We relished sharing Leo's 1st birthday with our great friend Lesley who travelled over from the UK to spend the week with us. During that time they created a beautiful new language together consisting of the word, 'duggah, duggah.' He would spin off across the garden dragging her with him chuntering, 'duggah, duggah' at high speed. Even though he currently reaches just above her knees, like any good woman she would obey without question. On his birthday we gathered in bed and wonderful presents sent from near and far were opened....typically tacky wrapping paper and empty boxes were the highlight. Later we ate porridge, nibbled chocolate, drank tea and sat in the porch as the burning sun heated the day. A birthday lunch was enjoyed at a restaurant in town where the birthday boy surprised us all by tucking into Chris's chicken phad thai before washing it down with beer. He also had a poo. We spent a memorable afternoon with special friends decorating birthday cakes and sitting on the edge of a family pool overlooking the Nile. Magically as darkness fell we saw a shooting star and wished hard.
The next day a large group of friends and children gathered at our piece of land on the river to continue celebrating Leo being 1 (very much like the Queen, Leo's birthday covered two full days). We grazed on snacks and the 'Hungry Caterpillar' cake that had been decorated the day before made his debut, however a shark Lesley carved from a watermelon (for a laugh we'd googled 'watermelon sculptures') very nearly stole Caterpillar's thunder so we shoved him off to a separate table. Friends chatted, we lazed on blankets, crisps were munched, beer flowed and special presents were given ie: a fanatical-disco-playing-plastic-beach-buggy is stepped on regularly and cursed! A friend's daughter quietly asked when were we going to eat cake, so to the cake we raced. With Leo on my lap and Chris by my side I thanked everyone for coming to celebrate with us, for their valued friendship and for their support during the last few years. I spoke of how our roaring lion had altered our lives considerably and how it meant so much to be able to host his party at a place where Ella's memory is most alive. Symbolically her tree stood tall and strong nearby and a pink balloon hanging from a ribbon dangled in the breeze.
Leo turning 1 has been the largest milestone of my life and the relief I felt in the run up to his birthday was overwhelming. I have loved, sheltered and protected him for 12 complete months and like any new and wide-eyed mother a tsunami of emotion - love, pride, happiness, stress, heartache, tiredness, despair, anguish, joy, honour, adoration - has devoured me 24-7. He is our gift, our pot of gold and by return he threw us a lifeline and navigated us back to shore.
My cup of love for my son overfloweth.