Well, I know it’s the start of a new year and all things are possible but I really don’t like the first week of January, it seems to me to be steeped in sadness.
The first week of January used to signal back to school (which I always loathed as I couldn’t think of any better way of spending my time than hanging out and mucking around with my children) and now it’s back to work and back to university (though thanks to a broken down boiler, child number one is still here), the taking down of decorations, the end of Christmas and the sudden realisation that, actually, it’s back to normality.
I know that I could see this as a new beginning, a fresh start and indeed, I do, but, that feeling of sadness wins out and never more so than today and, this today more than ever.
Today is my brother’s birthday and where once this tempered the end of Christmas and lifted our spirits with a celebration, now it just adds layers of heaviness and pain. My brother would have been 50 today. Wow, the thought has knocked me for six and what I now realise was just how young, at 33, he was when he died. I knew that he was young, of course, but as he was eight years older than me he never seemed all that young. But looking back now I feel crushed to think how much of his adult life was spent being ill and I feel AMAZED at how strong his spirit must have been, because what I remember most about my brother was how alive he was and, how well he lived. He packed in to his short life, more than many (with greater opportunity) will pack into their long lives. I love him and whilst he really did get on my nerves, I’m so tremendously glad that he was my brother.
We, my sister and I, don’t normally mark his birthday or the anniversary of his death, just a phone call to the parents and maybe, a text to each other to touch base, but there is no way on earth that he wouldn’t be celebrating reaching such a grand old age and it felt like this birthday could not be ignored.
My sister and I, our parents, and child number one, all met up for lunch at Villiers Terrace in Crouch End where we feasted on the most beautifully cooked belly of pork, drizzled with a mustard jus, with just right mash and salty, buttery greens, fish (with the most puffy/crispy batter) and chips and onglet cooked to rare with thrice cooked chips. With no room for dessert we had to just settle for coffee. We none of us mentioned the occasion, I think we’d have been in tears on the floor, but it was lovely to be able to be together.
As C and I were both driving we weren’t able to take advantage of the scrumptious cocktails they offer at Villiers but we did succumb to a couple of alcohol free ones.
So here, my beautiful, darling brother, is the drink I raised to you.
Make mine a Virgin mojito! I know, I know.
PS. C is allergic to garlic and to anything from the onion family that hasn’t been cooked and this does make eating out rather difficult. I have to say, the chefs at Villiers were really good about ensuring that she didn’t have to go without, making up a special batch of no-garlic mustard jus for her. What else, they seem to run a monthly supper club there that sounds kind of interesting and I may well have to check it out.