"Come here chic," I said, sitting Alexis on my lap whilst wiping her tears. It was ironic really, because I was crying, but I didn't like her being upset.
"I wanted her back to make you happy again,"
I kissed her head, giving her a tight hug. She had just said a lot, and it was something I didn't expect such a young child to think- had I caused it?
Had I pushed the idea of being happy too far?
Was bringing her here a mistake? No. She deserved to visit Rose's grave, it was her mum, and this was the closest we could feel and get. There wasn't a way to make this feel normal, but this was the best I could do.
Alexis curled into my chest and closed her eyes, pinching and twisting at my top.
"Alexis, can we talk for a moment?"
"A big girl talk, okay? And you need to listen super well,"
"Rose, mummy, died four years ago. She didn't feel any pain, she got to tell me she loved me, and she is now in another place. That place can be as magical as you want it to be, and it can be however you imagine,"
"So she might be riding unicorns?"
"She might be," I chuckled, wiping my own tears, "but she is going to stay in that place forever, because her body couldn't live on Earth anymore,"
"It is my birthday, but I am sad,"
"That is okay. You can be sad about mummy, but we should be happy too,"
"I want a cuddle from her,"
Slowly, I stood up, keeping her on my hip.
"I guess that means double the cuddles from your dad huh? Lets get home now love, Uncle Mikey will be back soon,"
She blew a kiss towards the grave, and I did the same, planting a soft kiss her her cheek too.
"Good girl for being respectful as well,"
"I know, it's really good when you do that. When we get home, can we tidy up your toys a little?"
"But then you can't get your sticker,"
"Oh yeah, okay,"
I strapped her in the car again and put a small blanket over her, grabbing a juice from the boot. She was getting tired, and I wouldn't mind if she had a nap to be honest.
I got in the car and turned the radio on, then off; my thoughts felt so cramped. They were bouncing off each other, creating friction and rough edges in my brain.
My own mind was overheating.
This visit had only made me wonder what we would be like as a family, and how Alexis would maybe like her more than me.
Not maybe, definitely.
She only liked me because she was stuck with me. Rose would've known she preferred dancing and singing, and could make Alexis feel like a proper princess. She would choose the right cups and plates, and Alexis would listen to her because that was just Rose.
She was the buffer of my rough edges.
"Dad, I want my school uniform! I want to make you both proud,"