Tuesday 12 February 2019

Not 21....

At 21 I imagined Elspeth to be in her 2nd or 3rd year of uni. She wouldn't have cut her hair short, and she wouldn't ever have been a person who wears loads of make up. She'd have learned to embrace her quirks a little more and found friends who loved her enough to get past her tantrums. She would still know more about Kanye West than his Mum and she'd still be the funniest person in the building whenever she chose to be.

At 21 she would love the freedom adulthood brings, she'd craved it for so long, but she'd also be a tiny bit terrified of the world and would need reassurance she was doing okay. By now she'd be more confident with the women she was, hopefully accepting her curves and not already spending her life on the eternal 'diet' we women come to accept and expect. She'd be an okay cook, and she'd live mainly on 3 different recipes, and cake. She loved cake. She inherited her father's love of sweeties too.

She'd be doing well in class, she always applied herself 100% and could work out how to do just about anything. She'd be stressed and be annoyed at herself for staying out late instead of revising, but she'd make some great memories.

She'd come home whenever she could, because she liked comfort and familiarity, and her family. She'd be proud to have 3 siblings at uni, and she'd pick on Tom for being a mechanic instead. He'd just laugh and point out he has his own house.

She'd make us smile and laugh, and be massively over-the-top about Christmas. She'd be able to see excitement in the future and where she could go. She'd make crazy plans and we'd have to point out that trains don't travel 500 miles an hour or that a 4 day round trip to Australia wasn't a good idea.

I can see it so clearly because I imagined it for so many years. I saw it as I looked at that little girl with skinned knees and a mardy lip, and I knew when she grew up she'd have everything she needed to go far and be brilliant. I don't miss 16 year old Elspeth anything like as much as I miss the 21 year old we will never know.

Back in a different lifetime a friend of mine was a Nurse working in Accident & Emergency. She told me about a father who lost his baby. The father turned to my friend and said helplessly "all that wasted hope". It made me cry so much to hear that story, even back then I knew he had it spot on.

I think I'll spend the rest of forever wondering why all those hopes and dreams stay with me so clearly, when they can never be. Those are the real ghosts. The absence of what could have been. The empty chair, the lack of footsteps on the stairs, no-one to shout 'in a minute' when you knock on the bathroom door. No guitar music wafting downstairs. Always a feeling we need to wait for someone else to arrive...

Happy 21st Birthday Elspeth - you'd have enjoyed it. You really would... You should have stayed.

Elspeth died on August 15th 2014. She was only 16. 

Suicide is now the biggest killer of school aged children in the UK. 
Suicide is the biggest killer of all people aged 5-35 in the UK

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Don't let it take away everything you can be. It can't be the 'best day ever' every day, but it can't be the 'worst day' forever either. Your life will change and if you need help to see how then do the bravest thing you can and put out your hand for someone else to hold.

If you are worried about yourself or someone else, talk to someone, there is always someone to listen. 

The Samaritans: 116 123
Childline 0800 1111


  1. 5 years ago - it only seems like yesterday. Huge hugs to you all xxx

  2. “All that wasted hope” is absolutely spot on. I’ll make sure I have a piece of cake today, I’ll raise a cake fork to her, and to you all xxx

  3. Sending you all lots of love, today and always x

  4. ENORMOUS lump in my throat. Oh, Elspeth. You SHOULD have stayed. x

  5. Much love to you all on this day and always xx
    This is such a beautiful post xx

  6. Sending you all my love today as always xx

  7. This post puts all of my feelings into words.. Its so reassuring to read. I didn't want to write on her Facebook wall to wish her happy birthday because it seems a bit showy to me so I just sent her a message sort of rambling on. Your post really echos the sentiment of my message. When i think about 16 year old me and then 20 year old me, I think about two different people with two totally different mindsets and outlooks on the world. I just know that Elspeth would've felt the same, and would've gone on to do all the great things you mentioned in your post. I just wish she would've changed her mind. Thank you for this post, sending you and the family lots of love and light xxx

    1. Thank you Megan, that really means a lot to both of us. I think sending her a private message is perfect, then you can say what you really want to say xx
      I hope life is being kind to you, to all of you - every time I see photos I can't believe what an amazingly beautiful bunch you all turned into - there must be something in the water round here and I wish it would off on me a bit! :)

  8. Thinking of you all today. Much love to you guys xxx

  9. Those hopes are engraved in your heart, not wasted, but your way of keeping her there too. Sending huge hugs on this difficult day, keep the smiles, she's be so proud of you all I'm sure. xxx

  10. Sending love and hugs. Thinking of you and your family. xxx

  11. Beautifully written, but absolutely heartbreaking. It seems like yesterday. My thoughts are with you all xx

  12. Can’t read this without tears welling up
    In my eyes. Heartbreaking! Sending love to you and your family xx Eva

  13. Sending lots of love and hugs. It is heartbreaking. Hugs xx

  14. Oh how utterly heartbreaking. I am sending you and yours love and healing light. You are brave and wonderful for sharing this with us all. Thank you. #blogcrush xoxo

  15. This is such a moving post. Thank you so much for sharing . Someone loved this post so much they added it to our #blogcrush linky


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