16 June 2016: A sunny start, but heavy clouds and rain predicted

“Hattie sat up straight and had a sip of her tea. She sighed. This is what stoeps are for. Drinking tea, and sighing and looking out at the veld. But Hattie was still looking inside her cup.”

Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew

Jo Cox
Photo, courtesy of Google and Batley and Spen

Next to her she could hear the soft snores of her husband. She glanced at the alarm clock, slowly eased out of bed and padded over to the bedroom door.

The house was still.

In the lounge she pulled the curtain aside to reveal a bright blue sky, the sun peeking out from behind just one small grey cloud. They had predicted rain for today, but the early morning sun certainly told a different story. With a spring in her step, she filled the kettle and popped the switch, pausing for a moment to wait for the familiar hiss of the kettle coming to life.

Next, she turned to the cupboard. She knew there were some Fox’s biscuits she’d semi-hidden at the back behind the tea. Already a sizeable dent had been made in the biscuits. She smiled to herself – her hiding places were no match for her hungry family.

She enjoyed mornings. Summer mornings were the best. The early birds were already singing and the air smelt fresh from the rain during the night. There was a lot on her mind and a full day ahead. A rising sense of action took hold of her and she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.

At the table, she flicked through the headlines on her iPad. She dipped a Fox’s into her tea just long enough for the white chocolate chips to melt, but not risking losing the biscuit. She sighed. 42 next week. Her husband had asked her last night what she wanted to do for her birthday. “It’s not a special birthday – I don’t need a party!”. He’d smiled and rolled his eyes. This was not the first time they’d had this conversation over the last few weeks, and it always ended the same way.

“Maybe I should do something fun?” she said out aloud to the biscuit. “The children would love a party.” She took another contemplative mouthful of hot, comforting tea. Yes, perhaps 42 wasn’t too bad after all.

“Let’s face today first, shall we?” she whispered to her dwindling tea.

Downstairs, the house had begun to stir…

Jo Cox started her day on Thursday 16th June in the same way we all do. Little rituals. A hot cup of something soothing. Thoughts of the day to come. Plans and hopes for life.

We didn’t know Jo Cox at all. We had never been to Batley and Spen. We didn’t know that Fox’s biscuits were made there. However, Hubby and I and many people all over England, the UK and the world felt her death keenly.

Jo Cox was my age, born in June 1974 – our birthdays are just 5 days apart. Like me, she was just 5 feet tall. I suppose that’s where the similarities end, but somehow, the fact that I am still breathing and she is not, brings a lump to my throat. Such a waste of a life –  yet a life fully lived in the time she had.

Today, Jo Cox would have turned 42 years old. She left behind two small children and a loving husband, but I hope and believe that God will see that good comes from her untimely death and that her legacy lives on.

SMALL PRINT
P.s. I don’t presume to know how Jo Cox started her morning on that fateful day, nor what she had planned for her birthday – I allowed myself to imagine what it might feel like to wake up on an ordinary summer morning as a 42 year old female MP with 2 small children and a dear husband still in bed. I hope this does not cause offence to anyone.
P.p.s. Jo Cox (née Leadbeater) was born on 22 June 1974. She was murdered on 16th June 2016. She doesn’t get to celebrate her birthday today.
P.p.p.s. This all comes at a volatile political and emotional time in the UK with the EU Referendum coming up tomorrow.
P.p.p.p.s. Hubby and I will raise a glass to Jo Cox on my birthday on Monday 27 June. May God comfort her family at this time.

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