And then I remember...
And it's not just me. I see it when her Dad, or her brothers and sister forget. And I see it when they realise. I see that flash across their eyes as they remember she died.
Elspeth felt she was alone, weird, different. She felt no-one would miss her, it would make life easier if she went. She thought we'd all just carry on regardless, as if a car backfired outside, or the living room lights simply flickered.
She wasn't alone, she was surrounded by people who cared, but she hid that she needed help, and none of us were able to spot it. We weren't given the opportunity to help.
She wasn't weird. Well, no more than anyone else. Everyone thinks that they're weird and it's hellish being a teenager because that's when you really feel a need for a place to fit in, and it's when you spot the differences. By 40 you begin to realise actually everyone is a bit weird, especially the people you used to think weren't. And you couldn't care less.
She was different. She could play guitar and draw, and she loved the music I listened to when I was a teenager. She had deadpan comic timing, and sarcasm to beat them all. She never walked down the stairs, only ran, and she could trip over her own feet while standing in one spot. She had the most amazing hair, a great smile, and her whole face lit up when she laughed or was caught off guard. No-one else will ever be her.
We all miss her. Every single day her name is mentioned aloud, her photo smiled at and her jacket is left on it's peg....because you can't bear to think of a life with her completely gone...
Life isn't easier, life is very hard.
We didn't carry on regardless. Elspeth's nearest sibling has spent the last 13 months in and out of hospital, climbing out of the hole that was left, and learning to cope without their sister. Elspeth's Dad was rushed to hospital a few months ago with heart problems. Elspeth's little brothers over 2 years later will not enter an empty room or go to the toilet alone. The Summer holidays have been very long and very hard, and crammed full of memories, and I can't imagine any of us ever looking forward to August ever again.
Tomorrow 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day, and people across the world will show a ribbon of support. That ribbon means we know you are not so weird. You are not moaning. You are important and you matter to me. And I assure you, you will be missed. Please stay. Please stay, so that you can find your own hope, and your own smiles.
On the 15th of each month I share the smiles I've collected from my family throughout the previous 4 weeks. Each day that I can make someone smile is a day that was worthwhile. Each smile of my own proves that I can find the joy.
Each smile is the reason and reminder that we can keep stepping carefully around the huge hole in our family which will always be there, and we can carry on. We can have a look at what is around the corner, we can take opportunity. We can enjoy the sun setting and the birds singing, grass on our toes and wind in our face. No-one can take that from us. We can laugh and sing and dance (very badly, but who the f*ck cares). We can feel pride and achievement, friendship and love. We can have hope.
I treasure every single smile....
And I will always miss Elspeth's smile, and I will always wish that she had been able to find hope, or that she had told us she had lost hers, so that we could try to help her find it again.
Nothing is easy.
How children cope with the death of a close loved one.
What happens when someone is a victim to suicide in your house.
Coping with the first Christmas after losing a family member.
And if you read nothing else today.... Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Decide To Leave This Christmas Or In The period Thereafter.
You aren't alone. If you want to talk to someone you always can.
The Samaritans are on hand 24 hours a day. If you are a young person or are worried about another young person, you may feel more comfortable talking to Papyrus or Childline.
If you are a bereaved parent or have lost a child, Child Bereavement UK may be able to help.
If you have lost someone to suicide, then you can speak to SOBS (Survivors Of Bereavement By Suicide).
You have already proven you are stronger than you think.