I’ve been talking to a woman online recently. She had posted a photo of her son who was a similar age to mine, but when I went on to read the caption I realised he had died several years before. I’ve known lots of people over the years who have lost their children. I cried with a friend last week whose son died as a baby and should have been 18 this year. My cousin died earlier year aged 50 leaving my uncle bereft, my parents saw the loss of my brother aged 40. I’ve known friends who have lost newborns, adults and everything in-between. I’ve heard from people via the blog who’ve lost children, nephews, sisters and have taken the time to share their story. Each one mattered. But there was something about this young man who had died which really struck me. I think it’s possibly because he was the age that my son is now.
I saw him standing on the brink of life, a young adult with everything ahead of him, and yet it was gone in a moment. And with that, the terrible loss to his parents, sister, friends. He really stuck with me for days and his mum and I messaged back and forth. This week I went to a school carol service. After years of nativity plays and carol concerts with my children, this was my last one. My son was doing a reading and as he went forward to do it, he read it word perfect. As I saw him standing there I wanted to cry. My heart was full and bursting with pride as I remembered the little boy who at his first nativity play stood there awkwardly, dressing gown on and tea towel on his head like all good shepherds. He’d gone from childhood nativity shepherds, kings and dancing Josephs to an adult singing in the choir and reading confidently. I remembered how as a dyslexic child he couldn’t read the word ‘the’ no matter how many times he saw it. It used to make me cry, and yet here he was, reading as if it had never been a struggle.
I thought about how lucky I am to see him grow up. I thought of friends who’ve missed this opportunity in their children. I thought of the young man’s photo on Instagram for who time stood still and I choked back the enormous lump in my throat.
For all the parents who have had to endure another Christmas with someone missing, I’ll be thinking of you. I’ll leave the last word to Annie who’s son was in the picture which prompted this blog post.
”People have an inner strength of coping. I think it’s all wrapped up inside love”