Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

breathtaking boy

I always hate the idea of train travel with my son. It’s the not knowing how he’s going to behave that bothers me. I pray he’ll sleep for the whole three hour journey from London to the northwest of England, where my family lives, but it rarely works out that way. I guess I’m just one of those parents who dreads their child screaming the carriage down and disrupting other people’s peace, rather than one of those who simply thinks, ‘Well I’ve always had to listen to other kids doing it, so fuck ’em!’

Since my wife died I’ve been delaying the journey home. The Christmas trip was so unpleasant and my nerves were so frayed that part of me wondered whether I was putting it off indefinitely.

But today’s travels made me realise that there’s little point in trying to predict the behaviour of a toddler.

If I’d have had my way these past few months, some kindly chemist would have created Baby Nytol – a sleep-inducing, fluorescent pink, sweet and sugary tincture akin to Calpol – which I could use to sedate my son at will. But if they had, I’d have used it too freely and I’d have missed something wonderful today as a result.

I’d have missed the progress that my son has made recently.

I’d have missed him simply sitting next to me, happy enough in my company not to make any demands.

I’d have missed him just lying on my lap singing quietly and giggling at his own jokes.

I’d have missed him squeal with joy when he saw a field of cows through the window.

And I’d have missed him reaching for my phone to show the table of chatty women sitting next to us a picture that he loves.

“That’s my mummy!” he shrieked adoringly at them out of nowhere.

‘And that’s my boy!’ I thought, my breath taken away by the pride he confidently showed in the parent he’s not seen for seven and a half months. The parent he’s starting to understand that he’ll never see again.

"That's my mummy!" The picture that Jackson loves on my phone.

“That’s my mummy!” As proud of his mummy as she was of her son.

15 comments on “breathtaking boy

  1. Wife After Death
    June 25, 2013

    Yes, I think that’s it, isn’t it – time is so fluid at their age, if Mummy / Daddy walked back in tomorrow it would take them three seconds to re-adjust. But at a certain point, they actually start to miss them…
    Ben – I told you I’d feed back about my daughter and her counselling – turns out it’s going quite well. I don’t know much about what’s going on (client confidentiality – gah!) but I have spoken to the counsellor and evidently it’s a positive experience all round.
    What can I say? We do what we can…. X

  2. kelly
    June 25, 2013

    I love reading your blog. Such sad tragic circumstances, but with every piece you write you show strength. x

  3. Joanne Alberti
    June 25, 2013

    Wow, that’s beautiful…the story and the picture of your wife.

  4. Mumaleary
    June 25, 2013

    How gorgeous. It is such a privilege to be a parent in moments like that. I hope that you are able to enjoy your time at home at least a little.
    Much love to you both. X

  5. Gina Sharp
    June 25, 2013

    That’s lovely Ben. Really is x

  6. JJ
    June 25, 2013


  7. gumby25
    June 25, 2013

    Another inspiring and purely beautiful insight into yours and Jacksons journey.

  8. Emma Newell
    June 25, 2013

    This post has made my day

  9. mummybarrow
    June 25, 2013

    You are just the most amazing human being

  10. Trudy Proctor
    June 25, 2013

    Always makes me smile

  11. Joleene
    June 25, 2013

    Powerful how children can capture a moment like we could never imagine x

  12. Lauren
    June 25, 2013

    ❤ lovely story of your son, and the picture of your wife…. she was gorgeous, even thru the photo I can see the spark of loveliness in her eyes and her smile…. was that your wedding day? I'll bet you made her so very happy…. you must miss her so so much….. I too had a wonderful mate who passed away just over a year ago and it is definitely a journey filled with both beauty and pain.. Bless you and your son and thanks again for sharing your story, your struggles and the beautiful moments of your life. ❤ love from California-

  13. Natalie
    June 26, 2013

    What a treasure your son is x

  14. nornironman
    June 26, 2013

    As parents, as much as we feel we can often predict our children’s behaviour, there’s always those occasions, such as yours here Ben, when they blindside us with joyful, touching moments of expression 🙂

  15. How beautiful 🙂

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