For James

On your birthday.

Since you died we have had two sports days, a piano recital, an assembly and Celeste’s birthday.

Flynn now likes salami and I know you would love this. Celeste has grown two inches. Every new inch more  painful because you are not here to see it. Celeste won her race at sports day and Flynn has won -star of the week- several times, the Head Teacher’s Award and the Easter Bonnet Award; you win a lot of stuff when your dad dies.

I know the embarrassment I would have felt being stood beside you at Celeste’s sports day as you boomed “come on Celeste”, so much louder than other parents. You did everything louder. I’ve had to stop including you in headspace in everything we do. Every time there is an assembly, a sports day. I wonder where you’d sit, what you would say, how loudly would you clap. There is no good to be got from this and it just makes the absence worse. I am famished by this empty air. And anyway *No sadness is greater than in misery to rehearse moments of joy.

I look for you everywhere. I look for you at festivals and parties, even when I’m walking home in the dark. I look for you on underground escalators, in passing cars and in supermarkets. Who took you and why won’t they give you back? I would offer them anything/everything. I would strike any deal with your captors.

Didn’t they know who they were taking? Wouldn’t someone else have done? Sated their greedy appetite. Someone ordinary or someone nobody would miss. Or was it because you were so good? Is this twisted cosmic punishment?

I would give them every limb, my sight, my hearing. Anything they demanded just to get you back. All I ask is that what is rightfully mine is returned to me.

Flynn has been asking me so many questions about heaven. Today I spied him in the kitchen. He was summoning SIRI on the ipad. He thinks SIRI has all the amswers. He asked it two questions:

  • What happens if you go up and up and up?
  • Where is my Daddy?

He then told me: There are 151 angels in heaven and asked if you were naked? He followed this with – I can’t wait to be one hundred because then I can be with Daddy in heaven.

Tom from next-door says that when his friend lost his wife, he used to put a candle in the window to guide her back to their house. I do this now every night but I never even get a sense of you but I do it every night all the same and when the times comes to blow it out I do so with the same mantra: * I repeat it till my tongue stiffens: I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you.

*Dante Alighieri/Wuthering Heights.


  1. Jeezooooz o. This is deeply heartbreaking. Yet so beautiful. You write so totally wonderously. Tonight was beautiful in it’s own way. So many people who wanted to celebrate that gorgeous jimmy jack. Love you, you brave brilliant being x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Odharna…I am in tears…you leave nothing unsaid & you say it so beautifully. As a writer myself I am in awe of how succinct & clever you are with words, at a time where I can only imagine most would be unable to muster more than a few rambled sentences. Brave girl. Brilliant girl. Brighter times ahead I wish for you. And in the meantime, keep writing…you are so good at it xxx

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  3. Orna, your words are so beautiful, so honest and so heartbreaking. Such strength and vulnerability in one. I think you are so brave for writing so deeply from within and I know how proud cinders and Tim are of you. Gumby would be so proud of you. I know these words will also help so many people too. Brave, wonderful girl. With love, zanna x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful writing, Odharna. Well done on doing this. I know it must be hard but what a wonderful thing to do to help dissipate your grief and help others too. Incredible grit. I’m proud to know you.

    When I shared it a friend of mine from school who I haven’t seen in years (Phil Jackson) commented that he used to work with James and that he was a lovely man. This blog is a marvellous testament to him, to you and to your family.

    Lots of love,

    Henry xx

    Liked by 1 person

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