Once again it’s the 24th July. Another year has passed since you were taken away from us, and it’s another year in which life moves on.
Three years ago, it was just another normal day (apart from the fact that it was my birthday). I’d woken up early and was waiting for you to finally get up so that I could open my cards and presents. I’d even moaned at you because you didn’t wish me a happy birthday straight away (and when I’d picked you up on it, you just moaned back, saying that you’d just woke up). Mum and I spent the morning sunbathing by the pool whilst you went off to the youth club that was on the campsite. I’m so grateful that you did. You took part in a scavenger hunt type thing, and someone had taken photos so that we were able to have some of you in your last few hours alive. After lunch, we’d decided to go and have a lazy afternoon by the beach. I was in a grump as I’d wanted to sit right by the lifeguards so that I could look at the attractive ones (isn’t it ironic that a few minutes later, they would be helping us look for you and I didn’t care once what they looked like). I’d started reading my book and I could see you and Dad down in the waves. The next thing I know is that Dad has run up to Mum and I saying that that he couldn’t see you. The next few hours passed in a blur. We never gave up hoping, despite being practical minded. We know that if you had resurfaced after however long without oxygen that you’d have sustained permanent damage but we just prayed for a miracle. Our miracle was that you were recovered, that we weren’t just left without you, never knowing whether you’d died or not.
So much has happened since that day on the beach 3 years ago, and it’s often surreal to think that you’d be 19 years, 6 months (and 18 days) old. I was 19 years old when it all happened, and it’s hard to believe that you’d be the age I was when you died.
It’s hard to imagine what you’d be like now. I still imagine you as that quirky, kind 16 year old who wouldn’t have thought about moving away from home for uni. You wanted to do primary school teaching, and I can still visualise you doing that if you were here, but who knows? In three years, you could have changed your mind and decided that you wanted to teach English in Spain (although, I think this would have been highly unlikely. Your Spanish left a lot to be desired) or an engineer. You’d have probably quite liked Aidan’s job, and you might have considered doing that. I can imagine you working for a transport company, but I’m not sure whethere you’d have liked the busyness and chaos of central London.
I’ve been working as a teaching assistant in a primary school for the last year and I’ve really enjoyed it. I don’t think I have the patience to work as a teacher in primary education and I’m looking forward to starting my teacher training (in secondary education – geography!) in September. I’m going to the University of Birmingham and although I know it’s going to be hard work, I’m following my dream and I’m determined to try my hardest to accomplish everything I can. Admittedly, my stress levels are likely to go through the roof, but I know what I want to achieve. I feel sad though that you aren’t able to follow your dreams; that your chance, your opportunity, was taken away.
Alex, who you have never met (but I know that you two would have gotten along) is working for Mum and Dad’s company in IT but soon he’ll be transferring to a different part of the company and it’s closer to home (I’ll get on to that bit in a minute). We got married in March (on Easter Monday). You’d have liked the wedding favours. They were mini eggs and other chocolate eggs. I put one of the flowers from my bouquet in the Garden of Remembrance at church, and then Mum went back the next day with my whole bouquet. It felt strange that you weren’t there, and that someone who had been a huge part of my life for 16 years wasn’t at my wedding to the man I love. You should have been there, sitting with the family, laughing at the embarrassing things that Dad was saying. We had to live at home for a 3 months, but a month ago today (24th June) we finally moved into our new house. It has 3 toilets which I’m sure you’d have found amusing! Especially as there are only the two of us living there. It’d have been nice if you could have been able to visit the house. It’s near Wolverhampton and it’s a new build. It’s a lot of hard work at the moment, especially for Alex as he has to do all the manual labour (I wouldn’t even know how to put up a picture frame let alone put furniture together or sort the garden out) but it’s slowly getting sorted.
Aidan and Beth also got married this year in May. That was sad, knowing that you should have been up there at the side of him, being his ‘moral support’ for the day, but Aidan’s best man Brekan was lovely. You would be proud that your brother has a best friend who could take the role. You weren’t forgotten though, and I know that you’d have been watching both weddings take place.
Alex and I are going to Devon next week to visit Uncle Gary. My future sister-in-law, Nicole (she is marrying Alex’s brother) is also from Devon and she’s mentioned Quaywest Waterpark. Alex is looking forward to going, and I know you would want to go if you could. It’s an outdoor waterpark and has 8 different waterslides. It might not quite be like Aqualandia but I think waterparks abroad have an advantage in the weather. Thinking about water parks though, there is apparently going to be one built in Coventry. I heard it on the radio so it’ll be interesting to see if that is actually going to happen.
I’m still planning on scrapbooking all my holidays and exciting days out (within reason). If it’s a holiday and/or I’m travelling the world then I plan on putting photos into my scrapbook. If it’s a day out that you’d have enjoyed or I’m doing in memory of you, then I’ll scrapbook that too. But random days out that I have with Alex, for no purpose really apart from having a day out with Alex, they don’t seem like the days I should document.
I really want to travel all over still. I don’t think anything will really happen next year as Alex and I will probably still be finding our feet with what we can and can’t afford but I hope to be able to visit some places that I haven’t before. I know that there are places in Britain that I haven’t done, and those places are more accessible to us, but there are so many places in the world that I want to visit. And of course, I need to visit Florida so I can swim with dolphins (and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).
Oh, talking of scrapbooking and Harry Potter – Mum and I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tours again in May. We went because No. 4 Privet Drive was open and you could go inside. Apparently, if you were there at the right time, letters would shoot out and you could catch one to take home. We missed this. We went to the shop after, thinking that we would be able to buy a Hogwarts letter but the lady in the shop told me to ask Customer Services. The Customer Services lady was so nice, and she explained that they came out of a door on the set, but she gave me one. I GOT A HOGWARTS LETTER! (And okay, so it’s addressed to Mr. H. Potter but I think that Dumbledore and McGonagall must have got a little confused when writing to me. It’s also just an envelope but that really isn’t the point. I GOT MY HOGWARTS LETTER!) This time, were able to see the Hogwarts Express. Oh my life, it was so magical. You walk down a corridor, and then you turn the corner and it’s there. I just don’t know how to describe it. It was absolutely amazing and I wish you could have experienced it. It felt just like Harry Potter, and I almost felt like I was going to be boarding the train and going to Hogwarts. I miss our random chats about Harry Potter. There’s a new book out soon because J.K. Rowling wrote a play. It’s called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it’s set 19 years later (so I’m guessing some time after the epilogue of Deathly Hallows). I think that the book is going to be in play form, which I’ll find harder to read, but I definitely want to see how it all turns out. I don’t think that Harry runs off with Luna in it though.
In September, I’ll be doing the walk that Mum and Aidan did last year. I think Dad is doing it too. We’re walking 26.2 miles around London, and I’m doing it to raise money for the RNLI. I know that it wasn’t the RNLI who spent their time looking for you in France for 3 days, but it’s a way of giving something back to people who do a similar job, here in the UK. I’ll never forget what the French coastguards did for us, in terms of searching for you. Spending hours tirelessly going into the sea, sending search helicopters and looking further down the coast, despite the possibility that you could have been carried down to the Atlantic coast of Spain. I want to give something back to those that work, saving lives at sea, and by raising money for the RNLI, I feel like I am doing just that.
There’s so much more that has happened, but a lot of things are just banal or mundane. They’re not things that you store up to write in a letter. You might tell people at the time, but otherwise they lack the excitement that make them of interest to other people at a later date. It’s annoying that I can’t just text you, out of the blue, to tell you some of these things (like I do with Alex or Mum) but I realise that you probably know it all anyway.
Despite so much hurt and grieving coming from losing you in Messanges 3 years ago, so much good has come from it too. I don’t know whether I’d have been able to turn my life around if I hadn’t realised that life is too short to waste it being unhappy or stuck in a rut. I think that is valid though for all of us. Mum, Dad, Aidan and me. We’re all doing things with our lives, and some of the things are probably things we wouldn’t have even considered 3 years ago. I also know, that although we will never ever forget you, you wouldn’t want us to be sitting here in a permanent state of grieving, never moving on. You are no longer suffering any of the things that life throws at us everyday, and you would be proud of all us. Your kind, loving, patient nature was a blessing to all those who ever met you, and it is an inspiration to me (and possibly others). You will always be my little brother, and everyday, I strive to be a better person, to be someone like you. Nobody I know ever had a bad word to say about you, and that is something that is so inspiring to me.
Lots of love,