Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

my son

This is a very special guest post by my two-year-old son, Jackson Bo Brooks-Dutton

Toddler, train enthusiast and part time nursery attendee, Jackson Bo Brooks-Dutton, shares his thoughts on his behaviour since his mother was tragically killed in November 2012 in a open letter to his father. Like every child of his age, his dad believes him to be an exceptionally gifted and extremely advanced pre-schooler. However, it probably goes without saying that this post is entirely made up because, as yet, Jackson doesn’t know if the book he is ‘reading’ is upside down or not. This is an interpretation of his behaviour from his point of view. I feel I must warn you, he swears like a trooper. His daddy did when he was young though too. I blame the parents. 

Dear Daddy,

I feel like I need you to see things from my point of view because you’re giving yourself a very hard time. Good at spelling, aren’t I?

I’m going to keep this brief because I get bored really easily and although I said I don’t like Thomas the Tank Engine anymore when we left the house this morning, I’ve changed my mind and he’s all I can think about right now. Frankly, I also find writing letters a real bore and I don’t understand why this archaic laptop has keys when I prefer to touch type directly onto the screen with sugary yoghurt on my fingers. But I love you, Daddy, so I’ll persevere. Big word for such a little guy, n’est pas? Oh yeah, they make kids’ TV shows that teach you French and Spanish now. Oh and Patois too if you include Rastamouse, man.

Where was I? Oh aye, three things happened last week that I think I ought to explain from my perspective because they seem to be crushing you up and I need you to be in a better state of mind to build my train tracks. I might be able to write well, but those bloody bridges get me every time. 

Incident one:

Daddy, last week you took me ‘on holiday’ to the Canaries when I was really ill. I had a huge fever, you pumped me full of drugs and I think you probably wanted to ‘be on form’. Well let me tell you something, man flu starts young and I had it. You grown-ups think Calpol is the answer to everything but we only take it off you because it tastes like Haribo. If it actually worked that well, then why the fuck don’t you take it when you get ill? Are you with me?

So there we are sharing a sun lounger, recently bereaved of the one person who meant most to us in the whole wide world and you reckon a swimming pool and a scoop of ice cream is going to sort it. Did it make you feel any better? That’s what I thought. 

I’m not trying to make you feel bad for taking me, quite the opposite in fact. I thought you really made an effort and you barely left my side. But that’s my point. I needed you last week, not a holiday. And on reflection I think you did a pretty good job at putting me first, so please don’t beat yourself up. Let’s just move on. We’re both home now and we’re closer than ever, so take a chill pill. 

Incident two:

While we were away I heard you sniff. It’s a filthy habit and had I known you didn’t have a hanky I would have reprimanded you but, more fool me, I thought you were crying. So I ran across the room and asked, “Ooo okay, Daddy?” (God knows why I write so well but can’t even pronounce ‘you’, but you’re one to talk, you had a lisp until you were five). I also offered you a plantain chip to comfort you because I know from previous experience dummies aren’t really your thing. While we’re on the matter that bitch doctor from A&E can kiss my tiny ass if she thinks I’m giving her one of my plantain chips. Bloody nerve of the woman (see previous post). I did this because I want to look after you too, Daddy. We’re both crushed by what’s happened but we really need to support one another. You looked genuinely shocked that a child could be so sensitive, but I love you man and I’ve got your back. That’s how toddlers roll these days. We’re not as dumb as we are small. 

Incident three:

So I had you covered when I thought you were blubbing in the villa but then you got all like ‘Oh God, I mustn’t cry in front of Jackson anymore’ at the airport when I behaved in a completely different way. 

So you thought it was a good idea for us to get a night flight because I’d probably nod off. Well for once you predicted my sleep patterns correctly and for that you must be rewarded. I’ve a plantain chip with your name on it but if you share it with Dr. Bitchface, it’ll be your last. But what you failed to realise is that toddlers don’t react too well to being woken up from a night flight at 1am. What they like even less is when the taxi that is meant to pick them up at 2am fails to arrive. Don’t get me started on that taxi firm, but rest assured we will take them down, Daddy. What a toddler likes even less again is when the next taxi firm turns up with a baby seat and not a child seat. I can’t fit into one of those anymore, so when you told the taxi driver who suggested he just “drive slowly” leaving my life at risk just three months after my mummy was killed by a car, I think you were right to tell the punk to go and fuck himself. 

However, what a toddler likes even less than all of those things put together is to see his father so upset at nearly 4am. That broke me and while you called a friend and asked for help, my verbal vocabulary doesn’t stretch that far yet (which is weird because I type like a demon), so I had to show my feelings.

So yes, I threw my dummies on the floor (I like to have at least three to hand, especially when upset because one alone doesn’t have the same effect). Yes, I removed my shoes and through them out too. Yes, I screamed the place down. But it’s not because you cried, I’m totally down with the tears dude, it’s because I was fucking knackered, you pushed me too hard and every other fucker seemed to have it in for us that night.

But have you noticed I how well I’ve behaved since we’ve been home? And have you realised that we’ve actually both laughed a few times too. Also, have you noticed how I keep asking you for a cuddle because you’re my main man and I need you so much right now?

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how I see it all and say I love you, Daddy. We both know Mummy was the best, but you’re doing alright so don’t be so hard on yourself. We’ll get there.

Love,

J-Bo xx

30 comments on “my son

  1. Jenny W
    February 12, 2013

    Well done, its difficult with a young child on holiday when there are two parents,keep smiling

  2. Ana D., USA
    February 12, 2013

    J-Bo has it pretty much down for a 2 year old! Loving his use of well placed f-bombs too. Hang in there – both of you.

  3. Sally Hipwell
    February 12, 2013

    Very articulate for 2! Well done Jackson.

  4. Paula
    February 12, 2013

    On your 365 post you should launch a book – it will be a best seller. You are a great example and a huge inspiration. Thank you Ben and Jackson. xx

  5. darkeyes85
    February 12, 2013

    Hilariously sweet. I agree with Paula, publishing a book sounds great…I would buy it (and read). X

  6. Naomi
    February 12, 2013

    Jackson ROCKS! awesome kid, awesome daddy. don’t ever doubt it.

  7. V
    February 12, 2013

    Ben….. Again loooool. I laughed so much. I realise what it is. Its the swear words. I find you use them hilariously to make a point. This blog for me is the most touching i have read. You are so in sync with Jackson it is adorable. To know his emotions and thoughts is truly a gift. Be sure to know he does love you, he does appreciate you, you are his World. He has your back because as he says thats how ya’ll roll. Desreen would be so proud of her men she lives on in you both. Be blessed. X

  8. Deborah Ripley
    February 12, 2013

    Absolutely brilliant. And broke me up at the same time.

  9. Greg
    February 12, 2013

    That was amazing Ben (sorry, Jackson), and very moving.

  10. sarah.g
    February 12, 2013

    A fab blog Ben! I agree with the book publishing, how funny this was and also at the same time brought a tear to my eye. You are rocking this. Your little side-kick knows it too

  11. Ana
    February 12, 2013

    i cant stop smiling after reading this, so sweet x

  12. Ben Wye
    February 12, 2013

    What a great post Jackson, you really remind us all what is really important, thank you
    Great Uncle Ben

  13. Annie
    February 12, 2013

    If it helps you to write then please keep writing such moving prose as long as you can. My life isn’t yours but it’s unhappy in other ways which I can’t yet see a way out of – painful illness and isolation – and your blogs lift me each time I read.

  14. Stephanie S
    February 12, 2013

    Thanks so much for these posts. I hope you know you have a community out here who cares.

  15. Ana S
    February 12, 2013

    I’ve been reading your blog since hearing you on Vanessa’s show. You are such a wonderful dad & are so in tune with your & your son’s feelings it is nothing short of amazing. I wish for peace and happiness to gradually come back into your lives one day. Thank you for helping others learn how to live with their grief.

  16. Lucille
    February 12, 2013

    Very cute!

  17. 1000kmstowindermere
    February 12, 2013

    “but I love you man and I’ve got your back” sums it up perfectly. Trust him to sort himself out through all of this as long as you are able to let him. And let him help you as he won’t know why, but he’ll want to.
    Great post again. Keep going.

  18. lesley
    February 13, 2013

    Another amazing post Ben.i look forward to reading them everyday.you are helping so many people by sharing how you and Jackson are feeling.and I truly hope it helps you to write down your feelings and experiences.i would also buy your book x

  19. charlotte clarke
    February 13, 2013

    your son is so so sweet, its amazing how much kids pick up on, ive been crying before and my 18mth old twins will come and lay their heads on my lap. i know everyday is a struggle but im so glad you have each other to look after, your wife would be immensely proud of both of you…..im thinking that the first time of doing things without your wife must be extra hard too so thats the first holiday done at least and sounds like you coped well! heres to future holidays with jackson when hes noisy and running about and feeling better x

  20. Naomii Chaplain
    February 14, 2013

    I am loving the fire in J-Bo’s belly. He sounds a smart and protective little soul

  21. lesley finch
    February 14, 2013

    your an inspiration to all those parents out there i lost my husband suddenly 7 mths ago we have a 9 year old that was the hardest thing i ever had to do telling him that his dad had died my son lifts me up every single day . keep up the good work.

  22. marymshenouda
    February 14, 2013

    I keep reading everything you write and only imagine the challenge of finding the words to say! I blab and then go back and read and think “wow, what brain was it that dropped out all these strange phrases?” Yes, some days are more horrible since my beloved husband departed 6 weeks ago.
    My heart goes out for you, but I still hope you’re blessed to have a piece of your wife around: me and my husband never made it to the children part.

  23. leticia
    February 14, 2013

    having lost my dad and two sisters in a car crash at the age of six i really do understand what youre going through and youre your such a brave man to talk about it because am now 27yrs and i have never want to make a topic over it. let baby Bo be your shoulder to lean on and the reason to keep you going because my mum lost it and i always left alone and unloved as child though we got closer as i grew up but alot missed out.

  24. Kevin Jacobs
    February 15, 2013

    I worked for three years at my local hospice. I saw a 30 year old male whose wife died of breast cancer. They had a 3 year old daughter and he found things very difficult. He came to see me for bereavement counselling for over a year. Remember you own your grief and no one else should tell you how you should be feeling. Grief is a very individual thing. I hope that you continue to get support as you need it. I am always here if you need to talk to some one else. Just email me and i will contact you as soon as i can. Good luck to you and your son. I have been counselling for over 25 years and am here for you at this difficult time.

  25. Tasha
    February 15, 2013

    Ben, I am a family friend of Victoria’s and I have been hooked by your blog and taken on your emotional journey. So many posts I have read and wanted to comment on, but not having experienced grief such as yours didn’t feel my comments would be worthy. But oh how I just laughed out loud and cried when I read this post. You’re such an articulate, insightful, thought provoking and entertaining writer. I’ll be voting for you in the mad blog awards.

  26. biddy1958
    February 20, 2013

    How did I miss this one? So lovely! No offence- but your tiny Star Guest is already my favourite and I eagerly await his next contribution! Much love to you both XXX

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