Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

old time

My son woke me up with a kiss this morning and then immediately told me to mind my own business. I hadn’t even said I word. He’s so like his mum in his sense of humour, I thought.

Having only just roused from a half-dream state, my mind was still wandering. It found itself back at Desreen’s old flat in east London listening to the noise of a party, which started roughly as we went to bed that night and showed no sign of letting up when we decided to stop trying to sleep by morning. The music yoyoed from drum and bass to eighties pop; I laughed to myself as I thought about the cheap cider-fuelled iPod wars that had no doubt gone on throughout the extended session.

Neither of us would ever have bothered complaining about the noise. We both loved it when young people made the most of being as selfish and immature as they’re ‘entitled’ to. And I guess that’s why I’m writing today – because I miss those old times.

Life moves on when you fall in love young. I remember never really wanting to get into a relationship in my twenties because I was having such a great time hanging out with my old friends and making new ones. But then it happened and we all fell like dominoes; one after another we were all getting married and having kids.

For a while life really didn’t change that much. Desreen and I fought the cliché of ‘settling down’ and tried our best to maintain the lives as we loved before becoming parents. We still had a great time together as a couple, and individually with our friends. I miss them too.
I miss seeing them and being able to do my own thing without the guilt attached to leaving my son with anyone else but his mum. It’s so hard to ever truly feel the freedom we once afforded one another when you have to ask others for help.

Then there’s the complete lack of time. I feel like all I ever say to the friends I haven’t seen for a while is that ‘we much catch up soon’.

When though? These days I find time is like milk in a fridge – you assume there will always be some there but if a few people take just a small splash in their tea, it runs out before you know it. And what with work, school and life in general, the calendar’s already full and my old life is barely skimmed.

It feels like, one way or the other, time costs guilt. I either feel bad about not making time for others or unfair on my son when I spend time away from him.

Today’s memories of the past made me remember how joyful it was when time was ours to spend. Stealing time, like stealing anything, however, can play heavy on your conscience.

If only there were two of me. Or, more to the point, if only there were two of us.

7 comments on “old time

  1. Margaret
    June 12, 2016

    I miss the day of having someone to do nothing with
    I also miss having someone ask me would I like a cup of tea then go make it for me.
    I was fortune enough to have almost 27years with my husband. I don’t know if I’ll meet someone else but if I do I think they might get a better me, the one that won’t moan about trivial things because I’ve found out the hard way that life is far to short for that

  2. countrygirl150
    June 12, 2016

    I feel exactly the same. Hence, I don’t go out. Only when they are in school. Then I don’t feel so guilty.

  3. bjdyke
    June 12, 2016

    Hi Ben. Thanks for articulating the journey so well. It really helps us that have had a similar experience.

    I still feel that guilt when I’m not taking care of my kids, 6 years on from my wife’s death and two years after having remarried. I’m learning to let others love me by taking care of the kids here and there but aside from my parents and my siblings who live in another country, it’s hard to let go to someone that isn’t the lady I had the kids with!

  4. ericahill1974
    June 12, 2016

    You mustn’t ever feel guilty about your time. You’re not stealing time – you’re just spending your allowance!
    Your milk analogy – so true. I often open my fridge to fine no milk left at all!! At least it’s not sour! ??
    I think if we look back to life pre-kids – we were allowed to be beautifully selfish? Then I go through the “would I have had kids if I’d known I was going to be alone”? . Luckily the answer is “yes. Of course. They are my life” but still..,the thoughts plague a little…

    It’s tough – you/we used to think we had all the time in the world. It turns out that time was more than precious and I’m sure like me you wish you’d guarded it more carefully.
    But we have ‘new’ time now…just need to work out what we want to do with it….xx

  5. David Kelly
    June 12, 2016

    I can empathise with time / guilt thing. I’m only just starting my journey as a widower and already had to ask my son for permission to go to a seminar I had booked some 6 months ago when we were in a different position. He immediately said no (which I was prepared to accept) but after a brief discussion as to why he said that it was ok as he was ok with it after all. I’ve had lots of offers for people to look after him but I think, in these early days at least, that I’ll try to minimise that as I think he needs me for stability in this difficult time. I’ll work around him as much as I can for as long as I can.

  6. victoriawhyte
    June 14, 2016

    As always, your posts are so honest and so touching.

  7. Marie add
    June 19, 2016

    I heard you on the radio this morning. I have lived through the same thing a long time ago. I can feel you have great understanding of your son, of the right words, the right time and great gentleness. ‘it’s dead but it’s still beautiful’ moved me deeply. all my very best wishes.

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