And so, to get things moving, Liz over at violetposy.co.uk has sent out a general tag for people to blog about their favourite photo.
Since the arrival of the small fella over a year ago, there have been plenty of great photo moments - most of them missed by seconds! But when it came to choosing a special picture, I went back to my own childhood.
This photo was taken on my 8th birthday in my aunt's house, over 3 hours away from our own home. I'm the glam queen at the back on the chair - naturally, it was my party after all - and below from left to right are my brother, and my two cousins. Our auntie had produced elaborate costumes and made up our faces for our little fancy-dress. I'm not sure what the theme was but I've a feeling I may have been attempting a Boy George impression - I was quite keen on the Mini-Pops at that stage! Of course there were homemade cakes and goodies of all sorts. I have one vivid memory of laughing so hard at something, probably one of the boys' antics, I could barely breathe.
There may have been lots of geography between us, but the four of us, me, my brother and our two cousins, also a sister and brother, were a small band of comrades who spent every holiday together. We had adventures that would have been impossible on our own. We were spread over 5 years, my older cousin Ivan taking care of us. The two of us girls were "bosom buddies, lifelong pals" (I'm sure we stole that from somewhere) and the boys were wheels-mad. No major event happened in our lives without the others being there. I remember being rushed to hospital to have my appendix out at thirteen and waking up the next morning to find they had driven through the night to be at my bedside when I woke. And nearly bursting my stitches with laughter at them so the nurses had to ask them to leave again.
Even as we got older, we were still more like one large family, checking in with each other regularly, visiting when we could. I'd still get that shiver of excitement as we drove up the sheltered laneway to their house on visits, even into my twenties.
Then, when he was 5 days short of his 26th birthday, Ivan died suddenly in bed on a Bank Holiday Monday morning. I still have to stop as I type this. To say we were devastated will never be enough. Obviously his sister and his younger brother, who arrived ten years after us, feel this more than we'll ever comprehend. Their existence was torn open. But the four of us was an entity in itself. And the remaining three sat around his coffin in the days after with one of our limbs lying lifeless beside us.
Terrible things happen in people's lives that are difficult to understand. My life has been blessed in more ways than seem fair. This thing was terrible but I'm grateful everyday to have had a cousin, a friend so close that I now can miss him so badly.
I'll try to keep the next posts a bit chirpier but I wanted to remember him today.
Like Liz, I'm sending out a general tag for anyone who wants to take up the challenge.