A story of grief by a man and a boy
On 22nd December 2012, my son drew this picture on an envelope with a ballpoint pen.
“What’s that, darling?” I asked.
“It Mummy”, he replied.
‘Then it’s a keeper’, I thought to myself.
One day soon we’ll put it in a frame and he’ll always know how she never left his mind in the weeks after she was killed.
It’ll be four months tomorrow since his mummy, my wife, was taken from us so suddenly. Two months ago I imagined that the passing of four months would have changed me more than it has. That time would bring peace and that my mind would sometimes distract itself from the denial, the loneliness, the reflection, the suffering and the shear disbelief that I would never see my wife again. I probably thought that I’d be working my way through a sequence of grief and that I’d be able to pinpoint where I was on the journey from denial to acceptance. But I can’t. And I can’t be expected too either, because that’s just not how grief is.
So when I woke up this morning I saw this picture in my head.
‘Yes’, I thought, ‘it depicts my son’s mummy if he says it does, but it also shows what was going on in his head at the time’.
And it’s what’s going on in mine right now as well.
Two and a half months after he committed his thoughts to paper, I’ve just realised that he’d handed me the most perceptive model of the grief cycle that I have seen to date. A random series of lines and circles with a total lack of structure and uniformity. Strokes that jump from here to there and then back again. A little open space that suddenly reaches a spaghetti junction that has never been mapped. A portrait that shows both beauty and pain. A course that, today more than any other time in the last four months, leaves me here unable to absorb our loss or accept that the person who should be lying next to me now will never lie next to me again.