It’s hard to believe that it is only just over two months ago that we took Edward and Arthur for their open day at Powell’s School. Edward loved it, but Arthur was a little more circumspect. He was so happy at Mrs Berry’s, the wonderful nursery that all of our children have attended, and had made it absolutely clear that he wanted to stay there, in his words, “forever”. So it was been with some trepidation that we have been waiting for Arthur’ first day at school to arrive, especially without his twin brother around to keep him company.
The tension started building last week when Clare and I attended the pre-term parents’ meeting with Arthur’s teacher. Our meeting was at 2.30pm, but we had also been due to meet Edward’s teacher earlier at 2pm and although this had been cancelled it was still heartbreaking. I won’t mention any names because I haven’t asked permission and it’s not fair to do so without consent but I know that some of the teachers read this blog and I want them to know how wonderful we think they are. Quite a few came to Edward’s funeral but due to the emotion of the day I didn’t see or thank them and I hope that they will see this and that it makes up for my oversight.
The dominant feature of the meeting with Arthur’s teacher was tears, and lots of them, from all of us. But, it made everything so much easier for us to be able to see their empathy with our pain and it would have been awful had it been clinical, efficient and unemotional. I have always been very fond of the school and it will now have a place in our hearts forever. We saw several members of staff whilst we were there, all of whom hugged us and shared our tears. Most importantly we could feel how genuine it was. The hardest moment came when we popped in to see Edward’s teacher whose class he was so looking forward to being in and I know from meeting her that he would have thought she was wonderful. She handed over Edward’s file which included photos taken of him during the open day, some of his drawings and the notes that Clare had lovingly written about the special care and attention he would have needed. I was not expecting it and it was so, so hard. Too hard. Afterwards, Clare and I went to sit in the playground to wait for Alice to finish for the day and watch some of the children in the playground. There were plenty more tears.
By the time Monday morning arrived, Arthur had demonstrated that we did not need to be worried about him. He had practiced putting on his uniform the night before and in the morning was up bright and early, demolished his porridge and got changed way before his sister. He proudly paraded his new uniform in the kitchen in front of John and Jenny and even turned to Alice and told her not to worry because he could now look after her at school. He chatted happily all the way during the rainy 5 minute walk and pretty much waltzed into his class. Much of the credit for this must go to Mrs Berry and her fantastic team, who have done such a wonderful job of preparing our children for school. Thank you, all of you – we are going to miss you.
Watching Arthur was lovely but very emotional. I was ok until one of my friends gave me a hug, the kind that has that tiny little extra squeeze of care at the end, and it completely set me off. I stood back in the school yard as Clare took Arthur in and had a good cry. Thankfully it was raining so my face was already wet and I think I may have got away with most of it!
As I write, both Alice and Arthur are now back home and the day has been a great success. I don’t want to call it bittersweet, because it doesn’t do justice to the immense pride that we felt for all three of our children. Bitter is just the wrong word. Edward might not have been there physically, but he was, is and always will be a part of this family and he has played an enormous role in making us the family we are. Yes, there was plenty of sadness and the now ever so familiar pain of simply missing him, but it was encompassed within the great gift of love that Edward has bestowed upon us.
Love is Edward’s legacy, and we will do everything we can to keep it safe in our hands.