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  • Writer's pictureelmarfleet

January: How Can I Tell You?

Updated: Jun 21, 2021


"I long to tell you

That I'm always thinking of you

I'm always thinking of you

But my words just blow away

Just blow away..."


I can't tell you how much I love you any more. My words may blow away but my memories and my love for you is still so strong. This month I chose photos of family times from past January, February and March to hang on a string to remember you and some of the things that we used to do at this time of year. I like to see how you looked, the clothes you wore and the things that happened in our world during these months in times past. Memories aren't restricted by a timeline and I can remember them all at once as parallel happy times.


"...I'm always walking with you

Always walking with you

But when I look and you're not there

Whoever I'm with I'm always, always talking to you

I'm always talking to you

And I'm sad that you can't hear

Sad that you can't hear..."


I'm reading The Invisible String by Patrice Karst to Sam. "As long as love is in your heart, the invisible string will always be there." The invisible string will stop my words from blowing away and connect me back with you. I want to feel that.


Sam says he likes the invisible string and I think about what it'll be like for him going back to school after this lockdown. He only had 2 terms in Nursery before the first lockdown in March 2020, and half a term in Reception because of my emergency operation which kept us away from home longer than we anticipated last summer, so I think about how he'll feel being apart from me. He was born into such a crazy world of possible and then absolute loss of his Daddy that I consider how separation will feel for him as he grows older. The book says, "When you're at school and you miss me, your love travels all the way along the String until I feel it tug on my heart." We love the illustrations, especially of the submarine and of all the hearts we find hidden on every page. We love it when the little boy, Jeremy quietly asks, "Can my String reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven?" and we discuss how old we think Uncle Brian was when he passed away. Daniel suggests he might have been only 42 too. I like that there's just a single parent telling the story and that the invisible string is an analogy for thought. I wonder... who is thinking of me as I write this?


"...I need to know you

Need to feel my arms around you

Feel my arms around you

Like a sea around a shore..."


I wish more than anything right now that I could feel my arms around you. I want to comfort you, to make you better and I feel useless that I couldn't and that I can no longer try. We did try so hard. Lying in your arms every night was my happy place and life is hard without a happy place to go to every night. I remind myself that it was your happy place too and neither of us wanted life to turn out like this. I'm still here, living our life for us both. I have double the love to give our boys, all the responsibility but double the love.


"...Each night and day I pray

And hope that I might find you

And hope that I might find you

Because hearts can do no more..."


Daniel has read My Brother's Ghost by Allan Ahlberg. A ghost feels like another form of an invisible string making sure our words don't simply blow away. That link brings comfort, as Frances the main character says, "Merely knowing he was present in the building had always helped me in the past. It was helping me now." The book is an easy read and for a bereaved family we see parallels in so many of the things Frances and her younger brother Harry with their pet dog Rufus, have to go through. Ahlberg writes as Frances, "Harry's life I think at that time had just curled up into a ball. He was somewhere inside, sitting it out." We get that. "I sat there with my hands in my lap. Then the shapes in the room dissolved, and I began to cry." We get that too. "Above all, though, I remember my feelings." My feelings. Look at the photos on that string with all the memories of January, February and March's past. I can't help but smile as I blink my tears away because I'm not just a casual spectator; I took those photos and I felt those moments. There's that comforting tug on my invisible string as I look at my real string of memories. The ending of My Brother's Ghost brings reassurance. There's a thread throughout of just working it out: "He's somewhere (that's the most you can say), has Rufus with him, and is working it out." We're just working it out, Tom, and we know that you're not there but we want to still feel that you are in some way.


"...It always ends up to one thing, honey

When I look and you're not there."

Yusuf/Cat Stevens






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