My Darling E
It's the Fifth of December and it would have been your birthday today.
Still is, I suppose, because none of us can choose - or change - the day we come into this world.
And that's how it stays forever.
Even though I didn't get to know you until some years later, I'm very glad you were born that day, because my life would have been immeasurably poorer if we had never met.
I am very aware it's the first time in exactly fifty years that we haven't been together to celebrate your birthday.
So today has been particularly tough remembering what has been - and can never be again.
Charlotte and Ivan, Adrian and Nikki, and Darcy, Caitlin, Reuben and Harriet came over yesterday and stayed overnight, so that we could all be together.
Darcy, Caitlin and Reuben were very aware that today was your birthday. And I know that is something they will now never forget. Harriet, too, when she is a couple of more years older.
The three of them have not forgotten Oma and can recognise you in photographs taken even quite a few years ago.
Darcy has her own special framed photograph of you in her bedroom.
And she packed it in her case herself when she knew she was coming here this weekend.
Others have been thinking of you too on this special day.
Mary rang twice to say she wanted me to know that you and I were both very much in her thoughts.
'The first one is the worst one,' she said in another context, speaking of her own experience.
Sitting here in the quiet of the evening after everyone has gone, I understand what she means.
There were two lovely cards in the post yesterday morning.
Inside one the message was...
We're thinking of you especially at this time - the weekend of dear Eileen's birthday.
Marilyn and Richard xxx'
And the other one read...
Just wanted to let you know I'll be thinking of you and Eileen tomorrow and remembering many Happy Birthdays we shared.
Much love xx
You never were very happy with being the centre of attention on your birthday, or a lot of fuss being made of you.
That was especially so this time last year.
But let me pick out a birthday memory on a lighter note, which you may well have forgotten about.
It was early in our relationship.
Do remember I was still living at '72' and so was still 'the boy next door.'
That cold, dark Fifth of December evening, as I left '72' to come to see you, I was aware of music come from just up the road.
It was the local Salvation Army and they were making their way down Onslow Gardens, playing carols and knocking on doors with their collection tins.
Well it was just a few weeks to Christmas.
So, instead of going straight into '74' I walked up and had a chat with the person in charge.
By the time they reached the gate of '74' I was already inside and had kissed the birthday girl and wished her 'Happy Birthday'.
When one of the collectors knocked on the door, your mother and father (as if on cue) insisted we went to the front door with them to listen to the carols.
When the band had finished the carol they were playing, the leader called for silence and asked if there was anyone there called 'Eileen'.
When you said that it was you, they immediately launched into a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.
It had already cost me a ten shilling contribution to their collecting tin - a lot of money in those day - but the look on your face was priceless.
You did make me pay for it by playing hard to get for the rest of the evening.
Well, for half-an-hour at least.
You always said, my love, that you hated being born at the dark miserable end of the year.
And that if you ever came back to this world, you wanted your birthday to be at the height of summer, when the sky was blue, the sun was warm and there was colour everywhere.
Well would that you could - and that your wish would come true.
Because no-one deserves it more - in return for all sunshine, laughter and sparkle you brought to our lives.
A lot of people have been thinking about you today - and missing you.
All my love