"Hello," I smiled, Alexis jumping into my arms, "how is my gorgeous baby girl?"
"Well, I made something at the craft table and some boys said it was horrible, but it was a frame for my drawing of me and mummy,"
"Oh sweetheart, I'm sure it's lovely. Where is it?"
"I ripped it up and put it in the bin,"
"If people criticise you for something you're proud of, it's more of a reason to keep going. Don't do that next time, I love seeing your crafts!"
I put her in the car and kissed her cheek, then drove us home to eat a snack before her gymnastics.
"Uncle Ashton is going to come and watch with me,"
"Can I say hello?"
"Of course you can. Eat this up,"
I gave her some chopped up apple and sat with her on my lap, planting kisses on her head every so often.
"I think we should make a new frame this weekend love,"
"You just keep smiling and playing with your friends, okay? Horrible people don't deserve you,"
She gave me the bowl and I picked her up, putting it in the kitchen, and taking her upstairs to change into her leotard.
"I hope I'm good,"
"Even if you stumble, you'll learn,"
"Learning is good. I like this colour,"
"Blue looks very pretty on you!"
I took her there, listening to music on the way which lifted her spirits. Ashton met us and she insisted on being carried by him, then I filled out a form for her when we got in.
"Go and make some friends munchkin, Uncle Ashton and I will be sat watching okay? It doesn't matter if you fall over, you just have to stand back up,"
She nodded and went into the gym while Ash and I sat up in the stands. I saw her and some other girls running around, smiles on their faces.
A coach came and they all settled down, introducing themselves because it was a new group of people.
"How are things with you?" Ashton asked, "feeling better?"
"I am, I'm happy. As long as nothing too major hits us,"
"She has good friends, but some people seem to be really mean. She made a frame for a drawing of her and Rose, and some boys made fun of it so she ripped it up, and threw it away,"
"Bless her. Tell her teacher if it continues,"
"I will, but she didn't seem too upset. We're going to remake it,"
He nodded and pointed, smiling as Alexis did a forward roll.
"She'll be doing them everywhere now,"
"Oh well, good practice," he chuckled, "look at her smile,"
It was the brightest smile I'd ever seen in the world. As her dad, all I wanted was for her to smile, and laugh, and be full of energy.
"Thankyou for this Ash, and to Luke,"
"It's good to have a passion,"
"Sorry I got mad,"
"I get you, it seems like we think you can't do things yourself, but that's not the case. We just want to see her grow up with lots of opportunities that we couldn't have,"
After the session, Ashton picked her up and kissed her cheek, telling her how amazing she was. He spun around and she laughed, but then she reached for me.
"Do you think I was good?"
"I think you're a superstar. Shall we get home and have some food?"
"Uncle Ashton, I made curry with dad yesterday. We used chicken,"
"Well done, you're very talented. I'll see you soon okay?"
"Come over today!"
"I've got to get going, but I'll come over soon. I love you," he said, kissing her head before waving goodbye.
I put her back in the car and gave her a blanket, them we drove back home. Michael was playing video games so I sat Alexis on the kitchen counter and started to cook food. She helped me again, nothing sharp, but she loved to learn.
"When you're older, you can cook for me and Uncle Mikey," I chuckled.
"Will we always live with him?"
"I'm not sure, it depends if dad can get more money,"
"Okay. I don't mind. I love him,"
"I know you do, you love lots of people!"
I dished up the food and we all sat at the table, Michael listening to Alexis about her day. She was starting to have less energy, but told the story nevertheless.
We cleaned up and then she played with her dollhouse a little, before I gave her a bath and brushed her teeth.
"I wish you were here when I woke up,"
"I know, but now I can pick you up from school. I'd like to always be able to do that,"
"Grandma used to pick me up, and it's nice,"
"Oh, okay. Can you read my book to me please?"
I picked one out and read it to her, then tucked her in. My phone started to ring so I kissed her goodnight and stepped into Michael's room.
"Hey, Cal. How are you?"
"I'm good mum, are you?"
"I'm actually feeling a bit ill, and I was wondering if tomorrow you could bring me round some basics like bread and milk? I'll pay you, I just feel awful,"
"I can come and stay if you need help,"
"No, I'm okay, just not enough to go out. I promise,"
"Alright, I'll do it after I've picked Alexis up from school. I love you,"
"I love you Calum, bye,"
I went to bed soon after, and woke up again to do the same routine. Work was pretty mediocre, and when I picked Alexis up she was happy as usual.
"Dad, I know all the months!"
"Oh my goodness! Aren't you clever?"
"January is the first month. We have birthdays in the first month,"
"What month was I born in?"
"Your birthday is the day you were born munchkin,"
"Oh. That makes sense,"
I grabbed the food for mum, and we dropped it round- along with a card drawn by Alexis- and then headed home to cook.
She drew pictures for her friends while Mike and I cooked, then we ate watched some tv together. Eventually, Alexis started to yawn so I took her upstairs to go to bed, softly signing to her until she nodded off.
Her little curls fell across her face and I laid beside her, gently rubbing her back. I owed her beauty to Rose. Her kindness, her creativity- everything.
When I saw how beautiful and smart Alexis was, I saw Rose. However, no matter how many times I told myself that, it never sunk in that she was truly gone.
I felt like she was beside me, giving me a poke everytime I became miserable.
Because sadly, I'd learnt that life was too short to be upset about small things all the time.