I first notice it in December, when the birthdays begin. Little children turning three. We were pregnant at the same time, their mamas and I. I thought our children would grow up together; I remember waiting to hear their names and hoping none would share a name with our baby. I remember laughing as one was given a name we had seriously considered and I was so glad we had chosen a different one. I didn't realise just how sacred her name would become.
I notice it again at Christmas, in the glaring absence of one precious little girl. There's silence where her laughter should be and her present being opened by her brother...not her.
It hits once more on New Years Eve as I remember the joy and hope of NYE 2012. We welcomed in the year on the beach, laughing with friends and trying to find someone with matches so we could light our sparklers. 2013 was a year filled with hope and anticipation. Until it wasn't.
And then the end of January draws near. The heaviness that has been lurking since December gets stronger. Darker. Suffocating-er. I didn't realise grief could be so physical.
I cannot breathe.
Because, next week.
Next week is the Australia Day public holiday. The day we found out she had died. The date changes but the memories don't.
Next week is her Heaven Day, when our sweet baby girl arrived in Heaven. My sad day. When the heaviness is as heavy as heavy can be.
Next week is her birthday. The day I felt a rush of love I had never felt before but also a sorrow I had never felt before. The day I caught her as she was born and smiled because she was indeed a she, just as I had suspected. Next week we'll picnic on the beach and write her name in the sand. Because the day she entered our lives is worth celebrating.
Next week she'd be three.