Almost birthday boys

Today Connor Sparrowhawk should have been 21.  His mother, Sara Ryan, has written very movingly in her blog of her plans to spend the day wrapped in the comfort of family, friends and a very large memorial quilt.  But whatever you do and however you dress it up, it’s not quite the same as the day they would have liked to have planned for Connor, I’m sure.

This is not the first time I’ve written about 21st birthdays and “almost birthday boys”.  Last June I wrote a blog on the day that should have been another young man’s birthday, another “almost birthday boy”, Thomas Rawnsley

But in the end I can really only speak for and about my own son, Nico.  I don’t pretend to speak for Connor or for Thomas or anyone else I write about.  I don’t speak for their parents either.  I support them, but they speak for themselves and I read what they write and I listen to their words.  I find strength, truth and power in what they say.  Their compassion and kindness amazes me.

The list of “Almost Birthday boys (and birthday girls)” seems to grow ever, ever longer.  No more candles and no more cakes.  No more careful choosing of presents, shopping for that great bargain version of something they will love, no more excited tearing off of wrapping paper. No more.

We find our own ways to get through the birthdays, the special days, the dreaded days.  Sometimes we succeed quite well but the sadness at the heart of it all remains – how could it be otherwise?

We have started a new tradition of writing on helium balloons and letting them off to fly high up into the sky.  I know so strongly how much Nico would love this that I almost wish we’d also done it when he was here.

We did it once with him and it was for my mother.  He was hilarious.  He insisted that he held the balloon’s string but when the moment came he refused to let go.  Almost crying with laughter, despite all our beseeching, Nico refused to let his grandmother’s balloon fly until our begging had turned into laughter too.  Then he let her go and watched, smiling, as her balloon lifted up, up into the sky.  Of course you did Nico, you understood you needed to make us smile that day.  Of course you did my son, you always understood the untold story at the heart of things.

Your child’s birthday is one of the days when you show how much you value them.  For the “almost birthday boys” not only are there now no presents to buy and wrap but now all the parents of these young people are facing the ordeal of fighting a long, long fight for justice.

We are fighting for people to care about what has been done to our children and join us in being shocked and horrified.  Why aren’t they as upset as we are?  Why has our fighting for justice after the death of our children made people so uncomfortable?  Why are they irritated that we even still insist on mentioning them so frequently? Why do so many people view our children as forgettable, disposable and unnecessary?

When was it decided that our children had no value?

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2 thoughts on “Almost birthday boys

  1. Rosi, such a poignant post, beautifully written again, thank you. It has never, and will never, be decided that our children have no value. Those who cannot see their worth are the ones who are missing out terribly. I love your newly created birthday balloon tradition. We love helium balloons and setting them off from our garden too – it’s something we’ve done with Toby – dozens at a time, using a shop-bought helium canister to blow them up – since he was very small. There is something magical about watching them float away, becoming an ever smaller dot, until you just can’t see them anymore. Next time we do it, I’ll let one off especially for Nico. xxx

  2. Oh thank you so much Yvonne! We have also now bought a helium canister so we can do it ourselves. We decided at Nico’s last birthday that we had to find a way to celebrate his life and the joy that it brought us, to find a little nugget of joy and in misery and also to not let everything be only about his death – but also about celebrating his life!

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