Imagine (verb): Form a mental image or concept of
I read somewhere that C. S. Lewis wrote his Narnia books for his goddaughter and I absolutely adored that idea. I’ve stored it in my head under the heading “godparent goals” – it’s something I would like to do one day, write for my godchildren, though I will probably find – like C. S. Lewis – that children grow more quickly than finished books. (Cynical thought: But if I never have my own children to raise, as has been the case so far, this is something I will actually have time for).
As it’s Easter Monday, it’s a time where I do very much think of our godchildren and our missing children and, with our 9th wedding anniversary approaching (incidentally, a reading from C.S.Lewis formed part of our Church wedding ceremony), it seems a fitting time to share what I have written.
Though barely started and completely unfinished, I have an idea for a story. It is a parallel universe, one where our daughter Summer lived. As I doubt I will ever find the courage to write to Summer, this is probably the next best thing.
My last counsellor suggested that I find “new babies” (a new hobby while we can’t have actual babies), so this is what I’ve come up with. You will see that it is still a draft, that I struggle with incorporating speech, into text. That I’m not a natural at writing in third person and that nothing really happens in the story. Regardless, Summer living and dying, has reminded me how much I enjoy writing, so this has been written for her and for my godchildren. I hope that you all love these children, as much as I do.
N.B. Though I have ten living nieces and nephews who I equally adore, please note that I have only included the godchildren of friends in this story today: Emily, Harry and Freddie. In my eyes, all the children will always have a missing playmate. Perhaps they too, will grow to see Summer in their stories.
PART FOUR: SUMMER
9th March 2036
“What if it rains tonight?”
Freddie had only been back in the UK for two weeks and yet, he found himself asking a quintessentially English question on a quintessentially English topic. His mum, who was downstairs, drinking as much tea as she could, now that she was back ‘home’ on English soil, would have been proud.
“It won’t” said Summer confidently. “It never rains on my birthday”.
“How is that even possible, when your birthday is in the winter? It could even snow”.
Harry was right of course, he was a logical boy, ready for all eventualities.
Emily sighed. “Oh come on, Harry! It’s not that cold, aren’t we now in spring?”
As a Lancashire lass she’d yet again fallen into the trap of discussing the weather and now braced herself for some “north of the wall” type jokes, a line from some old show that her parents liked. It was one of Harry’s favourite go-to retro references, which was weird, as Harry’s parents were the only ones never to have watched the show in its ‘heyday’ as they called it (who even talked like that? Parents, it seemed).
“You of all people should feel it! You’re a northerner Em and winter is coming!”
There it was, good old reliable Harry. She thought he’d set himself up rather nicely for a “Jon Snow” joke (she still needed to google who he was), but he clearly preferred to reiterate his point about the season. Well played Harry, well played. Emily truly marvelled at how his brain worked.
“Trust me, it’s freezing here. It would technically be autumn if we were back in Australia”.
Freddie was careful to pronounce it AUST-RAIL-EE-AH, instead of his native “straya”. He was already feeling a little homesick, and though these guys were his friends, he couldn’t quite face the gentle ribbing he’d get for his accent. He’d leave Emily to bear the brunt of that today. To be fair, she did have the best accent of all though and Freddie’s mum was quite taken with her. Or perhaps it was her little habit of jumping up and asking “who wants a brew?” every ten to fifteen minutes. She was rather endearing.
“And yet, here I am, named Summer!”
“Yeah, that’s pretty weird. Of all the seasons, which we’ve collectively covered, that one really doesn’t make sense”.
Though he’d known her forever, Harry had pondered it previously, the illogical nature of naming a child Summer in an entirely different season. It seemed so unlike her parents, but he was too polite to ever raise it with them, even though they were his godparents.
“It must have been her sunny disposition” smiled Emily.
“No, it definitely wasn’t that!”
All four laughed at Freddie’s joke. He was always quick off the beat, like that. Their laughter comforted him, he was starting to feel more and more at home with this group again.
“Haha, real funny, Freddo (!) It was actually due to something a midwife said. Apparently there was a bizarre heatwave the week I was born. My mum apologised about being a sweaty mess and the midwife said “it’s not just you dear, it’s so hot in here, it’s like an Indian summer!” And then out I popped, as if on cue”
“So you were born interrupting their conversation?” jibed Freddie
“Like you’re interrupting mine?” Summer hit right back.
Ever the pacifier, Emily took her cue: “Ahh I get it, and your mum’s Indian. It is a nice name though, everyone loves Summer”
“The person or the season? I’m only partial to one”.
Summer lent over and gave Freddie a punch for that. She’d clearly decided that she wasn’t going to win in a verbal jabbing.
While Freddie pretended to nurse his bruised arm, Harry, who had actually been paying attention to the tale, pursued another trail of thought:
“You know, that still doesn’t make any sense. An Indian Summer is actually the warm period during September to November in the UK, not in March”
“Seriously Harry, is there anything you don’t know?” Freddie asked, genuinely a tad in awe.
“Oh great, I’m named as a mistake, thanks Harry!” said Summer, rolling her eyes.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and gave Summer his trademark sheepish smile. She returned hers: a big toothy grin to reassure him that she was only joking. Summer’s often been told that she’s the most wanted child ever to walk the planet and even as child number three, Harry feels the same about himself too.
“I wonder if your dad will make that joke tonight, Sum? Uncle Jamie and my dad have been working on this speech for weeks”.
Summer rolled her eyes, Emily was right. Her dad James and uncle Matt had been on the phone chuckling about this forever. She’d missed all their usual football club chat, that was a conversation she would have much preferred to listen to.
“I’m more worried about what my mum will say”.
All three nodded in agreement. Their Aunty Anj loved a party, who else would throw their daughter a sweet 16? It was still so, well, American.
But Summer knew why and she didn’t mind, it’s because after two miscarriages, her parents were “third time lucky” with her. It had become their family mantra. (Summer often wondered whether her parents would still like that mantra if she were to use it for her upcoming exams! And did this mean they’d be cool with funding three driving tests? Maybe). So her parents celebrated everything, every little milestone. It was fun, mostly. Especially when she got to hang out with her circle of friends, like this.
“Well the best thing about your mum’s parties, is that my mum buys me new stuff to wear to them! So what are you all wearing tonight?”
Summer smiled at Emily. Emily always managed to find the silver lining and she was weirdly practical too. If Summer were ever stranded on a desert island, she’d want it to be Emily that came to rescue her. Freddie would never want to leave, the beach was his spiritual home, he was like a fish in the water and a pro on a board. No matter how many times he’d tried to teach her, she just couldn’t get the hang of surfing. That was ok though, Summer was more than happy to read on the beach, switching from sun to shade, whenever either got too much. Freddie would never want to leave the island and Harry was too smart to ever get stranded on one. He’d have long parachuted out of the burning plane, wondering why his friends hadn’t used the packs he’d give them. It was probably on page gazillion of Harry’s personal life-hacks manual, the one book Summer hadn’t yet finished memorising – there was a lot to learn about that lovely boy.
Chuckling to herself, Summer thought about her outfit for that evening, the theme was ‘a touch of gold’. Summer’s mum, Anjulie, had come up with it months ago, and was so pleased that she actually had her own mother on board for once. Summer’s Nan, was never someone to care about the colour scheme, she would always appreciate when something looked good, but she was much more interested in what was on the menu and making sure everyone was well fed. Her mum and Nan actually made a pretty great team in that respect, her mum focusing on the finer details and her Nan looking at the bigger picture. Her mum making intricate plans and her Nan picking up bargains from Sainsbury’s.
When her mum had been brainstorming a theme – largely with herself – Summer and her dad had just nodded along, smirking at each other as they “oohed” and “ahhed” in all the right places, they’d become experts at having entirely different conversations while her mum chattered on. She could tell that her mum always pretended not to notice what they were doing, which made it even funnier.
Usually quiet during her mum’s party planning, Nan had unexpectedly perked up at the ‘touch of gold’ idea.
“I like that!”
“Nanny are you feeling alright?”
Summer and her Nan were usually on the same team with these over-the-top events.
“Yes, cheeky madam! I think gold, let’s go with gold. But let’s keep it classy”
“Obviously!” They all chimed in. It had recently become her mum’s pet word, so they were all keen to mimic her, obviously. Summer eyed her nanny. She must be up to something. She was never this decisive unless she was fed up, and it was too early for that, the conversation had only just begun.
Her thoughts returning to Emily’s earlier question, Summer decided that a slight exaggeration about her outfit would suffice:
“Well if mum had it her way, I’d be dressed as a gold star and transported in via a small two-man aeroplane to land daintily on top of a tree, or something”
Harry, always so literal, was genuinely confused: “That makes no sense. It’s your birthday not Christmas!”
First the mixing of seasons, now calendar events, it was all too much, for Harry.
“Well your parents do like flying” noted Freddie, remembering how his one long haul flight over from Australia was bad enough and often wondered why on earth Summer’s parents would opt to fly so often. Apparently in their youth, it had taken a minimum of two planes and more than a whole day to get to Australia, they’d still brought Summer over regularly though. Perhaps they didn’t mind flying because they were normal sized people, Freddie was only 16 but they were already both shorter than he was. He had long never-ending legs like his dad and nothing ever seemed to be built for people like him. Harry had said he’d help him build a website so they could sell some things for the lanky-limbed, they figured that if they were building things bigger, they would have to sell for more too. Harry would be the distributor for the northern hemisphere, while Freddie would cover the southern. That would totally work, right? They had pledged that this time next year, they’d be millionaires. Summer and Emily had said, if that were the case, they’d better start looking for their dream home now: Summer wanted one with a library (her mum hogged all the best shelf space) and Emily wanted one with a tennis court.
(Summer’s nanny to give her the gold bangles that have travelled throughout the novel, from character to character. This is how the book will end)
Thank you for humouring me, by reading this today. Please know that this is a one-off and normal baby loss musings shall resume going forwards. Happy Easter.
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