My sons are eight years old today. They are having a party at Zone 3 this afternoon where they can shoot laser guns at their friends – something to suit boys.
Their birthdays are always tinged with sadness for us, their parents. Our daughter did not get to be eight years old; she didn’t even get to be seven. But she was always well organised and had already written out the invitations for her eighth birthday party. It was to be a pirates and princesses party.
I gave my sister the invitation that Clea had prepared for her cousins. In the invitation, Clea told her three male cousins, who are all older than her, that they could dress as pirates and that she would dress as a princess.
Clea always wanted to know when her birthday would be on a school day. Unfortunately, January in Australia is always the summer school holidays so never was always my answer. She did have a sixth birthday in the December before school finished for the year when she invited 10 little friends from Kindergarten and they over ran our house. We have a rule that birthday parties are only held every second year, so Clea’s next one was to be her eighth. I’m glad she had at least one party.
We were in London then travelling to Liverpool on Clea’s eighth birthday. Our friends in London had cooked Clea’s favourite meal the night before (stir fried tofu and noodles) and our friends in Liverpool had prepared cupcakes with pink icing for afternoon tea. I’m not sure Clea would have been happy about spending her eighth birthday in England as it would have clashed with her plans for a birthday party.
When we returned to Australia, I found that my sister had left the invitation at Clea’s grave. The rain and sun had made it difficult to read and it took me sometime to realise that it was the one Clea had written to her cousins. My sister wrote on the bottom that she was very sad that they could not celebrate Clea’s birthday with her and she wished Clea a happy eighth birthday. I still cry.
Maybe I should have left the invitation there to be destroyed by the weather but I took it home and I keep it safe for Clea.
My sons understand the bittersweet aspect of birthdays. They say they miss their sister on such days. Even last night, Jordi wanted to place memory beads in Clea’s memory jar – he said we should keep going until we ran out of memories. But then he began watching ‘Dr Who’ …
Happy birthday Jordi and Omar.