Today Daniel is eighteen… even though in all our minds he remains forever thirteen.
Today more than ever we try to imagine what changes the years would have brought for him? Looking at his friends we know he’d be taller, broader, stronger. In the eyes of the world, today he would become an adult. A world away from the young teenager with the beguiling eyes and mischievous smile we remember.
We wonder how would he have celebrated this significant birthday? What mayhem and madness would he have organised? What gifts would he have received?
While every day his parents and family wake up without him, today is particularly difficult. It’s a day which should be so full of joy, a milestone in parenting and life.
I remember so clearly this day eighteen years ago. I was shopping in the village and as I drove home I took a left turn towards my friend Daniel’s mum’s house, instead of a right towards my own. As I did so I chastised myself, knowing she was a few days overdue and possibly resting. Why did I want to risk disturbing her? Even as I pulled up outside her house I questioned whether I should go in.
But I did go in and there I discovered that only moments before she had begun to bleed heavily. Her husband was called and she had an emergency section almost immediately after arriving at the hospital.
Daniel had arrived the way he was to continue to live life, bringing mischief, fun and drama to those around him every day. A handsome boy, one of those ‘cheeky’ children everyone loves.
By nature I am a person who usually tries to see the positive in life. However today I don’t see any point in trying to do such a thing. For in reality there is nothing anyone can say today which will outweigh the hurt and grief his Mum, Dad, brother, sisters, family, godparents and friends feel.
Today is just a sh*t day, and it will be all day until it is over at midnight.
Tomorrow we can all pick ourselves up and look for the positives, but for today let us acknowledge the huge tragedy it was that Daniel got sick, the enormity of his loss for his parents and family and the sadness his family carry in their hearts every day, but especially today.
So Happy Birthday Daniel, you may not have had a long life, but you did leave a big mark on the hearts of those who loved you most and on so many others who came into contact with you.