Roots to Ground Us and Wings to Help Us Fly {Chapter 5}

It’s Christmas morning and we are all small

and snuggly

and excited

and wearing panda onesies early in the morning.

Mum and Dad rub sleep out of their eyes as we choose presents.

Dad twinkles and Mum yawns and we laugh and joke, gentle carols playing behind us.

Our little sister crawls and plays with our other little sister who moves her hair from her face with

her palm and grins a gap-toothed grin when it’s her turn.

Paper fills the room, and we shiver at the blast of cold air coming down chimney and Dad

promises to make a fire before dinner and


and twinkles

and twinkles.

It’s Mum’s turn and all eyes turn to her.

And Dad twinkles, camera in hand.

We don’t really understand.

Not really.

And we won’t until much later.

It’s a piece of wood with writing

and we wait for an explanation because Mum looks sad.

“I’m not sad,” she says,

“I’m happy…

I’m really, really happy.”


It hangs above our mantle, and we look at it whenever we need it.

When our friends come round.

When we play.

When we are gathered together.

When we find out why I am in hospital.

Before every appointment.

Dad doesn’t realise that, in one twinkling, thoughtful gift to his wife,

he has gifted the entire family something we will need in years to come.

Christmas passes and we carpe the diem out of life.

We enjoy every second and love each other and

bring Mum flowers

and butterflies

and ask Dad to take us on bike rides

and family walks

and to the

garden centre.

We go through birthdays and grow and then it’s Mother’s Day, which is filled with roses and letters and

home-made vases and laughter and people.

Father’s Day comes just as fast, and we write more letters and give him sweets and go to the beach

and eat ice-cream from the van and buy Worthing rock and stain our fingers with too much sugar

and our mouths with too many laughs.

There’s salt in our hair and maybe in our lungs and we have buckets full of shells and rocks that will

decorate our shelves for weeks before we find new things and begin to cram them all onto the

same shelf.

Summer is here.

We roll our trouser legs up and fill up the pool and chase dragonflies while getting

tans and applying too much sunscreen.

We collect pretty leaves and shoot makeshift arrows at pretend enemies.

We make more paper that will probably fail but it’s the experience that counts.

We cut our knees in the branches of our tree house

and scrape our hands on the ground when we fall over.

We sing a little too loudly in the front garden and play tennis and football and run races and set up

our own Olympics.

I win at archery, and we all stumble our way through the races and throwing javelins and

afterwards we gulp too much water because it’s too hot and we did too much.

We go swimming early in the morning and race in the fast lane and splash and have fun.

These memories keep me going.

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