A story of grief by a man and a boy

birthday boy

Jackson, my boy, as you’re three today,

There are two or three things that I’d like say.

There are one or two things you might never have known,

And there are some things I’ll remind you of when you are grown.

One lovely thing that I’d first like to say,

Is that we found out you were coming on Valentine’s Day.

We waited a long time for you to come,

Then finally you were there in your Mummy’s tum.

And you slept best in there during the day,

When you’d never wriggle nor ever play.

At night, however, your limbs grew twitchy,

You’d stop Mummy sleeping and that made her witchy.

So she ate strange things to ease her troubles,

Like fistfuls of soap and Fairy liquid bubbles.

Did you know you like fish fingers because of your Mummy?

She ate millions of them when you were in her tummy.

Did you also know she nearly called you Sonny?

Or that we named you Jackson after my mummy’s mummy?

It was Great-Grandma’s last name when she was a baby,

Do you remember her, Jackson? She was a lovely lady.

And there’s still so much that I’d like to say,

About my boy born on a Sunday.

And that’s the day that Daddy came too,

But I don’t think I held out as long as you.

You took four days and Daddy grew drowsy,

I shouldn’t have told Mummy though, she thought that was lousy.

You were perfect that day, your skin soft as peaches,

You wouldn’t come naturally but that spared your features.

And the emergency delivery room was so chilly,

That Mummy didn’t even notice your willy.

You had big brown eyes and hair that looked styled,

And everyone said that you’d drive the girls wild.

You drove our hearts crazy, that’s for sure,

You changed our lives forever more.

And the next two years were our happiest ever,

And I won’t forget them, son, I promise I’ll never.

And I want you to know more about Mummy and you:

Little things like your trip to the zoo,

Small things like how you’d share a bath,

And all the things she did to make you laugh.

No one made you laugh more than she,

And everything she did was for you and for me.

And you made her the happiest that she’d ever been,

The most devoted mummy that I’d ever seen.

And it’s a small thing, I know, but your mummy cried,

At something you did the day that she died.

You sat on our bed and sang Happy Birthday at last,

You’d learnt the words after her birthday had passed.

And the pride in her eyes was something to treasure,

And the love in her heart for you beyond measure.

And her love and pride for you were her last words spoken,

And her love and pride for you can never be broken.

And I’d like to say thank you for helping me through,

And I want you to know how much I love you.

You and Mummy having fun at bath time this time last year

For advice on how to write your own ‘letters of life’ to your children check out this link

42 comments on “birthday boy

  1. Georgiee
    October 17, 2013

    Beautiful – Happy Birthday Jackson xx

    • lAWRENCE
      January 18, 2014

      I lost my beautuful wife on Christmas Day 2013 after being together for seventy years,
      I wrote this poem.


      • MissFit
        April 12, 2014

        Lawrence, this is beautiful. I cannot imagine losing someone I knew for 70 years. I am currently grieving the loss of someone i knew for 2 yrs and it feels unbearable. i have so much respect for you

      • christina
        May 3, 2014

        beautiful poem. thank you for sharing it.

  2. Cath Barnes
    October 17, 2013

    So beautiful , happy birthday to your beautiful boy , they are always with us forever in our children’s hearts x

  3. J. Shah
    October 17, 2013

    Beautiful words.

    Happy birthday Jackson x

  4. Keely Mitchell
    October 17, 2013

    Beautiful words xx

  5. the mmmmm family
    October 17, 2013

    Beautifully written lovely words, happy birthday Jackson.

  6. Me
    October 17, 2013

    Dearest Ben, I have been following your blog for a while after seeing your heartfelt interview on BBC Breakfast. I have never commented before because, as beautifully as you write, your pain tugs at my own heart too much, which I feel selfishly terrible about, as I am not bereaved nor have I suffered such a tragedy. I think it’s maybe because were it not for your tragedy our lives would be a mirror image. I am black, my husband is white, we are from London and our little boy also shares his birthday with your son. He is one today. I look at your family photos and they could be easily mine. I cannot even begin to know how you feel and just the thought of my husband being in your position or vice versa fills me with such sadness, especially today on such a special occasion. I wish you well in the future and for you and your son’s journey through life to be as happy, full of love and fun that it can be. Sending you a big virtual hug. x

  7. Me
    October 17, 2013

    Dearest Ben, I have been following your blog for a while, since I saw your heartfelt interview on BBC Breakfast. I have never commented before, because although you write beautifully and share such interesting insights about grief and loss, your words tug on my heart too much, which I feel terrible about because I am not bereaved nor have I suffered such tragedy. If it were not for your tragedy, our lives would be exactly mirrored. I look at your photos and they could be mine. Our little boys even have the same birthday. Today, my son is one. I cannot even begin to imagine what you have been through and if I allow myself to think of my husband in your position, I simply can’t. I wish you and your little man the best of everything and I hope your journey through life together will be as happy, full of love and fun that it can be. Sending a virtual hug to you both on this special day. x

  8. lottiescl
    October 17, 2013

    Wonderfully written and yet again, you prove what an amazing inspiration you are for your son. Big hugs of strength for you today, if going by my own experience, it’;s a tough one! And of course, Happy Birthday Jackson!!

  9. Davina
    October 17, 2013

    Just beautiful. Happy Birthday Jackson

  10. Gemma
    October 17, 2013

    Just beautiful. Happy birthday Jackson, I’m sure you’ll look back one day an see how wonderful your dad is and just how special you are to him. Xxxx

  11. Donna
    October 17, 2013

    Big happy birthday Jackson, am loving the shower cap !! Have written on here many times as I guide my girls through the loss of their daddy 18mths ago. Believe me you will treasure these memories and moments your daddy has written for you as you get older. As my girls say my daddy made simple beautiful…. Sending love and cuddles from us poms in Australia have the best birthday xxx

  12. Jenny Hunt
    October 17, 2013

    Happy Birthday beautiful boy, you have an amazing Daddy. X

  13. Trawlergirl
    October 17, 2013

    Lovely, just lovely. Happy Birthday to Jackson. x

  14. TheHandmadeMum (@DaniAskins)
    October 17, 2013

    Beautiful poem, Happy Birthday Jackson x

  15. Karen Croft
    October 17, 2013

    Just amazing and beautiful tribute to Jackson and Desreen – Happy Birthday Jackson have a wonderful day xxx

  16. Melanie
    October 17, 2013

    Beautiful. Happy birthday Jackson x

  17. Julie
    October 17, 2013

    Happy birthday Jackson!!!
    Beautiful poem to remember a beautiful day and a wonderful mummy. xx

  18. Caroline
    October 17, 2013

    Hope the sun is shining, and the day is good, filled with wonderful cake and food. Love and laughter, song and dance, remember to smile and enjoy every chance. Happy birthday Jackson xxxxxx

  19. karl
    October 17, 2013

    Many Happy returns of the day from the Fardoe family, regards to you both Karl

  20. koolkreationsblog
    October 17, 2013

    Many Happy returns of the day to Jackson from the Fardoe family, regards to both of you, Karl

  21. Izzy
    October 17, 2013

    You have such a way with words, tears are running down my face, many happy returns to your lovely little boy Jackson! what a special little boy you and Desreen created together. I am sure Desreen is looking down with a big beaming smile and she is in every part of your life even though she is not here in person to share this special time! Xx

  22. adayinthelifeofabusymum
    October 17, 2013

    What a beautiful poem! Made me chuckle and made me so sad. Happy Birthday Jackson! x

  23. sharrongordonsharron gordon
    October 17, 2013

    Happy Birthday Jackson … enjoy your day … x

  24. Christy
    October 17, 2013

    Through tears I concur, this is beautiful. God bless you both. HaPpY BiRtHdAy JACKSON!!!!

  25. Vee
    October 17, 2013

    Ben i believe you are one of those gifted people never lost for words or a poem. Just beautiful. This for me is as beautiful as the tribute you wrote for your wife. Happy Birthday Jackson..,,you have a special Dad.

  26. jeri
    October 18, 2013

    such a Lovely poem and so Beautiful ! happy birthday sweet Little Jackson and he knows what a special daddy he has.

  27. Viv
    October 18, 2013

    Just lovely. And a great photo. Hard day to get through on your own but youve done it, it will never be so hard the next time I hope

  28. Afterwards
    October 18, 2013

    This is an incredible message from a father to a son, many hugs to you and Jackson today as you celebrate what is likely a very bittersweet day. My heart breaks over your story, thank you for sharing it with this community.

  29. Greet Grief
    October 18, 2013

    What a wonderful birthday gift to a child who was conceived in love, carried by love and has love holding him through all this! That was lovely!

  30. Andy
    October 19, 2013

    Great strength as always, your doing your lad proud.

  31. Sarah
    January 17, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful x

  32. Pingback: February Chat with a Dad: Benjamin Brooks-Dutton of Life as a Widower | Little Steps

  33. Emma Day
    February 2, 2014

    Such a beautiful poem. I have tears in my eyes. Your words are so full of love.

  34. hilmarehotz
    May 19, 2014

    Reblogged this on hilmarehotz.

  35. Shamz
    June 5, 2014

    You make me cry but that’s so Gud. I miss my husband so much x we will c them again I know we will. Big hug to you and your son, your strength keeps me going and u put down on paper exactly how I feel x Jah bless u

  36. Cat
    November 8, 2014

    Death. Sickness. Accidents. Relationship. Retrenchment.
    All cause grief and no one deals with grief in a similar way.
    One can go from Godly to Godless in times of grief.

    The hole that is left in my heart is different than the whole
    that is in my mom, sisters, aunts, uncles…
    Plus, losing a breadwinner is painful.
    (I will not understand the hardship my mom went thru to make ends meet after that)

    Anger. Hatred. Confusion. Bitterness. Empty. Put all the negative emotions in the world….
    I’ve felt everything and all those emotions struck me even harder when some accused me of
    ‘killing’ him.
    After 13 years i still couldn’t answer how i dealt with grief.
    I always say, God is helping me but what if an atheist/non believer asked that question?

    Here’s my answer…
    I never dealt with it but I learn to live with it and still learning control my tears/emotions because every single thing in life reminds me of him.
    I do not want the hole in my heart to be closed because if it’s closed, I could ‘lose’ him.
    I still need that grief in my heart but in a positive way to remind me of how much i love him
    and miss him.
    Even Jesus grieved when Lazarus died.

    After 13 years, i no longer ask “why did he go so soon?” Or “why did he die the day after my birthday?””why this?” “Why that?” but the question that i always asked myself after he left has always been “what if dad….”. That question is haunting.

    Time will not heal but be careful not to let loneliness eats us.
    Loneliness, crisis and trauma are the result of grief.
    Feeling horrible, miserable, hopeless, suicidal.
    If we have those, quickly get help.
    I thank God for for bringing back my sanity and I quickly contacted someone for help when wanted to commit suicide.
    Well, I am still traumatised by birthdays and phone calls from family members even now.
    I fear weddings because I do not my spouse to be left wifeless, my children to be left motherless and feel the way I felt if i died earlier than them.
    Those are the issues I need to deal with.

    I live to tell my story and that is my life’s purpose.
    I tell my story to students and each time I did, I became stronger.
    I began to understand my purpose.
    It’s not about me but it’s all about the lives that I could touch through my story.
    I believe that I am one of the happiest grieving daughters in the world now but I do not want any child to go through what I went through.
    I went through it with my church friends, uni mates and not with my family.

    Dear wives, husbands, dads, moms, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, cousins, you are responsible to hold each others’ hands in times of grief and when one of you falls, not only you have one hand pulling you up but all the hands of your families.
    I did not have any and it hurts.

    It took me 11 years to realise how self centered was and that my family members are also grieving and need support so I offered my hand first. Today, we have each other’s hands ready to pull each other up.It’s never too late to offer our hands as long as we have a willing heart and as long as we admit that we need help.

    Always take care of yourself before taking care of others.
    Hiding grief with a smile doesn’t work all the time.
    It could slowly kill us from the inside out.
    Guard your heart.

    A Daughter

  37. riannahka
    November 12, 2015

    This is beautiful. The words, the way it’s structured, and the dedication! Sorry for your loss and I hope you guys gain continuous strength and support.

  38. Katie Costello/ Zahorchak
    November 25, 2016

    This is such a beautiful poem
    Thank you for sharing
    I have only recently started following your blog and can relate to so much of what you write. I lost my husband very suddenly and unexpectedly in September 2014
    My life was blown apart in a second and I was left to bring up our four babies alone. My youngest was only 9 months at the time my twins were 4 and their first day of full time school and my eldest just 8.
    I will never understand why our lives took this path, but what I do know is that my children were and continue to be my complete survivals.
    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings. I look forward to reading your book
    Katie x

  39. Maria Davila-Hall
    March 8, 2019

    I know its old but the feelings are still there. I tear up reading this. I have a 3 year old and the thought of not being there just eats me up inside. the uncertainty, the fact that you can be here one second and gone the next. You are doing an amazing job and I know that she will always be remembered by you for your guys son. Bless your hearts.

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