No child should have to lose a parent, ever. And if they do, no child– especially not one as young as three– is ever expected to ‘cope’ with that loss in any particular way.
Some days, when I look at it closely, examine the place in my soul that weeps soundlessly for what my babies have endured, I am blown away by the way my little boy has taken this in his stride. Dealt with it, coped with it… whatever. You don’t get over losing a parent (or a child, or a spouse, or a sibling, or a friend… the list goes on), you just get on with it.
But I’m amazed by my eldest child’s tenacity and resilience. I’m in awe of his cheerful, optimistic nature. I’m fascinated with the way he has this whole thing down pat (“Don’t cry, mummy, daddy is happy in heaven, and he can still see you. You can still talk to him”). I’m continually challenged and inspired by his inherent ability to question and query, to want to know, to form a concept in his little brain that even some adults can’t fathom.
I’m just proud of him, with every cell of me. He is bravery personified, humanized and poured into the form of an incongruous four year old boy.
He lost the house he’d spent his life so far in… he lost his Purple Life, too. He lost his ‘school’, the daycare and play groups he was so fond of; his friends, a lot of his extended family, and most of the people he’d been taught to call Auntie or Uncle Whoever since he was born.
And then he lost his dog, his best mate since the first one was taken away. And Tony and Chop were the very best of friends. They were a team, a partnership.. they understood each other in a way I think only fathers and sons really can.
And all through that– he’s been so very, very brave. So brave I want to scream at the skies to leave my child alone!!!, let him live the rest of his life quietly and without drama or trauma or conflict… but what a boring existence that would be for him, when he’s destined for such magnificent, awe–inspiring things, and to give him a short cut might mean turning him onto the wrong path altogether.
Sometimes great people… they must do hard things.
My son is, despite his losses, the type of child who is smiled at in supermarkets by old ladies; who is popular and easy to get on with at daycare; who is, for a larger chunk of his time, a pleasure to be with, easy company and good conversation. He suffers anxiety, and I ponder as to whether that’s nature or nurture, personality type or a product of my own crippling post-natal depression; but that anxiety has decreased and become easier to deal with over the space of the last twelve months, not the opposite, as you would be forgiven for expecting. He’s managed to ditch his dummy and his toddler bed of his own justification and inclination, with little assistance from a mother who was emotionally comatose for the first six months of the year, and toilet trained himself as well. He visited the dentist for the first time a few months back and, while I saw the natural hesitation slow his exuberance, it was his innate curiosity for new experiences that won out, and I sat and watched him; at a loss for words, this child braver than I am.
|Chop does the dentist chair with flair.|
The Chop was excited, looking forward to the prospect of his four year old immunizations. I explained, over and over, that these are needles and they may hurt, thinking that he didn’t quite understand what would be happening at his doctors appointment. I was wrong– not only did he understand, but he was genuinely excited, and watched closely without flinching as the nurse pushed two separate needles into two different arms; examining the clear, cold fluid as it sponged through his muscles.
Brave. Tolerant to pain, emotional and physical, in a way that’s almost superhuman.
He’s grown up far too quickly, and I’m painfully aware of that- I’m too immersed in the damage that’s been done to be able to ignore it. But he’s happy, my little boy. He’s cheerful and optimistic and playful. He laughs and giggles a lot. He’s smart and inquisitive and a gentlemen at three feet tall.
I’m proud to call this tiny human mine. I’m not sure how much credit I can take for the pleasurable nature he has, given the emotional void that I still occasionally exist in and was the status quo for the first six months of 2011. But I’m proud to bear witness to his triumphs, to the way he takes life and stares it down, afraid but not turning away… barely even flinching.
It’s an honor to watch him growing into the man he’s going to be.