Dream a little dream of meDaddy is hugging me. He is big and warm, and I feel like a little girl again. ‘Daddy you are better again. And they told me you were ill,’ - I say, inhaling his familiar smell and enjoying the sense of safety I always feel when with him. ‘No darling, I’m not better, I have cancer and I will die’ - he says and his eyes are sad now.
‘No, you can’t die, daddy, it will break my heart.’ - I cling to him and my body shatters with sobs…
‘Are you ok honey?’ - I hear as I am jolted out of my dream and into Mr Chateauneuf’s arms. He is gently stroking me as I try to get my breathing under control.
‘You were dreaming again.’ - it wasn't a question. I nodded, not trusting my voice yet.
I have been dreaming every night since I found out that daddy had passed away. Most nights, I had been able to get back to sleep but not that night. My mind was racing but the grief was suffocating me, causing physical pain.
Ever since I came back from the funeral, I felt I couldn't grieve properly. From the moment I arrived home and heard the television with another football something-or-other feature on, I realised nothing had changed for anybody other than me. Nobody knew him, I couldn't talk to anybody, there was no connection to home, no link to daddy.
So that night, as soon as I heard Mr Chateauneuf’s steady breathing, I quietly slipped out of the bed. I needed some air and some space, so I headed to my favourite place ever - to my writing cabin at the bottom of the garden.
It was freezing cold there and I flicked the little heater on. As it started blowing out the hot air, I climbed into my Papasan chair and wrapped a blanket around me. The tears on my cheeks dried and I was able to breathe again.
I looked around me. It was the haven Mr Chateauneaf built with so much love for me. I chose the colour on the walls, the furniture came from my Whyteleafe flat and the chair I was snuggled in was a present from Mr Chateauneuf. My cabin felt cosy, it was home.
Minutes were ticking by and I finally managed to relax. My eyes kept scanning the walls, stopping on the pieces I loved - the miniature daisy mirrors above my desk, the candle holder reading ‘Love’ I got for Valentines day from my man, lever arch folder I deco patched, until I stopped on the photos of mum that were arranged on the shelf. It made me think - memories.
Within minutes, I dug out my treasure box. It was full of old photographs, mum’s notebooks and other memorabilia. Carefully I picked up a stack of albums that looked all too familiar. At the bottom of the box, there was a brown envelope, it was bulging with photos. As I pulled on a protruding photo, it caused a chain reaction and all the others spilt onto the floor.
They were all old pictures, in black and white, ones I ripped out of family albums. And although the photos were monochrome, the kaleidoscope of memories they brought up was full of colour.
My parents young and healthy, laughing; my brothers and I sledging; our family house; me age two in my first fur coat wrapped in so many layers I was barely able to move; photos of mum and dad in their early 20s - young and carefree; my school years and very questionable fashion sense…
As I was looking through them I couldn't help but smile and somehow feel warmer. I could see an unmistakable resemblance on my childhood photos - I had mum’s hair and dad’s eyes. As I grew older I realised I inherited my mum’s temper and dad’s glass half full attitude. Both of my parents were in my DNA, a part of them lived on.
And as much as I was hurting and grieving, I found some comfort in knowing that their legacy lived on, in me. They both taught and passed on to me everything they were meant to.
I knew there would be many more dreams in the months to come, a lot more grieving to do. But that night, in my cabin at the bottom of the garden, I put something to rest.