I try each year to think happy thoughts on the 23rd May. It was my friend, Rachel’s birthday and even though ten years on I still miss her terribly, I hate to have her birthday be a sad day in the calendar. Each year I battle against counting it as another important day we never got to share together and instead I try really hard to be grateful that she was born in the first place. I try to be thankful for the birthdays, parties and good days we did get, and mostly I try to be thankful for her; for her smile, her friendship and her way of making me laugh until our stomachs hurt. I try, but I don’t always succeed.
This 23rd May, went by and for the first time I felt a bit numb to it. I got up, went to work, came home, made tea, watched, telly, went to bed. I got through it without drama. I kept the sadness at bay but I did it by just blocking out the Rachel thoughts altogether.
But a couple of days later, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of the blue forget-me-nots and bluebells that were blooming in her garden. She had planted them after the miscarriage of her baby boy a few years ago. The flowers seemed such a positive and beautiful way to remember him that I felt inspired for a way I could mark my friend’s birthday month.
I brought Orla out in to the garden with four vintage dessert dishes, a jug of water and four floating candles. Together we picked a handful of forget-me-nots and arranged them in the dishes. I poured water in and placed a candle in the centre of each one.
They made a delicate and pretty candle display when clustered together. The little flowers are delicate and hopeful, looking like stars in the water.
That evening, and every evening since I have been lighting the candles. Having them flickering in a corner of the room has been a sweet and gentle act of remembrance and celebration of my never-forgotten friend. I might always struggle to manage my emotions on the 23rd May, but as long as these tiny flowers still spring up, I know I will always find a time during May when the sadness of loss will be quieted with the sweetness of memory.