Tomorrow (Tuesday), my daughter will have been dead for 300 weeks.
Clea would be 12 ½ now. She would be in Year 7 at Amaroo School. She would be tall probably already taller than me. She would be Clea.
Each day, I tell Clea that I love her and that I miss her. I say good morning to her as I open the blinds of her window to let the sun shine into her room. Each evening, I say goodnight, sleep tight, I love you to her photographs. Each night, I sleep with her photograph inside my pillow case and with one of her pillows underneath mine. And as I am closing my eyes to go to sleep, I whisper goodnight to her wherever she may be.
I wish on stars as often as I can but my wishes never come true. She is never inside with Papa or tucked up warmly in her bed. She is never with her brothers. She is never anywhere. She will never be anywhere.
I count the weeks. I am still unsure how long I will count for but I will know when to stop. I write to Clea every week telling her what is happening in our lives and what she is missing. We visit the cemetery every Sunday with fresh flowers from the garden (and the neighbour’s garden) scattering the old petals on her grave. I rarely leave the house without her pink headband wrapped around my left wrist and a locket around my neck containing her photographs. I talk to her as I drive or as I’m walking along trying to catch a glimpse of her beside me out of the corner of my eye.
I do not flick through the photo albums or scan the images on my computer. I try very hard to visualise Clea alive; I get fleeting glimpses of her long legs and her smiling face but I also see her lifeless body in the morgue.
Every so often I have to explain to people that I have three children not only two boys. I have a daughter. I will always have a daughter.
I know that if I cycle too fast at the gym then I will want to cry; any sort of adrenaline rush makes me want to cry. My body remembers the stress and adrenaline from that day.
The pain is different 300 weeks later. It is not the stress and shock of the first few years without her. It is not the twisting of my fingers and the pounding of my hands against my skin. It is not the keening and rocking as I sat crying on her bed night after night. It is not my hair falling out or the loss of saliva in my mouth. It is still a constant aching and yearning for what will never be; for a future our family will never have.
I wake in the night with this deep fear in my stomach that I have done something wrong or that I haven’t done something or that I have forgotten to do something. I can’t quite pin down exactly what I fear but I can feel it in the pit of my stomach and sometimes it rises to my throat and I have to hold down the panic. I don’t trust my own judgement as I judged that day that we would be fine on the beach. Each day is a challenge for me.
I cry on and off. A word, a phrase, an image, a thought. All of them make me cry. I am lonely for Clea.
My heart broke 300 weeks again and it will not repair itself. I did not know that life could be so sad and lonely. I miss her so much. I don’t think it will ever matter how much time has passed. For the rest of my life, I will have to live without her. That thought makes me cry.