Our problem: We live in a part of England that boomed during Tudor times thanks to the wool trade. Wealthy Tudors built beautiful timber-framed houses, and our village is full of them. We have views of the Colne Valley, a good primary school, a brilliant shop and a locally renowned pub. It’s a great village. People are born here, then never move. Others move in and stay forever. We are in this group. It’s fifteen years since Steph and I escaped London with our two little girls and a Pierre-shaped bump to live here.
We’re lucky, so where’s the problem? Well, the thing is our village is so lovely that people stay. This means that everywhere we look we see Juliette’s friends.
I know families like ours sometimes move away from stark reminders of what their child will never be, but we didn’t. This was the only home she remembered, and is where we have our best memories of her. But the price of our memories is having to watch from a distance as Juliette’s friends get older, while another year’s snowdrops bloom on her grave across the way. That’s never really got easier.
We watched as her friends grew tall and slim, lost their baby teeth, left primary then climbed the bus for their secondary school adventure. They are sixteen now, like Juliette should be next month. The girls have boobs, and some have boyfriends. They’ve left Juliette behind.
I can’t picture Juliette at sixteen. I try, but all I can manage is a taller version of her five-year-old self, with post-chemo tufts of hair and a twinkle in her eyes. Perhaps this isn’t too far from reality, but I wish I’d been allowed to find out.