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What makes you smile? – Sunday January 1st 2017

A while back I asked Holly what made her smile. The conversation was so interesting I scribbled it down straight away and I’ve just found the piece of paper which I wrote it down on:

“Riding my bike.”

“Getting presents.”

“Being with my family…”

“.. The most important one is Oscar. Thinking about Oscar makes me smile.”

“Also, sweets. Some parents might think that they are really bad for you but when I brush my teeth I feel happy.”

“And watching TV makes me smile because we are lucky because not everybody does.”

“Raising money makes me smile. Because I think about children and how lucky I am to never usually go to hospital and that’s what I would like to say.”

As usual the insight of a 6 year old nails it. But I’m sat here asking myself the same question. Back at work this year after a period of maternity leave with Barney has left little time for much else, most importantly the charity and life is trickier as a result. Two and a half years down the line after Oscar’s death things have in some respects become more difficult not less. Because life for everybody else moves on. At the beginning those close to you and nearby stop in their tracks with the shock of what has happened. But every day that passes brings different challenges and events in their own lives as well as numerous global catastrophes and so people’s thoughts naturally turn to other matters. Most people around us have no reference point as to what it is like living in these shoes. And they shouldn’t. But the passing of time increases the isolation. I noticed it happen part way through the year and so made a conscious effort to reconnect with people. By doing that I realised that people do still care and they do remember. A friend of ours commented last night that, comforting as it would be for David and I to understand the extent of the ripples that Thinking of Oscar, and Oscar himself, have cast, we should just trust that we will never know how many people he has touched, but that it is more than we imagine.

I’ve not been in the habit of setting New Year’s resolutions in my life, but we have become more reflective since Oscar’s death. So for me I’m going to take a leaf out of Holly’s book for 2017. I’m going to try really hard to spend less time thinking. Our grief over not having Oscar in our lives has not gotten easier but has become part of the fabric of who we are. This is it. We’ve just got used to living with it. But we do smile and experience happiness and we smiled from very early on. We had worked out that we could do that if we lived in the present. So instead of worrying about where this road is going, I’m going to try harder to experience more of the scenery along the way. All of the things that make Holly smile are things that she is doing or being. In 2017 I’m going to ride my bike more, go running in the rain, be kind, spend time on meaningful relationships – much more time, have adventures, continue to savour the small things and ensure I carve out time for the big things – in my case that’s Thinking of Oscar.

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