Now You Are Seven

Happy Birthday, Cookie!

I am so very proud and privileged to be your auntie. You impress and amaze me every day with your bonkers stories, your boundless energy, your fearlessness, your infinite creativity, your inquisitivity, your talent for entertaining us all with your singing and dancing, and your limitless love for your little brother and friends and family, no matter how near or far they may be. You grow more beautiful by the minute.

I have written a special birthday card for you which is all about you and your amazingness. And I write you a letter like this one every year on your birthday but you don’t know that – you’ll get these letters when you’re 18, when you’re a grown-up, when things will make more sense to you. Here are the things that I want to tell you right now but can’t. I feel like I should explain me to you because, if I were you, I’d be feeling very confused. So here we go:

Thank you for being good when I’m feeling sad or panicked or angry or tired. Thank you for giving me cuddles when I have tears in my eyes, and for helping me to do things when my hands are too shaky, and for taking your brother to a different room to play quietly when I need a moment to calm myself down.

It’s not fair that you have to see me like this. Some days I am too sick to see you. When those days happen, my heart breaks because I miss you lots. You and your little brother are often the only human beings on the whole planet that I really want to see. You two always cheer me up in your own funny ways. It’s hard for me to be sad when you two are so full of happiness. It’s hard to justify wanting to die staying in bed all day when you two are so full of life.

I’m sorry that I can’t do all of the things that we want to do. I wish I could take you to the cinema but I might have a meltdown or hurt someone or hurt myself. I’d never hurt you, of course, but it’s still a better idea for us to watch movies at home instead of in a dark room with lots of strangers. I wish I could take you on holiday, but we can’t go too far away from home in case I get sick and need to hand you over to your granny or somebody else who can look after you better. I’m sorry that I got scared in Hamleys with you and I’m sorry that I needed to get us out of the aquarium very quickly that time. I’m sorry I can’t run around the park with you and I’m sorry I act a bit silly whenever we need to go to the shops. Remember it’s just that my head is poorly inside, everything else about me is like you.

On this evening, seven years ago, I had laid out a lethal combination of tablets on my desk, in four neat rows in a particular pattern a magical sleeping medicine next to a bottle of vodka (which is a disgusting drink for grown-ups) and a glass of water. Everything was sorted and I was ready to have a big sleep.

You were due to be born on the 25th, a miracle Christmas baby. I knew that I had to go away before you arrived so that I’d never meet you and you’d never meet me, so that all I’d be to you was “the aunt that died before I was born”, just some random woman you’d seen in photographs that you had no memory of or attachment to. So I decided that I was going to sleep on December 7th. Lucky number 7. I was writing a letter to my dad (your amazing granddad) to tell him that I was going to go to sleep for a very long time when I got a call to tell me that your mummy was in labour (that little baby You was ready to come out).

I felt such a rush of love and excitement in my belly, my heart was beating so fast, and as I saw my smile in the mirror I realised that this was the first time I’d felt a good, positive feeling in months and months and months. I didn’t think that I could ever feel a good, positive feeling again.

I put my shoes and coat on to rush down to the hospital, the same hospital where I was born too. I swept the magical sleeping medicine off my desk, into a drawer. I took a swig of vodka (for courage, because I was frightened about staying awake and frightened that you might not like me) and put that in the drawer too. Then off I went to meet you, my gorgeous little munchkin. I was too excited to have my big sleep. When I saw you for the first time, all teeny and squidgy, I forgot about wanting to have my big sleep – for a little while after you arrived, I didn’t even feel tired.

Bubs, my life went bad when I was 7 and I haven’t been a happy person since then. You have a magnificent soul and are growing up to be an extraordinary young lady. That’s what people said about me when I was 7, too, but you don’t have to turn out like me. You are your own person. And so many people love you. I really, really, really hope that you’ll still be as happy as you are now when you are 17 or 77 or even 107, or maybe even 207!!

I don’t know how much I believe in fate and angels and all that, but you came here on this day seven years ago to save me. I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life. Other than, of course, the fact that I love you.

Do enjoy being 7, Cookie. It only lasts a year.
I LOVE YOU! More than all the jellyfish in the sea and witches in the sky ♡♡♡
xx Auntie L.

P.S. Your granddad B. told me in my dreams that he’s super proud of you, especially of your reading and writing and violin. And even though he’s having a big sleep in the sky, he’s always keeping an eye on you and sending you lots of kisses! ♡

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