A story of grief by a man and a boy

tough question

On Friday my son woke several times in the night riddled with a fever brought on from chicken pox. However hard I tried, I couldn’t get him to swallow the medicine he needed to bring his temperature down.

And as if the experience of caring for a sick toddler isn’t testing enough at the best of times, spots were gradually erupting all over my body too. Worse still I was also suddenly drawn back to the most devastating night of my life.

As he writhed and wriggled around the bed he repeatedly screamed a question I’d heard so many times before.

“What am I gonna do?”

He sounded pained. He sounded desperate. He sounded shocked, confused and anxious. He sounded like an adult. He sounded like me the night his mother was killed.

And he was asking exactly the same question too.

11 comments on “tough question

  1. Deborah Ripley
    May 5, 2013

    You guys have had it tougher than anyone ever should. There’s no doubt. That’s all I’m saying. No clever platitudes, except to wish you both well as soon as.

  2. Catherine
    May 5, 2013

    Hang on in there … nearly 5 years hanging on in there for me and my daughter, now 14, and it changes and it is easier to cope with … in the first year it seems you are always sick or feel sick or are just sick and tired, in the second year I began to feel sad, in the third I missed him more than ever, in the fourth i began to emerge and now, in the fifth, I get sad just sometimes and feel guilty that I am not sad more often. I didn’t know what we were going to do, so as all surviving widows and widowers tell you, you survive each day, firstly a few minutes at a time, then a few hours at a time and then a whole day at a time. I am a member of WAY – widowed and young and it helps to share, not just in the way you are here with outgoing messages, but to see everyone else doing it hour by hour and making the journey with you. Yesterday we went on a WAY riding day, last Fathers Day we went on a WAY week-end in Christchurch .. its good for the kids and adults to ‘hang out’ with others who’ve been through it all, and no-one needs to exchange their story because they just know that you too are on this terrible ride. So tell your son that you also don’t know what to do at times, and that if you wait the feeling passes or you just need to go to the toilet, or get a drink or lay still and the fear shifts and you can move again .. be honest and later, when they most need it, they’ll remember that you too have felt like that when they are having to cope and you can’t hold their hand as they get older and have to manage in school, or when friends say silly things to them, or when watching some-one elses mom kiss their child good-bye or good-night when it’ll never happen for them again and their anger and sadness wells up …. let him hear that it is hard for you too but that its OK because you still have each other and love each other and that love means you’ll get by.

  3. violet
    May 5, 2013

    You can give Jackson calpol and then 2 hours later ibuprofen. another thing which is a good idea is to give Jackson a paint brush and get him to paint himself with calamine, it will take his mind of the itch while helping to sooth the itch.

  4. violet
    May 5, 2013

    oh and what about a syringe to help to get the meds down Jackson’s throat.

      May 5, 2013

      I got there in the end. He’s actually dealt with it all really well since. Thanks for the advice x

      • tokunbosade
        May 5, 2013

        yaay! one more win! high five!

  5. darkeyes85
    May 6, 2013

    You two have shared so much already and now chicken pox! I remember getting it myself aged four, wishing it to stop and withering in agony. I remember my grandfather rubbing something on my back and falling asleep in an itch less bliss…years later I asked what it was and was told rum…and he didn’t think I would remember that. I wish you two well, whatever you do don’t scratch. I still have a few scars.

      May 6, 2013

      I like the sound of your grandfather

      • darkeyes85
        May 30, 2013

        Grandad is a funny man. Who seems to think that drink can cure certain things, he was not wrong about the chicken pox that time though.

  6. sharron
    May 7, 2013


  7. Lunar Hine
    May 8, 2013

    I’ll tell you what he’ll do; he’ll cope admirably, because that’s the model he’s been shown. Sending virtual chicken soup.

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