A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
Grieving for two can be a heavy load. The minute I get a little respite from my own pain, my son will do or say something that totally floors me and leaves me feeling broken all over again. But sometimes I think that I use an adult filter for both of us when the rational thing to do would be to let his grief trickle through a child’s.
This afternoon I dressed my son for a party at his newly acquired little pal’s house just round the corner from our house. A few weeks ago my friend Lee bought Jackson a shirt for no other reason than love and it was time for it to make its debut. Once ready, Jackson gave me a showy little twirl – something he has never done before.
‘Mummy likes this one’, he informed me about the shirt that was bought as a gift after her death, ‘She’s coming to see me later.’
‘She’s not, Jackson’, I corrected him in the hope of avoiding any subsequent disappointment.
He laughed hard at my comment and in turn corrected me, ‘She is, Daddy!’
Suddenly I felt ashamed. Who am I to say whether or not she is after all?
Jackson suddenly loves an imaginary purple dinosaur called Barney. I used to loath this children’s TV character when I was younger. I had a television that doubled as an alarm clock and the then irritating man-in-a-dinosaur-suit would often wake me up for work when I was tired and a little worse for wear from too much partying the night before. Now I love him because he makes my son happy and teaches him to use his imagination, to love his friends and to have fun. He only ever seems to preach positive lessons.
Jackson’s sudden acceptance of a role model other than Thomas the Tank Engine has coincided with my recognition of his ability to dream.
‘Daddy, Nanny sat on me and owls came to take me and Thomas away’, he reported somewhat disturbingly at seven o’clock on Tuesday morning.
So maybe his mummy is coming to see him later. Maybe children have a heightened sense of spirituality that allows them to connect with the dead. Perhaps their inhibitions allow their one-sided conversations to feel complete. Or maybe they are able to dream without those dreams feeling like nightmares.
Whichever way it is, I just hope Dessie does come to see her little boy tonight. And if she does, I hope he wakes up happy to have seen her in the morning.