We shared a birthday, Jacob and I. The 14th of June. He would have been 32 today. And every year, every year it seems stranger that some people’s lives go on and some end so abruptly. It’s completely random, floating on the globe with our sense of entitlement to a good 80+ years, head in the sand as to the impermanence of being, ignoring our total lack of control.
Jacob was a friend of ours from university. We also worked together after graduating, and I imagined keeping in touch with him for many more years as we moved on and did different things. He died in a freak accident while living in London. It was a complete shock. He was one of those rare people who seem innately good and kind, and it is still hard to believe he’s dead and not just continuing to live his life in London. Though, he might have come home by now. He might have been a dad by now – he would have been a really great dad. Our kids could have been friends. He and my husband could have been dad buddies.
D’s middle name is Jacob. I felt like it was a blessing to pass on that name, a protective spell for a generous soul.
June is also the month my colleague Lecretia passed away, two years ago, can’t believe it’s been two years already. She was so witty and so clever. Formidable, but one of the most gracious people I’ve ever encountered. An unquestionably remarkable woman, who faced death from a brain tumour with a strength of character and a fierce love for life that has left a lasting impression on me and I suspect everyone who knew her.
Today I turned 30 and Jacob should have turned 30 before me, but he died at 27.
The baby who was conceived the same month Lecretia died is walking and talking. His molars are coming through, and on this clear June day he was crying as we arrived at the park. I lifted him out of the buggy and said “life is pain, Highness”, thinking of how baffling it must be for the baby, suddenly experiencing pain with no context for what comes next.
Later, his dad (who took the day off work for my birthday, lovely love), took him to get some Bonjela from the pharmacy, and my older one seized the chance for one-on-one time and asked to have a snuggle swing. A snuggle swing is when we swing together – we did it once and it was lovely, and now it’s a thing we do. He climbed onto my knee on the swing, cuddling up, and we swung gently together for a while. He snuggled so tight that I told him it was almost like he was trying to get back in my tummy, and I rubbed his back the way I used to rub the belly full of baby. I was singing to him when I realised his breathing had slowed and he’d fallen asleep. We sat for a while, then I carried him home – just a hundred metres down the road – and lay him in my bed. First, I took a photo of us on the swing, every time he is asleep in my arms now I want to remember it, and today especially, remember the bright blue winter day and the trip to the park.
A sunny sky in winter. A blessing, unexpected, and brief. Life’s like that.