As I enter the house it hits me like a wave, silence. Closing the door behind me there is no need for my usual plea of ‘Please take off your shoes’ or ‘who left their bag in the door way?’ There is nothing, just me. My girls are with their other family. Thoughts flash through my mind of them eating tea, having a bath, a bed time story and cuddles. But it is not with me. I try to push them away but they persist, reminding me that someone else is in my place. My girls are making memories with another family, memories I will never be a part of. I want to cling to my daughters, never let them go, but it is too late, they are already gone.
Walking into the kitchen I see the usual jobs to do, the dishwasher to empty, washing to go in the drier, but there is no need to rush today. I could sit down with a cup of tea, read a book, maybe watch some TV. There is no panic for tea, no complaining of hungry tummies and tired cries. The jobs could wait. I feel lost, my direction unclear. I simply stand, listening to the quiet, hearing only the soft hum of the fridge and the rain drops gently tapping on the window.
Then I catch sight of the little pink ribbons. They are tied to the cupboard doors. The memory of IK, the day before, carefully cutting the delicate pieces of fabric and fastening them to the handles floods through me. ‘So you remember me whilst I’m with Daddy’ she had told me. ‘I could never forget you’ I had replied. The she hugged my so tightly, as if she was trying to cram a weeks worth of cuddles into one precious moment. I held her closely, breathing in the warmth of her little body and the smell of her strawberry shampoo. Then she was gone, back to her task of leaving me little reminders. Looking at them now I can see her smile and my heart aches for her.
I shift my mind into doing mode. Experience has taught me to keep busy, make the most of this quiet time, not to dwell. The images of their other family threaten to surface again so I start to tidy away; crayons, dolls, a dinosaur all in the wrong place. Socks, jumpers and hairbrushes discarded earlier in the rush to leave. Picking up a pile of books a scrap of the pink ribbon falls away, too small to have been tied up, it gently floats to the floor. It was probably saved for a picture or a treasure box, perhaps to put in a dolls hair. It future purpose would have been important to her, or so I tell myself. I will keep this precious piece safe till she returns, hoping, as always the other family will the do same with her.