The Birthday Week


How is it that one 80’s love song played on the radio, whilst I am driving in the car can make me burst into tears, taking me right back to the physical heart-break of losing Darrell. Peter Cetera I am looking at you here. I was driving happily along the M3 motorway watching the glorious waterfalls cascading down our Table Mountain when the said song brought buckets of tears falling from my eyes.

This week was always going to be a sad one. There are certain days of the year that I just dread. When you lose a loved one, days that used to be celebratory days become much dreaded marks on the calendar. I get really run down and stressed in the run up to them. On Saturday 17 June Darrell should have been turning 42. We were thinking of ways to celebrate his 40th birthday, as he was 8 weeks short of that monumental milestone when he tragically died. Darrell did not like a big thing made about his birthday, but as it was his 40th he had decided we must mark the occasion. And we were both quite excited about it. We were exactly where we wanted to be in life. We were more in love than ever, Darrell was at the top of his career, the chief pilot for a huge firm, we had moved into our dream home and  had had a bonny baby boy. Our life was really good.



Darrell’s birthday is followed by Fathers Day on Sunday. As wrong as it is, I find it so hard to celebrate with my own dad, as I know what a special day this would have been for Darrell. We finally got our beautiful little miracle baby, the one we had been  praying for and now Darrell will not be there to see him grow into the man we had hoped and dreamed he would become. A man just like his father, I hope. Darrell never got to lie in bed while Elijah and I serve him breakfast on a tray with home-made cards declaring our love for him. He never even got to hear Elijah say Daddy.

On Saturday I plan to celebrate Darrell’s life with Elijah, we will sing and eat cake. And I will take the time with Elijah to show him much cherished photos of his father and tell him what a good daddy he was and how much he loved his little boy. I want to start some kind of tradition that Elijah and I do each year but I honestly do not have a clear enough mind to think what that should be. I do not want to just pretend it is just another day. As hard as it is, I want to own the day, make a big deal about it. It is a day to celebrate. To celebrate Darrell. Elijah and Darrell’s close family deserve that. It is after all, the day this great hero of a man was born.

I am also doing a little bit of decorating in my house. Even though Darrell was such a manly man, hero, helicopter pilot who loved to build things he absolutely loved design and decorating! And so I am doing my room up in memory of him. Remaking a room we had done together in Tulbagh here in my Cape Town home. Trying to recreate a little of the style we had there and incorporating a few things Darrell had bought and we had not gotten around to using yet. Pushing my trolley down the aisle at Builders Warehouse (Darrell’s favorites shop next to Game) took me back to those moments of shopping excitedly with him while we were doing up one of our two homes. I really felt Darrell would be proud of me in that moment in such a manly environment getting on with it. 

On Sunday I will probably just lie in bed with the covers over my head until all the Father’s Day hype dies down, well as much as a two-year old will allow me too! And then I shall feel privileged to be able to cook my lovely father a roast lunch.




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  1. Teri-Jane

    Totally get you on the special days, they are just never the same again.

    1. Angela Rea

      So true. And I know you know too. Xxxx

  2. Kyla-Rei

    This year we celebrated what would have been my uncle’s 54th birthday. It also marked 20 years since he passed. Ang, thank you for putting into words things I literally cannot verbalise. His boys have grown up without him. We all miss him in our own ways but together, as a family, we have found a new normal. It has a hero sized hole in it but we never forget those we love. We love you Ang and pray for strength through this weekend

    1. Angela Rea

      Thank you so much sweet lady. Xxxx

  3. Monica

    Sending even more love and prayers to you this week Angie. You are an amazing, strong and wonderful women. Xoxo

    1. Colette

      I was priviledged to have known Darrel for a short while.He was staying in one of my self-catering cottages while he was stationed in Stutterheim.
      Very excited about the prospect of being a father.
      Will never forget him.
      Special man
      Wish you all the best for yourself and the cherished little boy

      1. Angela Rea

        Thank you so much Colette. This made me cry. He was so excited.

    2. Angela Rea

      Thanks Monica. Love to you all. Xxx

  4. Tarryn

    This post got me so emotional! I really take my hat off to you for being such a strong mom! Yoh are doing so amazing and these days must be so hard! Thank you for sharing your story and being honest about it!

  5. Khalida Speck

    I don’t know you personally and I am privileged to have my husband by my side and my 80 year old father in my life, however, your gut wrenching words made me “feel” your pain. I hope you’ve managed to have a celebration of Derrell’s life today with your beautiful son and I will say a prayer for you tomorrow. God’s strength to you. Love and light, Khalida

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