September 26th 2012
Dear Mitzi Joy,
Six! Six years old today my little Mitzi-moo! And where do I start?
At just 5–weeks-old, you, tiny, Lola 17 months and Monty just weeks before he turned 3, your daddy, your big strong daddy, turned to me and said ‘if we don’t move to France now (with now 3 under threes) then we never will…Shall we do it?’ To which I agreed. Two weeks later we had got rid of everything we owned, bar a couple of suitcases of clothes and your cot. We packed the car and set off for a new life in France. The journey was intense, we travelled day and through the night, arriving in Mimizan, a town in South-West France in les Landes. I remember trees, and lots of them, I remember the ‘on the brink of divorce’ direction chats your dad and I had in the car, in the dark, three kids tired, fed up and crying. I remember going round and round the same streets daddy saying’ I know it’s here somewhere’ but not having the luxury of a GPS in those days, we relied on my ridiculous screeching ‘no turn RIGHT!’ directions, trying to read a map of a forest thick, deserted area of France, and in the pitch black!
But we eventually arrive.
Late November, I couldn’t speak a word of French, and I remember feeling very lonely and as daddy went off regularly to try and find work (oh yes, we had no work either!), spending the days feeling as though all I did was try and get you kids to have a nap in the hope tiredness was the excuse for how grizzly you all were, only to find it never worked! However it was one of the most cathartic things I have done in my life, getting rid of everything, starting anew, a new country, not speaking the language. A very humbling time, not speaking the language, you have no personality and often rely on gesticulating, apologising for not understanding and grinning inanely!
We went for many forest walks and we started to settle in, daddy finally found us an apartment to rent, and I stated to make a few friends.
This was a very different start to life for you. And you were big-eyed, inquisitive and climbed everywhere, walking across a car park at just 10-months-old. Physically you have had a determination to do things, to climb and you have the need to be active constantly, just like your dad!
You are a complex little girl, extraordinarily loving, climbing up anyone who stands long enough (thirty seconds and she’s on you!) life in France was ideal for you. Your inquisitiveness, your depth of character, appearing outgoing but hugely shy and unconfident at times.
I do, however, see that starting school, making friends, being funny, mischievous, explorative in nature, that you seem to be finding your niche and your confidence has excelled.
Daddy was your idol! Always marvelling at what he did, how strong he was, a real interest in what he did and why. You loved the surf trips to the beach, and watching your dad surf. You were the first on a surf board, and when we recently went back on holiday to France, you were in your element, I can’t get you out of water! You will attempt anything, and fear is something you find a strange concept, because you love challenges physically, they don’t scare you as they do me, you have this need to try it, a passion for water-and that’s your dad too!
And then just after your 5th birthday, days after, daddy has his accident. You have been a difficult one to read. You seem to accept it more naturally than the others…you’re not old enough to have the profound memories of how daddy was, Lola and Monty are very marked by how different and changed he is. Although you cry most nights heartbroken and missing your lovely daddy...How my heart aches for you and I wish I could take this away...
To begin with you were scared, you didn’t want to go near him, you were scared to come to hospital, you had to have me near you, cuddling or carrying you, and you would hover not that near to his bed, the only one to not give him kisses. Looking back I realise you had no idea how this could have happened. A concept that at 5, you couldn’t comprehend.
So I didn’t force you, I let you come to him in your own time.
Now visits with dad are very different, you are the one sitting on his lap, cupping his face in your hands telling him to say things, asking him to do things and without knowing it, my precious little girl, you incite in daddy a desire to get better, just from your presence, just in how you talk to him, and how much you love to make him laugh and how you try and make him smile.
Your laugh Mitzi is contagious, a wicked little chuckle that sets everyone in the room off! Your eyes shine with love and happiness and you are so expressive!
What has happened to daddy has broken my heart, and one thing I wish for you kids is that you are happy, despite.
How you are with dad is an example of the simplicity of uncomplicated love, daughter for father. Sometimes I sit and watch you with him, it brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face as I see how natural you are with him.
Many lessons us adults could learn from how you are with people, with dad. There’s no judgement, no prejudices, just pure love and energy and an acceptance of what has happened, but your love for him runs as deep as ever-as his does for you.
I hope my little Mitzi-Joy, as you reflect your name at so many levels, that I am doing alright in this for you. That I am helping you as you need to be, giving you the patience and the love and affection you deserve.
Please remember that daddy didn’t choose this, that I make mistakes, I sometimes anger in the place of having ultimate patience-and my goodness you kids deserve all the patience in the world after going through this.
I am so privileged to have you, your brother and sisters, I don’t think I would have made it through this without you.
This is the life we have now, and I hope you see how full of love and blessings it is, even though we had tried to set up a different way of life. Life does change overnight, and you have to be resilient and grateful.
I love you to the moon and back again, and my soul is forever entwined with yours my angel…
Thank you for being my Joy, my hope, my inspiration to keep going and a wonder to me.
Carry on being innocent, loving, strong and confident in who you are, because you are wonderful. You may have the tendency to be hurt easily, but nothing should ever knock you, because you are a unique and inspiring character…
Happy birthday my Mitzi Joy!
Love mummy xxxxxxxx