December: the month of birthday letters: letters that, this year, I cannot write. Now You Are 9. Now You Are 71. Now You Are 25. The letters that will go unread because they have gone unwritten. Why can’t I find the words? I can’t even seem to find them in my head or my heart, let alone on paper. Come on, H, think: what do you want to say to your favourite family members on their birthdays? Niece: I am frightened for your future – I am sorry for the state of the country – I want to protect you from everything but I know I can’t – I adore you. Dad: I can’t believe you actually died – hope it’s sunny where you are – please come back. Brother: I am so proud of the man you have become – I wish you would talk more about Dad – I hope that your quarter-life crisis isn’t as chaotic and permanent as mine – did I mention how proud I am of you? But these words seem pointless for some reason. I can’t turn them into poetry, though they are heavy with sadness and fear and worry. Pride and love exist in these thoughts too, but again I cannot turn these concepts into a letter worthy of the recipient, not this year. I don’t know why. I guess I am tired. I guess I don’t have faith in my ability to vocalise or poetise (?) these huge ideas of mine; they are too big for my poor little brain. I guess I don’t believe that the words to express my love for these people even exist. Or they do, but I am not smart enough to find them. Even if these letters materialised, the addressees would never read them anyway: niece, too young, dad, too dead, brother, too… elsewhere. So there will be no letters this year. They’d understand. Yes, if they were even aware that I was fretting so much about writing them a birthday letter they’d never read, they’d understand. They’d understand that my brain is tired and my heart is broken and I just cannot find the words.