It’s been quite a while, huh? I guess I’ve been a bad blogger. Well, I’m not usually a “good” blogger under the best of circumstances, but it’s because I’ve been being a good dad. Or at least as good a dad as I can be.
You see, my son’s mum- my first wife- died of breast cancer on March 8th. He’s 14 and she was 41. Yeah, 41.
Fuck you, Universe.
It’s been brutal, heart wrenching, devastating, unadulterated pain for everyone who knew and loved her. Her three children (all boys aged 5, 8 and 14), her husband, her mother, her sisters and brothers, cousins who were as close as siblings, aunts and uncles, friends who were like family, and countless other people who were touched by the incredibly special person that she was.
No child should lose their mother, but my son and his young brothers did.
No mother should have to bury her child, but my son’s grandmother did.
And my heart aches and bleeds for their loss, and for all who loved her.
She died in my son’s arms- he held her while she took her last breath.
He’s the third generation of first born sons in our family who experienced this... I don’t know... catharsis. I held my mum while she died. My dad held his mum while she died. And now my son, my sweet boy, has this cross to bear. I was 39, and it still stays with me. My dad was 58. My son is only 14. A boy.
Death isn’t always like Hollywood. People don’t always close their eyes and drift off like they’re going to sleep. No. They often shudder and seize. Their eyes roll back in their heads as they pass on. It’s not pretty. That’s the death my son saw.
I’m sorry if this is upsetting to any of you- it’s upsetting for me, too. But it’s what happened, it’s what my boy went through, and I know the images from that day will never leave him. Ever.
Fuck you, Universe.
Wasn’t taking his mum from him enough? You’re gonna make him carry that, too?
We’ve talked about that day a few times. He said-
“It was scary, Dad, I felt it coming.” Oh, man...
I’ve wished so many times that there were a way for me to carry his pain for him, to protect him and fight this battle for him, because it’s so big and so overwhelming. But I can’t, and it’s like a knife in my heart every time I see the sadness in his eyes.
So, what can I do? Therapy?
“I’m not going to therapy, Dad.” And he said it with conviction.
Well, I’m not putting him in therapy. If he doesn’t want to go, then he isn’t going to get anything out of it. You can lead a horse to water....
I spoke with a few friends who lost their mothers at a young age, one of them only two years older than my boy is now. They went to therapy and just nodded their heads and said what they had to say- they went through the motions. There was no real “healing”. How the Hell does a child heal from something like that? One of my friends said-
“It fucked me up, and I didn’t deal with it until my 30’s.” Not what I wanted to hear, but this is what we’ve got. It’s his road to travel, but he won’t be doing it alone because I’m going to be beside him every single step of the way.
So, I went to therapy. To try and find a way to help my boy. To teach him how to carry the load. And to let him know that he is not alone. I went to therapy because I was scared. Scared because I didn’t know what to do. Well, now I do. Kind of.
What I’ve learned boils down to this, and it’s very simple-
Love him and be there for him. That’s it.
So, I love him unconditionally, and he knows this. For that I am very grateful.
I am there for him unconditionally, and he knows this, too. Because I’m his Dad.
I try and be more gentle now, because he won’t get a mother’s gentle love ever again. I write him notes every morning, wishing him a good day and that I’ll be thinking of him, that he’s a great kid and I’m proud of him. I always sign it-
I love you. Love, Dad.
I found out that he’s saved every single one. I saw them in his room, neatly piled on a shelf. It made me happy and sad all at the same time.
I’m there for him everyday, because I have to give him two parents worth of time. We spend time together playing video games, watching movies, listening to music, washing up after dinner... whatever it is, I let him know that he is not alone.
I got him a heavy punching bag and some gloves so he can kick the shit out of something when he’s feeling overwhelmed and angry. He calls it therapy. Sometimes, he lets me hold the bag for him while he throws punch after punch after punch, the tears welling up in his eyes, his face contorted with anger and sadness and confusion. So, I just hold the bag and... be there. Because I’m his Dad. I’m his only parent.
Fuck you, Universe.
The therapist told me-
“Keep her memory alive. Take him to places she lived, start a Memory Book, have him be the one who keeps her memory alive for his brothers. These are things that will help him grieve.”
So, I’m planning a trip to New York City, where he was born.
I’ll show him his first home in Brooklyn. I’ll take him to places he and his Mum went together. His first playground, Prospect Park, FAO Schwartz, Chinatown, and The Village. The place where I met his Mum and the birthing center where he was born, coincidentally, right across the street. Hopefully it will help him grieve, who knows. Either way, it’ll help him start his journey, and help him keep her memory alive.
This entry has rambled and yelled and swore, I know. But this is the hardest thing my kid has ever had to face, and I pray that he never has to face something this brutal ever again. That if tragedy or deep sadness enter his life at some other juncture, he has the strength and maturity to cope, and the will and conviction to thrive. He is a wonderful human being. But I’m still scared for him.
Every day I have moments of fear. Fear that I won’t be able to help him through this. Fear that I’m not strong enough to find the right way. Fear that he won’t let himself grieve. It’s a big fucking hill to climb- you’re damn right I’m scared. Wouldn’t you be?
But these are just moments, and it’s ok to have them. I remind myself that every decision I’ve made since the day he was born has been easy, that I’ve always done what I thought would be the best thing for my son.
So, right now the best thing is to be strong and present, and not to give in to fear (cue the Yoda*).
*more on that another time.
I know I can do this for him. I have to.
I know it’s going to be hard- the hardest thing we’ve ever faced. Because it is.
But, you know what? It’s also going to be easy.
Because I love him.
Because he’s my son.
Because I’m his Dad.
That’s it for now.
Thanks for reading. See you soon.