A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
I’m closing this week with a little sense of pride and achievement. It’s hard to feel any truly positive emotions right now, but when they are driven by the happiness of my bereaved child then I will allow myself the tiniest respite from negativity, self-loathing and misery.
My son has all but rejected female company since the death of his mum. He’s played happily with husbands but then bitten their wives. He’s giggled with his friends’ dads and then barked at their mums. In the park he’s turned from a delightful little boy into a wild child at the sound of the word ‘mummy’ falling innocently from other toddlers’ lips.
So I’ve pulled back. I’ve limited the flow of human traffic through our door. I’ve thanked people for their kind offers but put plans off for some unspecified time in the future. I’ve tried my hardest to re-establish previously strong relationships that my son had with grown-ups, which seemed to lay in tatters in the weeks that followed my wife’s all-too-sudden death. And I haven’t really put him in front of anyone new. What’s more, I can’t really imagine that I will until he seems comfortable with the life he once knew again.
So I feel proud because the approach seems to be paying off. I’ve seen him hold my his mummy’s friends’ hands this week. I’ve watched him play with them and smile. I’ve heard them laugh together in the other room.
But the pride I suddenly feel is not for myself. It’s for my son for learning to understand why his mum trusted and loved these girls so much. And it’s for those same girls for having the patience and energy to persevere with his challenging behaviour towards them when they are inevitably at their weakest. When all they wanted was for the closest being on Earth to their lost friend Desreen to love them back.
It’s been a difficult path to travel and I imagine this slightly smoother track may be just a brief interruption to a yet more trying road ahead. But I know that we’re on this journey together and that my wife bequeathed me and my son something in invisible ink within her non-existent will. Friends. The very best kind too. The sort that understand that true friendship survives beyond death. And the sort that will honour that friendship for the rest of their days by bestowing and devoting it to their best friend’s child.