Last year, as two shouty little ladies were born into my life, two of my favourite women left it. My wonderful grandmother, and my beautiful best friend of 10 years.
I naively thought that moving continent would provide enough distance from these events to somehow make the bitter pill of bereavement a little easier to swallow. It hasn’t. The sadness continues to roll in like an ocean; peaks and troughs. But when a wave hits, it is harder, higher and rougher than anything the Atlantic could throw my way, leaving me breathless and sinking.
I think of them both every day. And in some ways the move here has made that longing more difficult, as I now have so much I want to tell them. None of it important, of course. Just normal life nonsence.
So what would I say to them both if they were still here.
To my gorgeous grandmother, I would let her know that the babies’ hair grows suspiciously redder by the day in the Senegalese sun; just like hers. I would let her know that unlike her hilariously un-PC generation, they only see smiles. The innocent eyes of 7 months old twins see past colour, creed and class and instead only recognise kindness. I would tell her the people here are wonderfully warm, they would love her joie de vivre, and she theirs. I miss her laugh, wit and self-deprecating jokes. Her silliness and rock-solid wisdom. And more than anything, I wish I had gotten my heavily pregnant arse on a train and visited her before she quietly snuck out the back door.
And to my dearest friend, who was the light of so many lives. I would describe how Dakar is a world away from London; every day is a jaw-dropping experience, both good and bad. I would tell her that shopping out here is diabolically stressful, unlike our many leisurely London retail therapy sessions. The women here are so impeccably put together, it puts us Londoners to shame. That the Senegalese are (if she could believe it) even worse than me at map reading and directions… every outing in search of a restaurant or shop is like the blind leading the geographically blind. I would laugh and tell her that the other night I was hit with such a barrel load of baby vomit, it is a miracle I didn’t dissolve to be found in a heap of clothes like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. That the twins are thriving and that her goddaughter gives me serious gyp everyday. And despite claiming to avoid working here I have already begun to dip my editorial toes into the Senegalese fashion arena. Finally, that I love her and can’t wait for cocktails with her and the girls in the London sunshine this summer, to fill her in on the rest.
The fact that they’re not here for these trivial and mundanely normal chats feels unacceptable. And some days almost impossible to digest.
The older I get the more I realise how fucking spot on Forrest Gump was when he said ‘life is like a box of chocolates’. You were right Forrest, you never know what you’re going to get. What hand you’ll be dealt or what the next life chapter holds.
My mother, is the wisest person I know. She regularly tells me that life is just a journey and we have no choice but to travel the road we are on, headfirst into the sun or rain. Make the most of each day. Look after one another. And never take anything for granted.
So today that involves enjoying the Senegalese sunshine, sipping G&Ts and cuddling those babes just that little bit tighter.
I am thinking of you all at home. And as always, sending love your way.
As the locals say, inshallah.
And as my bestie always said, ‘three kisses’.