Monday, 28 July 2008

Little, And Giant, Stars

Simply put, over recent weeks and months I think my son’s grieving process, for his mother, has actually started.

I always knew, or anticipated, his grief would be delayed. I mean, seven month olds don’t really miss anything but their food or backsides being wiped.

He’s been an oblivious rock for me, particularly immediately after Sam’s untimely death, he still is today, although he’s become canny enough to know it now.

But at this point, it really is my turn to try and return that very sad favour.

Samantha has always been a part of our lives.

I’ve tried to include her, subtly, around the home and in what we get up to.

We make her things at playgroups and at home.

There are pictures around of us all together, and plenty of my beautiful wife looking, well, beautiful.

And there are stories that go along with each of these photos.

Like – that’s mommy mauling puppies at the rabbit farm you like so much.

I’ve also named a star after Max’s mommy.

We have a lovely framed certificate, which is awaiting hanging in my child’s funky new room.

It’s there to look over him, and us, much as the actual star is.

A top cyber friend pointed me in the direction of another young widower, and one of his brilliant posts has actually got me revisiting ways of getting my son to know his mother, without it being too laboured to tiresome.

Anyway, when talking to my inquisitive son about where his mother actually is, I’ve tried not to shy from the truth.

She died son.

But she gave you a very good start, and will always be part of you. You keep her in your heart and head, and if you ever want to see or talk to her, just close your eyes and think about her or what you want to tell her, she’ll be right there, with you, always.

This has upset him recently, but as a positive, I believe it is demonstrating his growing understanding. Something he was struggling with only a few weeks ago.

I think I’d only actually managed to teach him pigeon fashion that his mommy was in his heart, but he didn’t really get what that sentiment meant.

Kids around us also get very interested in, and a few have asked about max’s mom.

Sometimes to their own parents, sometimes to me, and tonight, for the first time within my ear-shot, directly to my son.

We were visiting some of our new village chums. They have children who also go to the same nursery as my little treasure.

Their delightful daughter must have got sick of seeing me, and thus decided to enquire if there may be a better option.

“Where’s your mommy Max?” Came the high-pitched question, which brought about at least two sharp intakes of breath amongst the parents in the room.

“She died, but she’s still part of me, and I keep her in here,” said my ever-so proud little star while pointing to where his heart should be.

In front of his ever-so proud dad.

And two exhaling, somewhat relieved, others. Share/Save/Bookmark


Penelope said...

You have every right to be incredibly proud of him! What a perfect answer. :o)

Violet said...

That made my eyes go all watery.

Single Parent Dad said...

Penelope - I know it is incredibly sad, but I'm just glad he's started to show an understanding. I think it will hope learn to live with it.

Violet - Mine went a bit moist when I was typing it.

The Dotterel said...

He sounds as if he's already starting to get things straight in his head - it's his heart that will take time to follow. Kids reasoning is so much better than they're ever given credit for, but their emotions are like delicate flowers.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Okay, you are now on my official 'do not read at work' list.

Heartbreaking and beautiful all at once.

(p.s. Matt's blog & story is incredible, I have nothing but huge respect for both of you)

Single Parent Dad said...

Dotterel - I agree, I'm just glad he's started to get it straight. I'm sure it will be a big pull on his emotions, but I think in some ways it will force him to be more enlightened and maybe be more in touch with himself in the future.

Xbox - My apologies, will have to carry warnings with my emotional blurts. Thanks for your comments.

jenns1125 said...

Aw. Nothing I can say. This just one of life's moments. It is really awesome that you tell him she's in him. That's wonderful.

BTW, you don't look 30! You look 20. I found you through Matt, Liz, and Madeline.

Single Parent Dad said...

Jenns1125 - Welcome. Glad you found your way here.

It's true I see so much of his mother in him, it is tragically beautiful.

I was actually 29 on that photo, and now I'm 31. I need to update that! I still have to carry my ID to get bottles of plonk in Asda/Walmart.

Tismee2 said...

My eyes watered too and now I can't drink my coffee because of the lump in my throat.

Bet there was a proud Mummy up there looking down too.


Single Parent Dad said...

Tismee - The coffee will only keep you up! Thanks for your comment.

Crash Course Widow said...

Hi Ian. Glad to "meet" you and find your blog. Came across you from Matt's blog.

I'm also widowed, and now 30 yrs old. My husband died 3 years ago, in a bicycle crash, when our daughter was 10 months old. I've only read this first post (but look forward to catching up on the archives over time), but I can hear my daughter's voice and growing awareness echoing in Max's.

Anna's version of the story, and what she'll pipe up with given the opportunity: "My daddy died. He cwashed into a po'." (Or sometimes it's just "my daddy who cwashed into a po'.") And I'm ever so proud, and also ever so holding my breath, when she does this.

It'll be interesting to see how her grief and awareness of Charley's death changes over time. It was only last summer, at the 2-year death anniversary, about 2 months before she turned 3, that she started to get it and started to talk about it occasionally.

I have a blog too, and if you want to check out my blog, feel free:
(I also started a second one just for fun, if you're feeling like a glutton: I've gotten hooked on blogging but wanted something more separate from the official grief blog.)

Again, nice to meet you!

Renee said...

That's the most beautiful story I have ever heard. I'm Liz's cousin and that is my most sincere wish for Maddy - that when she's old enough to talk and questions like, "where's your mommy?" come up on the playground that she'll have Liz's love in her heart and proudly state, "she's right here in my heart, she's with me always." You've obviously done an amazing job with your son.

Chuck said...

Dan over at "all that comes with it" pointed me in your direction some time ago.

You've every reason to be proud of that boy of yours. Raising him to be a fine young man you are. Kudos to you for finding the right words and sharing them with him. - All the best.

Julia HH said...

Hi Ian,

I have been following your blog for a while, found it through

This also made me choke almost. My daughter is 2.5 and was only five months old when my husband Terry died. She is just beginning to ask questions and I dread it because don't feel strong enough to answer. Plus she is bi-lingual, so will have to explain in Russian as well.

You are doing such a great job with Max. I may have to borrow some of your wisdom.

Take care.


Single Parent Dad said...

CCW - Nice to make your acquaintance too. I'm also glad to hear of the sad similarities in our children, and I totally get the holding your breath thing. I worry more how others will react to him i.e. The parents blart and the kids just looked confused. I will be over to your blog or blogs, I look forward to reading them.

Single Parent Dad said...

Hi Renee, nice to see you on here, and thank you for your very sincere and kind comments. I'm sure your lovely Maddy will follow suit, after all, it is only the truth.

Single Parent Dad said...

Thanks Chuck, (blimey I sound like Cilla Black if you even know who that is!) glad you found your way here from Dan's top-notch blog. The words just came, but having read them back a few times, I think I would struggle for better.

Single Parent Dad said...

Hi Julia, welcome to my blog, and thanks for your comments.

I know how hard it is. The questions are hard, and when I'd been telling Max his mother was in his heart he would say things like, "but she never comes out daddy." Heartbreaking, but our lives, sadly. If you can talk through the tears, I would say - but she does come out in all that you do, ok it would confuse him to hell, but now, just now, I think he is getting it.

And lastly, if you're having to borrow my wisdom many would tell you that you are in big, big, trouble!

Sandra said...

OMG,out of the mouths of babes!

That is so honest,beautiful and heartwrenching at the same time.

Brought tears to my eyes and now, haha, my four year old has asked me "Why is your head leaking, Mummy?"

Like xbox said - I have huge respect for the incredible job you are doing with wee Max.

Single Parent Dad said...

Hi Sandra, head leaking - quality. Thanks for your comment, but I'm really only doing what I should.

Hawkfeather said...

yup add me to the 'tears' list..
*but* i am sure they are happy tears- bittersweet in a way- but still happy.

happy for a little guy who expresses himself the way i wish adults could.

My daughter is close in age to Max- and I know she just started to understand that she was once a part of me- in that I carried her in my body. I know I am ever thankful for the little explorers taking me through life with newly open eyes- to finally absorb my surroundings.

As he grows i am sure he will experience a wide range of emotions for his mother.

I know I started reading matt's blog because as a mother I can feel how deeply- almost violently *I* love my children-
and I don't know-
I guess Little one's who are missing their mother's in life, I want them to know 'somehow' that they to were the most important person in the universe for someone.

That I *know* with all of my heart that their mother loved them in a way that can never go away- because it is just too big.

Sol from Argentina said...

Came across you also from Matt's blog.
Even you had to face the most terrible and sad situation of losing a beloved is AMAZINGLY beautiful and heartbreaking to see/read how GRATEFUL you are dealing with such a situation
Congratulations! you are doing a GREAT JOB with your little boy.
Keep on doing
Have a nice day
Take care
Sol from Argentina

p.s. Sorry about my could be WORST! ;)

Roads said...

That's some relief. Not because it's easy to hear this stuff - it's absolutely not, and of course I understand that too - but because now at least you know.

You know how Max will handle this, when you're not around.

My kids had to deal with these same questions which broke my heart, just like yours breaks now.

But it was the times when I wouldn't be there to pick up the pieces which frightened me. Because it was bound to happen, loads of times. Would they be able to cope?

Well, they did. And the remarkable thing is that their situation was simply normal for them, and they took it in their stride.

And now you know that so will Max. That's the relief.

Single Parent Dad said...

Hawkfeather - Thanks for your comment, and I agree that love will, or could never, diminish.

Single Parent Dad said...

Ola Sol, and welcome. Apologies for your english, pah, it's fantastic compared to my spanish. Thanks for your kind words

Single Parent Dad said...

Cheers Roads, I agree. It's always going to be heartbreaking, but that can't be changed. I'm just glad he seems to be getting an understanding for what's happened, enabling his grieving I suppose.

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