Throughout the day I have been more than aware that a countdown has now started. It has been quietly ticking along for a few weeks, as we have been thinking about the Girl's impending tenth birthday, but today it has got significantly louder.
Today marks the day ten years ago that I saw my Dad for the last time.
I was heavily pregnant, and nervous about leaving home and the easy reach of our hospital for long periods of time. He was at home drinking Guinness with his horse tablets and oxygen, just a month after we were told that there were no more options for treatment. A few days earlier he had tried pouring his G&T into his nebuliser....way to go, Pops!
I massaged his puffy feet, and he told me not to have the baby induced early for his sake, as it was a dangerous thing to do. We drank a dry sherry together. I went home, and had a stinking cold for the next week and was thankful that I didn't have a cold when I went to see him.
The countdown ends on the Girl's birthday, so I won't be commemorating it then, marking as it does the death of both parents. An unsettling coincidence, especially when considered (if considered is the word) at 11.59pm on the 25th March while in the delivery room of the Princess Royal Hospital. The realisation that we're not quite there yet, the clock hands move too fast. It will be the 26th. The realisation that this is just how it will be. The same day. The same day as my mother in 1973. And then just six hours and twenty minutes after my daughter's entry into the world, my father's exit as well.
So today is my remembrance day for Pops, not the Girl's day.
I didn't have a swig of the black stuff, but downed a few sloe gins in his memory. He always had a jar of sloe gin in the cupboard under the stairs, but I don't remember him ever getting round to drinking it.