Tuesday 13 September 2011

Lily's birthday

Ten years ago today, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, my daughter Lily was born. The foot and mouth crisis in the UK was slowly drawing to close.  It was a calamitous year.

Lily was born so swiftly that I hardly realised I had given birth..'Look down, look down' the midwife said, and there she was, a tiny waxy little girl. After giving birth to a boy, Freddie, two and a half years earlier, I had been (secretly) hoping for a daughter...my Lily

I could tell you so many things about Lily.

How, as a newborn she cried every evening but stopped if I took her outside to see the moon.

How she walked on her first birthday...although she didn't really want to be any where but my arms until she was three.

How she called orchids, 'awkwards' and buttercups 'hiccups' until she was nearly in school.

How she kept a little wooden fox by her bed because 'she saw foxes in the night' and was scared.

I could tell you that she was solemn with strangers, but kind, loving and happy at home and with friends. And she talked about poo as much as any other child.

I could tell you about how she used to refuse her spinach at dinner but happily browse on pennywort and hawthorn leaves in spring.

And how, when flagging at the end of a long walk, I used give her and her big brother Freddie one date each and the burst of energy sent them charging up the last hill yelling 'date power!'

I could tell you how she sometimes woke early and took Tansy and Leo into her bed to read and play.

I could tell you the wildflowers she knew...fumitory, black medic, scarlet pimpernel, guelder rose....The Flower Faries were her favourite 'reading in bed' books.

I could tell you so many things

What I can't tell you is what she'll be doing for her birthday today, although I know she'll be close by, in the whispering trees, in the iridescent damselfly which visits us every day, in the little wren who hides in the willow.

Lily's 6th birthday, 2007
I can tell you what we are doing. We are lighting a candle and remembering and loving her and wishing with all our hearts that she could be here eating cake with us again.

Lily Rose


  1. Dear Henrietta

    What beautiful words, and how brave you are to share them.

    Thank you
    and love to you all

  2. Henrietta I love your blog, and I share all of the value of the earth-wisdom you hold dear - we live like this too. And I wanted to tell you how very moved I was by your blog on Lily. Thank you so much for the courage and heart to share these words. I send you a hug.

  3. Dear Henrietta,
    Congratulations on a beautiful blog. I shall come by and enjoy it often.
    It is such a tender and loving tribute to Lily and a joyful celebration of the life of your whole family.
    Thanks for having the courage to make it.

  4. How beautifully you paint the portrait of your first daughter, Henrietta. I am sorry that I did not have the chance to get to know her, but I am grateful to have had a second chance to get to know you. Happy birthday to Lily, and love to you and the family.

  5. Thankyou all so much for yor loving comments, it's taken me a little time to work out how to comment on my blog.
    It did feel courageous but also cathartic and somehow right to share Lily's birthday. So that her memory does not fade into the mists of time, so that the love and beauty of her life and legacy can grow and never diminish.
    I really appreciate and loved reading all your encouraging words, Thankyou

  6. What an incredibly beautiful child you brought into this world. I wish I had words to heal. I don't. But please keep sharing about her.
    I recently listened to Clarissa Pinkola Estes audio The Radiant Coat ~ myths and stories about the afterlife. I found it deeply moving.


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