Well we survived another Christmas and New Year. We were dreading them this year more than last year as we knew how tough they would be. In the event, contrary to the year before it wasn’t as bad as expected. Not because it was any easier going through Christmas without Oscar. It wasn’t even one tiny bit easier. It was just the same as last year. But the feeling was not a new feeling. We knew what Christmas without Oscar felt like. So when it came we recognised it. As usual Holly and Barney helped too. Holly because she was so very excited and Barney, too young to even grasp present opening, but helpful just by being him.
We decided to use January to catch our breathe. I had big plans of spring cleaning our lives whilst planning out the year for the charity in the back of my mind. In actual fact we were shattered and our normally healthy household has been a bit under the weather and sleep deprived. So the life spring clean hasn’t happened but we do have a plan for the charity for 2016.
But first to look back. I can’t believe that we are in 2016 already. I cannot believe we have survived a whole calendar year. Life is so strange. Ours is so irrevocably altered, our perspective forever changed and yet the world keeps spinning around. And I keep watching other people getting on with living their lives. Time is passing by so fast. I have realised more and more that the grief that we carry is David’s and mine. Our life is not Holly and Barney’s life. If we don’t mess up they will grow up understanding that they are 2 of 3 but not damaged or scarred by being 2 of 3. Living in the present the impact of having Oscar taken away from her, Holly, feels monumental but now I realise that twenty years down the line it won’t feel like that because it is all that she knows. Although I am certain that the people that Holly and Barney become and the choices that they will make will be completely different as a result of having had Oscar in their lives.
Life wise I would say that we are still in existing / surviving mode. I wouldn’t say that I am living. But in the same breathe as saying that it’s true that Holly has had an amazing year. In twelve months she has grown from a toddler into a teenager – about 10 cm taller and so much wiser and more perceptive about the world around her than her four year old self. And of course Barney has arrived. He seems to be completely amused by us all. God knows what he thinks of us. But he is a very calm, laid back guy and, at eight months old, is developing a great sense of fun, so he is good for our souls.
Charity wise it is a different story. This time last year we were still awaiting our charitable status. We received that in February 2015 and since that time have already been able to achieve so much. Just after B was born we had the Blenheim Palace Triathlon – a squad of 50 people, including DC, competing for the charity and raising more than £60,000. We published our first cookbook in December and that has raised £10,500 so far. We delivered vein finders to the John Radcliffe Hospital in December and already are getting some great feedback as to the benefit of that investment. We have more than £75,000 altogether towards the £100,000 goal for the new procedures unit and will meet the new Director at the JR in the next few weeks to firm up plans. We are building our network in paediatrics so that we can credibly identify what to go after once the procedures unit is delivered and we have got 80 people already signed up to do the Blenheim Triathlon this year – only 20 spaces left for the 2016 squad. We are learning so much every week about fundraising, about the media, about running a charity in general, about what amazing innovations could be coming down the line for Children’s Healthcare. In terms of having an opportunity to make a difference and be worthwhile it is a great time for Thinking of Oscar.
But back to the present it is Oscar’s birthday next week on Saturday February 6th. He should be three. His peer group are all gearing up to start preschool. I imagine he would have looked a little cutie in his grey shorts and red sweatshirt. Holly said today that if Oscar was alive she would be helping him to settle in. She would have been literally bursting with pride, head held so high, to have been able to walk him to preschool on his first day.
The headstone for Oscar’s grave is almost complete and will likely be installed by the end of next week. Watching it being crafted by Bernard, a most incredibly talented stonemason has been a surreal experience. It is carved out of a limestone which has lots of fossils in it. I really like that you can see the fossils randomly across the finished piece because it makes it flawed. And to say that this life is flawed is an understatement so I like the symbolism of it. On the reverse of the stone is a verse that we used at Oscar’s Thanksgiving. The words mean more today even than they did then.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
It is as though Oscar chose the words for us.
Oscar guides everything that we do, informs every aspect of our lives. He is our driving force. I miss him with every breathe that I take and even if I am not thinking about him for a moment I’ll be doing something that is because of him.