Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Further down the road

I wasn't going to write anymore but it might help to make sense of all the shifting emotions, so I will keep going until the funeral.


Sunday was a strange day. The wife and I stayed with the boy, talking to him and stroking his hair and hand. We had always been with him in life and couldn't find it in ourselves to leave him in death. We waited until dawn, and then one of us stayed with him while the other made the news available to those who needed to know, starting with the doctor.

Even though she wasn't working at the weekend, our GP very kindly came round to do the grisly ritual of checking he was really dead. She was in tears as the got out her stethascope and checked his pulse. He was so cold by then it was just bizarre to watch.

She didn't have the right certificate with her, so the boy couldn't go anywhere. We weren't ready to let him go, so weren't too bothered. The wife was in overdrive and spent most of the day talking and crying on the phone, pacing endlessly round the house. That meant I was able to have quiet time with the boy. I tried to reconcile that his passing for the best, given where he had got to, with the lovely happy boy we had lost and with whom we had such little time.

In the evening one of his night nurses came round with some food. I helped her get it from the car. There was a lot of it. How many people do you have she said. Errr... just me and the wife I said. She was appalled that family and friends weren't with us. Being Sri Lankan she saw this as hugely improper. People should be with you for 48hrs. We Westerners do death differently I mumbled. It's not like people haven't been round. Later, she was kind enough to sit with the boy while the wife and I ate for the first time in 24 hours.

We couldn't work out what to do for the night. We couldn't go to our bed and leave him alone. After a confused discussion, we decided to stay with him. We dragged the matress into his room. It was very cold there, no central heating and the window wide open. I wasn't sure I could sleep in his room but after forty hours without sleep I eventually succumbed. It felt like our last time as a family together.


Inevitably, I woke up on Monday at my normal time to take over from the nurse. But it wasn't necessary anymore.

There were more visitors and I stayed with the boy while the wife dealt with them. After being numbed into calmness on Sunday, the realisation that it was all over and everything our life had been built around was gone sunk in. It was more than I could bear. I told him that we loved him. That I didn't know what we were going to do. And that I was sorry we had failed to keep him safe. But we had tried our best.

The wife and I agreed that we couldn't keep the boy endlessly. And it was meaning we spent no time together. So I rang the funeral directors to tell them to take him late afternoon. This fixed deadline gave an end point for the wife and she finally stopped rushing round and spent some time with the boy.

And I dealt with my mother. Grief is a funny thing and unpredictable in what it makes people do. As for my mother she will obsess about a minor thing rather than focus on the big thing. She was very thrown by realising that the boy was in the house. She had expected us to have got rid of him that morning. Instead of dealing with it she complained that she was supposed to be on holiday next week. And if the funeral were next week, this was the third holiday she'd had to cancel. I didn't pursue it but assumed that there were other holidays that she'd cancelled over the last couple of years when the boys health had been uncertain. Turned out that the first was thirty (yes, thirty) years ago when she'd come back early because my grandmother had died. And the other was five years ago when my father had a heart attack the week before their holiday. She asked if I would think it bad if she didn't come to the funeral as it was her last chance to have a holiday in good weather this year. I didn't really think she wouldn't come but said it was for her to decide but I wasn't arranging the funeral around her.

I had a few minutes with the boy before the ambulance arrived to take him away. Not long enough. They asked if we were sure we were ready. I choked out that we were, whilst wanting to say, no you can't have him. They took him in a Moses basket along with little panda. The wife and I stood pathetically at the doorstep watching it go off down the road and then turned to face our first night without him.


It's not the toys everywhere that get you it's the little things that catch you off your guard. Like noticing that there's a bowl of beaten egg in the fridge ready for cooking he will never do. Like noticing a book on a high shelf we had never given him. Andf then there's the practical arrangements.

Went to the registrars to register the death. On the way remembered making a similar journey to register his birth. It seems so recent, because it was. On arrival the receptionist asks for the deceased's name, my name and my relationship to the deceased. I give the names and on the latter question say "father". She writes son. I say "no. I was his father". Not the usual or right thing to have to register.

In the afternoon we go to arrange the funeral. Discussions of flowers, service, limos, coffins and urns for ashes. The little children's ashes boxes are too horrible to contemplate. We can't decide on which of the two crematoria to use, so will have a look tomorrow.

At bed time, the wife comments on how calm she is and how wrong that feels. Moments later I find her in tears coming from the boy's room having said her normal goodnight words to the absent boy. I know that it will get better but right now it is so, so hard and we miss him so much.


Anonymous said...

Thinking of you, keep writing x

Thomas, as told to Sarah said...

Wish y'all had more support.

Still thinking about you.

Lucia Saenz said...

Hi Colin,

Thank you for sharing how your days have been since Lawrence passed away. I can imagine and understand how you and the wife are feeling and yes, some day things will get easier. Don't push yourself and try to live one day at a time.

Take care of yourself,
Lucia (ependyparents)

Brooke Hicks said...

I am so sorry to hear about your son! My daughter Maddie passed away 5 weeks ago, I am a member of the ependyparents. I have been following along with his story for some time now. If I can be of any help to you, please email me.

Be kind to each other. This is a very hard road to be traveling, death is so hard on the living.

Love and peace, Maddies mom