Thursday, 21 May 2009

My Turn

From the moment my wife died, my son became the solid on which my life is based. An undiminished shining light in a suddenly darkened world.

He gave me focus, when I was unable to focus on anything else.

He gave me comfort and occupied me when I needed it most.

He gave me strength.

And so many more things, all rather unwittingly (I should cut him some slack, he was only seven months old).

In the immediate aftermath, still within the shock of having my whole world, and further plans within it, evaporate without a moments notice, Junior, by just being a being, one that could not comprehend what was going on, and therefore was uninfluenced by it, or changed his persona because of it, was a blessing.

An infinite one.

I did not shield him from the emotion that was going on around him, I wanted him to know I was accessible to him no matter what my state of mind. That seemed much more important, than worrying if bearing witness to the grieving process would do him any harm.

I was also mindful of ensuring that the practicality of who relied on whom, was still heavily weighted in his favour, as tradition expects. And by doing so, he inadvertently became a crutch for me, rather than that being his primary function.

At the beginning the nights were the most difficult times to deal with. The realisation that you are now on your own, practically reaffirmed by the lack of a person sharing a bed with you.

There is little else for the mind to focus on either, not that it would focus on a great deal in the day, but still.

Still, being a very poignant word.

For comfort I would take my boy to bed with me, my one conscious selfish act as a parent, to give me that little bit of comfort I needed to give me any realistic chance of getting some rest.

I do not remember how long that lasted for, a lot of that time is a blur, with details difficult to recall, not that I have a great desire to recall them anyway.

He went back into his cot, and I then slept in the same room, until eventually the previous status quo of each in our own rooms was re-established.

There have been occasions – plenty of them – when we have shared a bed since. Sometimes out of practicality, some out of care, when he’s been poorly, some as it helped the keeping the bed dry process, but not really any through grief.

But over the last few weeks my son has become increasingly aware of his loss, and has become more quizzical on the semantics, as he grapples to improve his level of understanding.

As he grieves.

It is tragically inspiring to listen and react to him, as he asks questions about his mom, how she died, how she is never coming back and how much he misses her.

He has a vastness about him, that I admire greatly, and expect to be dwarfed by as he gets older.

He plays out scenarios, talks about them, compares them to others, gets upset, gets consoled, but mostly amazes.

For all he has lost, it has given him a thirst for understanding and a choking ability to accept and appreciate. He has been cruelly forced to face his emotions, and been given a very early lesson in immortality that will hopefully bring benefits, as well as the obvious negatives, as he grows, both physically and spiritually.

Most of his difficulties seem to come at night. When he is nestling down after story time, then he can get a tad puzzled and distressed.

It is a huge thing to deal with, and I am very proud of how he does deal with it, and how I can play my part in that process.

And my part has been reassuring him, but not sugar-coating the realities, and on a couple of occasions taking him to my bed.

Giving him that little bit of extra comfort, so he can get the sleep he needs for tomorrow.

A tomorrow we shall share together, with smiles on our faces, and warmth in our broken hearts.

Share/Save/Bookmark

54 comments:

The Dotterel said...

So moving, Ian.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Nothing I can say really.

You've done a remarkable job so far, but you know that.

Strong writing.

Potty Mummy said...

Great post. Thank god you have each other.

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

Yesterday you made me snigger, today you make me want to weep, big fat tears.

Great post. I love reading your posts sniggery or weepy, I don't care.

SciFi Dad said...

Amazing post, sir, simply amazing.

I have probably said this before, but you are living every father's nightmare, and for that - let alone the wonderful job you're doing - earns you my respect and admiration.

Kerrie said...

Such profundity for one so small...(((((Max)))))

Big sigh...

Sending love...xoxo

mommasunshine said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. You two are so incredibly fortunate to have each other.

*hugs*

Badass Geek said...

Very thought-provoking.

Canadian Bald Guy said...

What a beautiful post. One day, your son will read this and be truly appreciative of the love that you've displayed for him.

Thumbelina said...

A beautiful, honest post. Everything you say is just right, because it is right for your boy and you. Well done. You are a model father. A model parent. Needs first. Emotional needs - his and yours.
Then the rest falls into place. Thanks for sharing such intimate times where you both grew and continue to grow.

Writer Dad said...

Dude, you're a great writer, able to deftly drift between laughter and tears. Please keep it up.

Roads said...

3 to 4 is the age when these questions really take off. I don't think there's anything to worry about here -- it's a part of finding out about the world and Max's place in it, as well as defining what makes him special from other children.

For a long time, when we went round to play with friends families, my son would call other mothers 'Mummy', simply because that's the name that the other children there would use.

As you can imagine, that was pretty distressing for all the adults there. But not for the kids. They just accepted it as how it was.

One day, that stopped -- marking the dawning of understanding of what had really happened. I can remember my son as being a little bit quieter and more thoughtful then. As indeed was I, and as you are now.

Well done with all you've achieved this far, and will continue to achieve. With all my best wishes and sympathy to you and Max.

Penelope said...

You have a wise head on your shoulders for such a young man Ian, and for once, I'm not teasing about the age thing!

Natika said...

My son still sleeps with me on the weekend (he's 9yrs). They grow up to fast and he is my baby.

Lisa said...

Thanks, Ian, for sharing this. I can't imagine how heart-breaking it is for you to know Max is grieving. Not just grieving a person, but the most important person to both of your lives. I can only imagine how strong, compassionate, and loving this will make Max when he's a grown man. A man that you will be proud of and so will your wife.

darcie said...

Wow ~ You are such a remarkable person and father. Children's grieving interests me very much as I was almost 3 when my mom passed away. I wasn't as lucky as your lil guy to have a dad - or anyone for that matter - carry on my mother's memory. I have no idea how I greived, I can only guess that I did.
Kudos to you for keeping on...

Anonymous said...

My daughter lost her father about the same age as your son. She was just turning one when he died on August 7, 2005. She hasn't yet been asking questions but I know she will soon and reading your blog has helped me to know what to do when the time comes. Thanks! See you on twitter! Sabina (sabina1971)

Liz@Violet Posy said...

Beautiful post. Everyone thinks children are too young to greive or understand but of course they do. Max is lucky to have such a brilliant Dad to guide him through it all.

Maternal Tales said...

So moving. You are an incredible Father...and in so being you have produced an incredible son. You are very lucky to have each other.

T said...

And this is the exact reason YOU are his father.

Beautiful, stunning examination of grief and how it affects us.

Thank you for sharing this, Ian. Hug that boy close.

ALMOST MRS AVERAGE said...

What a wonderful dad you are. I still sometimes have a moment at the bright old age of 40 over how I miss my father who I lost when I was young. It felt like a terrible dream that I would hope I would wake up from. But of course it's just his memory that lives on. I remember my questions and I also remember my mother's sorrow. I also remember wanting to make her feel better and being unable to. You and Max seem like a great team and I adore your ability to give your emotions over to the words that are necessary to help heal.

trouble said...

Beautiful post. I divorced four years ago, and I really think that, if not for my kids, I'd have gone plain flat bonkers. The grief was that bad (and so unexpected, because I was not happily married). My kids were the rock that I clung to.

Working mum said...

Evocative and emotional. Your son may have lost his mother, but he has an amazing father. I'm sure that you will encounter more times like these as he starts school and questions the differences in his family life compared to others, but I know that you will handle it with care and comapassion.

rosiescribble said...

Another powerful post SPD. He must grieve ofcourse but he has you to share the painful journey with. It's tough for both of you. I greatly admore the way you have handled this from the very start. You're amazing. Now I'm crying. Take care.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing that.

Mel said...

I really don't know what to say but you both have a vastness about you. Thank goodness he has you, it sounds like he will grow up with a wise head on his shoulders and an appreciation of the world that many take for granted. You are an inspiration to us all, as is your blog!

English Mum said...

I have a tear here for Max. Just one. It's one of those odd ones that kind of wells up but doesn't fall, just nestles in the corner of your eye. In all your meanderings I substitute my own kids for yours, and I can feel all the weight upon your shoulders sometimes. He's a lucky lad.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Ian you are amazing. I'm so glad you and Max have each other. It amazes me how much our children think about things, how deeply and how profoundly. Hugs to you both, and thank Bob for our kids and all they throw at us - except the lego.

P.S. Hope the silly was ok there, but you always make me smile so I wanted to pass one back. x

Not a soccer mom said...

Absolutely a wonderful pairing and you are both so lucky, despite the past, to have each other.

I agree with you, from what you have posted, he seems to be quite the little man. Points to you!

It kinda sucks that kids who have lived traumatic events tend to grow up so much faster.

Part Mummy Part Me said...

You are lovely. Max is lovely. I have tears running down my cheeks and a strong urge to give you both a hug.

Despite the underlying sadness of your circumstance (it really isn't fair), you two are doing fantastically. There is so much love, and honesty, and happiness. I bet she's proud of you both xx

Rebel Mother said...

XX

Rage Against The Dying of the Light said...

I have just found this blog, and this is an amazing post. As a father of a 3 year old, I can only imagine having to deal with the things you write about in this post. Very poignant.

Your son is going to have more emotional intelligence at age 5 than most people have at age 25. Good luck to you both.

Noble Savage said...

In tears here. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.

Momo Fali said...

You're proud of him? I'm proud of YOU. Of both of you. This journey you are on together...it is no small feat.

Susan said...

Ian, you both should be proud, as others have said; you've faced a tremendous loss.

It's apparent to someone like me who only knows you through your writing that you are raising your son to be a kind, thoughtful boy. I admire you for not sugar-coating the answers, but being able to help someone else understand just how special your wife was and what happened while going through your own grief.

Hugs to you both.

Kori said...

You do SO much for your son; I have seen it time and time again. However, this gift of being able to and allowed to process through his emotions in such a loving environment is the biggest gift thus far. You are doing and have done such a great job that I am in awe of you every single day.

Melissa said...

I can't imagine what this must be like for you but you're doing a fine job of trying to put it into words.

A Modern Mother said...

Beautiful post. He's so lucky to have you.

Tismee2 said...

You two will be a force to reckon with in the future, Samantha will be so proud of you both.

penelopedarcy said...

this is so touching.. i'm sorry for your lost, but you have gained so much as well.. be proud and continue being the greatest dad to your son. you both deserve it.

amy said...

so moving, i think you are doing a wonderful job and i hope that if anything ever happened to me my husband would be as strong as you xx

Single Mom Seeking said...

In tears. You're such an incredible Dad. Good for you for giving him the space to grieve.

My daughter slept with me for the first few years, and she still climbs into my bed sometimes. This really resonated with me.

Jackie said...

I loved this, Ian. I do find that these tough times are always more painful because we don't have someone else there to hold them when we don't have the energy to explain or the strength to relive it all again for them.
Jackie

Ms. Single Mama said...

Wow.

That's all I can say - just wow. So heartbreaking and so inspiring at the same time. She would be so proud of you two.

Exmoorjane said...

Bloody hell, Ian....this caught me unawares and confess to having tears rolling down my cheeks reading it. Janex

Jenn said...

Here via SingleMomSeeking; my first visit; which left me both heart-broken and hopeful.

Your strength and unabashed love shine through the perceived cracks so brightly that I'm sure it will be of great comfort to your son as he tries to grapple with what never was.

Those gaping holes can be hard to fill and easy to imagine perfected "if only"; having a man like you as a father will undoubtedly show him how all of this thing called life, the good and the crushing, can be absolutely amazing.

Aching for you right now, across these miles and wishing you comfort and peace in your journey.

Simon said...

I don't think I've ever cried while reading a blog post before.

I'm about to become a dad myself, the worries are huge and the emotions are close to the surface. But if I'm 1% of the dad you are, I'll count myself blessed.

UDH Boy said...

What a brilliantly moving piece of writing.
I just took the liberty of reading it aloud to my wife (she's previously wondered what the Single Parent Dad thing is I have mentioned) and we were both welling up at the end!
The number of comments here alone tell you how many people care about you and think you do a fantastic job with Max and your writing. Blogs like yours and the community that follow them make me glad the t'internet was invented :)

Blues said...

Absolutely beautiful.

I don´t know how I came across this blog, but it is a real treat and I thank you for sharing this.

I´ll definitely be back for more.

Dan said...

I forgot to mention this at the time, but this was beautiful written.

I shall contain my jealous outbursts about how many comments you got for a more suitable time.

crunchiemummy said...

I've just come to your blog via Rosie Scribble an dhave to say that was so beautifully written. I'm moved me to tears. Thanks for sharing your story.

Solo-Dad said...

In the early days of my solo-dad journey, LE and I shared the king size bed. He always snuggled so close and I still recall the tenderness of those emotional days and nights.

You're a hero in so many ways, not the least of which is to Max. And he will come to realize it if he hasn't already.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Wow, so poised, so sad. So brave to write it...
Pigx

Daddydal said...

Wow, just read this and it is so inspiring.
Wow. Mere words can't do this justice.

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin