Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

parental guidance

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

In Jackson’s second post, he shares with us what he really (maybe) means when he throws himself on the floor in tears at soft play and claims that he’s only upset because he wants some raisins. As ever, his writing comes with a ‘parental guidance’ warning. His first guest post can be viewed by clicking here.

I’ve just been to one of my favourite places, Peckham Pulse soft play, with a little mate and three olds. It’s off the hook this place. Ball pool, big slide, shaky bridge, bare tunnels, the lot. There’s usually some fella in the corner who thinks he’s the shizzle too, dishing out all these rules that none of us listen to but it must have been his day off today so we let rip and proper had it.

Anyway, I’m gonna rewind a bit otherwise you lot just ain’t gonna get it. I’ve been having some serious woman trouble lately. Like, I’m handsome and that and I’ve got all these girls putting their names down already, but it ain’t that kind of trouble. I just don’t like them much right now, especially when they go anywhere near my dad. I’m like, ‘Back off bitch! Mummy would slap you down if you came anywhere near her man.’ I’m kind of just doing her work for her now that she’s gone.

And here’s the thing. This is why I need to get some of this shit off my chest today. I think I know she’s gone. I haven’t seen her for ages and I keep repeating back what my daddy says to me about how she didn’t want to leave me but that she can’t ever come back, but something keeps confusing me. I keep thinking she’s still here, that I’ve just seen her in the street or in the park or wherever.

As I was saying a minute ago, at the moment most chicks that I see get a big fat ‘whatever’ from me, which often manifests itself as a filthy look, a massive raspberry or a repartee that sounds elegant and articulate in my head but that usually comes out more like, ‘Ubbubbubbaabah, THOMAS, PERCY, HENRY, RAAAAAR!’ But then I see a lady who looks a bit like my mum and I’m charm personified. I’m thrown.

So I’m down the Pulse today and this woman goes to give me a hand over an obstacle that was just too high for me. She had black skin, just like Mummy’s. She wore her hair the same way as Mummy did around July of last year. I think she was French and maybe a bit taller than my mum but it’s always hard to know from down here. She was daft and funny too, not scared to make a fool of herself to make kids laugh. The only real striking difference was that this lady seemed a lot more comfortable showing her legs. Weird, because I always thought my mum’s were lovely.

So there we are playing and I’m holding her hand, happy in unfamiliar female company for the first time in months and I felt like what I’ve been missing so much was back. But I only felt like that for a minute. I might be small but I’m not stupid. I know my mum when I see her but grief can really fuck with your head. It was like happiness one minute then crushing sadness the next. I’ve got stuff to play with everywhere, free run of the place and yet there I am floored, in tears, confused.

“What’s wrong, Jackson?” asked Daddy, although he obviously already knew, I could tell by the look on his face. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No Daddy!” I shouted, lying face down on the floor in tears.

He gave me some space for a minute or two and then came back and asked me again.

Now give me an online forum like this, a MacBook Pro and the time to think my thoughts through and I can really hold my own. But ask me on the spot and I fall to pieces.

“Want some raisins, Daddy”, I replied mid-sob.

He didn’t buy that response any more than I meant it. Like he’s dumb enough to think that fucking dried grapes are going to make me feel better when I’ve barely eaten a piece of fruit since I was born.

10 comments on “parental guidance

  1. laurabwilliamsdesigns
    March 7, 2013

    Grief for me has always been in the little moments. I told a friend of mine that my son’s father would probably be surprised at what makes us feel him the most now that he is gone. His Key Lime pies, the way he looked over his glasses when he was angry or trying to make a point, the fact that he thought gravity did not apply to him which allowed him believe that if he set a glass down on any surface at any angle that it would remain upright ( this theory of his met with continual failure). And the song “Pirate at 40” by Jimmy Buffet. It’s the little things that makes grief big.
    I follow your life with your son because we are on the same road and it helps tremendously to know there are others feeling the same things we feel.
    Blessings for you both.

  2. Vicky Baruch
    March 7, 2013

    Best star guest by far and boy does he get it………..

  3. Lucille
    March 7, 2013

    Jackson….you’re going to be a fantastic writer someday….keep on it!

  4. Jerry R.
    March 7, 2013

    I have enjoyed reading your posts. My wife of almost 8 years passed away on January 23rd of this year. She had a cold, and a fever, the ER released her on Tuesday night after getting her fever down, I put her to bed and she never woke up. We had a little 5 year old together and I have an 19 year old stepson. It is very hard adjusting to life now, we had plans, vacations, places we wanted to see together, now my house is quiet, and just being there while make me feel good to see her pictures and her stuff, its also very hard at the same time. We have a Christian faith, my little one has been in church since he was born and he believes as I do without any doubt where his mommy is, which makes things easier. I came back to work after a month because I thought it would be good for me, but as I sit here writing this at work, I am realizing that I probably came back to soon. Thank you sharing your thoughts like this, I look forward to reading your posts each day. I have spent a lot of time searching and reading experiences of other widows, but yours have been somewhat encouraging. I don’t know if you had the same experience but I have to say one of the hardest things I noticed is that after all of family leaves, and the services are over, life just seems to move on around you, and for me, I didn’t want it to, I just wanted time to stop, but it doesn’t, and that is hard. Sorry to use your blog to tell my story, it felt nice to share.

    • Paul R
      March 9, 2013

      So sorry to read of your so recent loss. Wishes of patience and courage.

      If you are a reader I’d recommend Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander. I don’t agree with the title, but as a Christian I would have called it Reassurance of Heaven.

      This isn’t a book I recommend to everyone, but if you believe that there is something after death, then I think it is well worth reading.

  5. Tina B.
    March 7, 2013

    Hi there:) Have been following everything with you from day one. I’m Grant M.’s american cousin. You might know, but if not, I lost my mum when I was 12. My brother was 10. One day when I was oh, I don’t know, about 32, I was out and about in sunny Chicago. It was a beautiful May spring day. Not a cloud in the sky, perfect degree of warmth with no humidity. My husband was getting his MBA at the time and I was on the hunt (pre-kids of course) for the makings of a perfect meal. Spent the whole day doing it. Farmers market, etc. Found it all including the wine. Was having what I thought was really the most perfect day. You know the one where you are humming to yourself and taking wonder in all the world. (Look at these most perfect tomatoes!!) So, I get home and find that our gas grill (located on the second floor of our place) was out of gas. Whilst normally this would encourage a string of nasty words from me, this day I take it in stride and go to Home Depot to get the re-fill. Lugging it down the stairs and into the trunk of my car. I buy the goods and then am thrilled when the cashier says to pull my car around….someone will help me. I couldn’t have had a bigger smile on my face. Happy happy happy. I pull up and a lovely gent puts the heavy tank in the car for me. He is mouthing something to me that I can’t understand, so I roll down my car window. “Happy Mother’s Day” he says. I lose it. Entirely. Sobbing, shaking. Can’t drive my car away. It was that fast. ( That poor, poor man!!!) It will never go away, but I am so indebted to all of my family and friends that keep her memory alive and continue to make me know her better (now as an adult). I think of you and Jackson often and send you all my love.

  6. Claire bear
    March 7, 2013

    Great post Ben’s so good and important that you can recognise Jackson’s
    ” moments” for what they are, grief comes in waves mostly a big fat tidal one. Your blog has helped me so much I feel bad for being on here as I have not lost my husband but I have lost my Son, Dad, and brother in law. My son passed in 2005 brother in law 2008 and my dad in 2010. I am not the same happy go lucky person I once was I have never been able to get back to (normal) and until your blog I now understand why! It’s because the grief stays with us and shapes us, it takes all our innocence and security away, one min everything is fine then boom your world is turned on its head, never to be the same, and I find that really hard I dread anyone asking how are you or how is everything …my reasons for dreading are.. Firstly I feel guilty and like a liar for saying fine secondly scared to say everything is fine in case something else happens It like when everything seems to be as ok as it can, there is something waiting to happen my example is my sons birthday we are driving back from a fab day in Blackpool and I get a call from police to say my dad had been found dead in the house we were half hour away from collecting him for dinner. I know it may sound so harsh but I find it hard to really enjoy the good occasions for fear of what can happen or is it guilt? I know we can’t stop what may happen its just hard to logically understand how quick life can change in a blink of an eye. This blog you have started is fantastic if thats ok to say?…its a bit random but I have never felt more normal as I know the feelings and thoughts are all felt because of the grief and love we have for those no longer here, but until you have lost no one understands the emotions you go through they can only empathise so until reading this everyday and other comments i thought i was going a bit fruity so… Thank you and to all who post for making me realise I am not. :/ x x x

    P.s like Gerry sorry for hogging the space and going on too long. Gerry I understand your comment about work and returning to normal too. Take care

  7. zainab
    March 8, 2013

    he is so beautiful, it’s so heartbreaking to see such a beautiful creature sad, confused and dealing with something so big at the beginning of his life … i do admire what you’re doing here, keep writing..

  8. Pingback: star guest | life as a widower

  9. Pingback: playing happy | life as a widower

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