wonderful. I wasn’t sure how the children would react, but they were excited to go. Humphrey skipped through the field to lead us to the grave, saying it felt familiar and welcoming to be back. Hester asked me about the Helen Dunmore poem I had read at the funeral, and we chatted about it, what it meant, and why I had chosen it. And Heath asked about his felt car (glued to Miranda’s coffin) and talked about the flowers we had scattered. We left some flowers from our back garden on the grave and talked about what words we might write on Miranda’s memorial stone (which is still in the planning stage). I think we will enjoy visiting again and again.
We have one more week of travels before we centre ourselves back at home before the start of term. Heath will start at Grafton School pre-school on 7 September, so for one year we’ll have all three children going to the same place. It is hard to believe how things change.
I am sorry I haven’t been a good correspondent to many of you who have sent messages and cards over the summer. I have appreciated all of them! And thank you so much for registering for news on this website, and especially to those of you who have already submitted stories. They are exactly what I hoped for. Please do take the plunge if you are considering writing something. It means a great deal.
Much love to you all