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Making it Through

It was Alexander’s birthday last Wednesday (August 28th). It was a beautiful day. To my surprise it wasn’t stressful, there weren’t any arguments, and everything was calm. The month leading up to Alexander’s birthday was a particularly stormy time, especially the few days leading to his birthday. I was agitated, anxious, angry, defeated and heart broken. I was basically not a very nice person. I found myself transported back to the days exactly one year ago and analysing all the things I would do now to change things. If only. Foresight must be a beautiful thing. The memories are still so fresh and sometimes I would allow myself to go further but at times it would be too much and I have to stop myself. I felt so raw and helpless.


On the day before his birthday, I made Alexander a cake. To be precise, I baked 4 chocolate cakes, stacked together and sandwiched with black cherry jam and then generously covered with chocolate butter icing in an attempt to hide the ridges from the individual layers and the crater I created when the top layer split. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest cake. After multiple failed attempts at covering the cake with “Alexander Blue” fondant icing, multiple phone calls to Tracey (my Fairy God Sister), sending Tim out to replenish the dried icing, a new rolling pin and over 3 kg of icing, and with Tim’s help, we manage to cover the brown tower that I created into a bright blue one. It certainly didn’t look anything like the online versions of the cake. I should probably mention here that I have never worked with icing before so perhaps it wasn’t the wisest. To be honest though, I was rather proud of this pleated blue cake which I then covered with grey dancing elephants around the sides each playing with a sunflower. Together with Tim, we made a 3D elephant to sit on top of the cake which was for Alexander. I started at 7 am and we finished at midnight and looking at the kitchen, it appeared that it wasn’t just the cake we had iced. I didn’t care- the feeling was great, and I had made a cake for my baby boy and probably for the first time, I felt like a normal mummy.


It was a busy morning on Alexander’s birthday: We published Alexander’s website then we sponsored an orphaned elephant called Nkala for Alexander’s birthday. Then we had flowers to pick up before meeting my parents near the church grounds where he is buried. We tidied the grave and laid down his toys and flowers and presented Alexander his cake.


After lunch, Tim and I spent the afternoon at Beale park, where Tim used to go when he was a child. We had often spoken about taking Alexander there and so it seemed like a natural choice. It was a short drive away from the grave which also meant that we could go back to the grave at the end of the day which was really nice. That evening, on the way back home, we dropped by our local support group. We meet every month and Tim and I have attended almost every month since October last year. This group is our sanctuary; a safe place and also a place where we can talk about our little ones. After spending an hour at our support group, we went home and finished Alexander’s birthday with a small fire in our garden. We wrote birthday messages to him, toasted marshmallows and read “Guess How Much I Love You?” We also lit a candle on his cake for him.


Last Sunday, we held a birthday BBQ for Alexander which we had invited close family and Tracey (she’s my Fairy God Sister after all) to. We had a helium filled elephant balloon for Alexander and elephant bunting over the front door. It was another beautiful, lovely day and I remembered feeling somehow calm and satisfied as I watched the giant orange elephant bobbing up and down above us all. Alexander is in everybody’s hearts, including all our friends who we didn’t invite to the BBQ. Alexander had touched so many people and he will always be here with us. Its not the 1st birthday I had imagined or was prepared for but it was a good day; on both days. I got through Alexander’s 1st birthday and I know now that I will get through others. I even managed to ice a cake and I know I can do that now (although rather badly)!


Guess how much we love you Alexander?




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1 Comment


Tracey McGrath
Tracey McGrath
Sep 08, 2019

Thank you so much for inviting me to alexanders birthday bbq... The cake was delicious and I am Very proud of how far you have both come this last year and feel privileged to be considered your Fairy God Sister xx 🐘💙

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