A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
It’s three years today since Desreen was killed. In the beginning people always used to tell me that they couldn’t imagine what I was going through, so I decided to tell them. I wrote a post called Imagining It in an attempt to explain and share all the different feelings. I then went on to write blog posts entitled Six Months, Remembrance Sunday, Two Years, and now here we are again today.
I’ve been trying to write this one for a while, but for some reason I’ve just not found the words. This morning I decided to go into work a bit later than usual because I wanted to have breakfast with my son and then take him to school. He was noticeably more affectionate than usual and insisted that I cuddled him harder than I ever had before. ‘You nearly squashed me,’ he exclaimed with a big smile on his face.
Despite taking an hour or so out to be with him, I’ve decided not to mark today. Maybe I’ll tell him its significance this evening but, the way I feel right now, I doubt that I will. And it was while I contemplated this on my way to work that I realised why the words for the reflective format of the once traditional blog post just weren’t there.
I’ve been trying to think more positively recently. Perhaps ‘trying’ isn’t the right word – I guess I’ve challenged myself to do so. Gradually I’ve started to find that I have to try less before it starts to just happened.
So, for example, when my laptop was stolen from the pub on Friday night, I told myself that it was just ‘stuff’ and was oddly rather satisfied that I still had my umbrella (the mind can work in strange ways). When I went to leave the house this morning, I realised that I had since lost my umbrella, too. At least it’s not raining, I thought.
Also, it was Desreen’s birthday a few weeks ago and I decided then that that should be the date I mark with my son going forward. There’s nothing to celebrate today.
Today, however, is also not the day to follow the format of those previous posts, not because I’m not in hurting but because my overriding feelings are of gratitude and hope. All my previous ‘milestone’ posts have been written with other people in mind. Through them I’ve always tried to explain how grief has felt for me at that particular time, to help them understand how it might feel for them.
These past seven days, however, have made it quite difficult for me to reflect on what has become my ‘normal’ life, because they have been extraordinary.
This time last week I listened to an inspiring panel – featuring the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez – talk on the subject of protest. I made notes as they spoke, knowing that when I left the room I had a job to do. That same day I started campaigning for what I believe to be more common sense and thorough approach to testing drivers’ ability to continue to drive safely as they age. The support has been incredible, and that’s what is making it difficult for me to find the words about how I have mostly been feeling as I’ve approached today’s date.
All I find myself able to say is that today I feel grateful for the support so many people have shown for the campaign.
Today I feel sure that, if we keep on going, we can make a change.
Today I feel thankful for all my amazing friends and family who always have been and always will be there.
Today I feel so moved by the wider community that has amassed around this blog and its social channels over the last three years.
Today I feel touched that a little girl ran over to Jackson in the playground this morning with a card she’d made for him to mark the day.
Today I feel proud that when I left my son at school this morning he was happy.
Today I just don’t feel like thinking about how I might have felt yesterday or how I might feel tomorrow.
In many ways today is just another day. And yet, when I think about it, it could also be a day that changes everything. Let’s just hope that, unlike this day three years ago, it is one that has the potential to change things for the better.
To sign and share my petition please go to change.org/olderdrivers