I was moving a lot of files from a laptop onto my new Macbook last night and came across a letter I wrote to my son just before Christmas 2009, very soon after the death of his Mother.
It put a lump in my throat to reread it. But I’m publishing it here because I think ultimately it has a happy ending (given how happy he is now).
How 18 months can change things, eh?
You woke in the night again last night after having bad dreams. You were terrified and shaking but couldn’t communicate what you were scared of.
I think you’re scared of her absence. I think you’re terrified of the emptiness of that hole she left in your heart. I know that because I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. And as much as it hurt, as debilitating as that was, I would do it all over again if I could take that feeling away from you, son.
You’re such a clever lad, so bright, so intelligent. But no child of your age has the emotional intelligence to process this type of trauma and I see how much it frustrates you to not be able to communicate what’s wrong.
5 years old (should that be 5 years, 11 months and 18 days?) and you’ve already experienced something that even people in adulthood are often unable to process. So I know such words as those I am about to say will seem empty when I repeat them to you… but one day they will make sense.
This is what I promise you, son. I promise you that one day this will hurt you less. I promise you that one day the nightmares will stop and you’ll find a way to smile again.
I also promise you that you will never forget her, that we will never stop thinking of her and that we will always, always cherish her memory. You will never stop missing her, son. You’ll think of her every birthday, every Christmas, every Mother’s Day and on random days too. You’ll see people in the street who remind you of her and have to stop yourself from approaching them. You’ll swear to yourself sometimes that you can hear her voice whispering into your ear. Every single time you bring a good report home from school we’ll both be thinking that we wish she were around to see it.
But I promise you that the agony you are feeling right now will not last forever, son. I promise. Your heart is broken into a thousand pieces. But let’s pick up the pieces and put them back together again. I’ll help you find the pieces and together we can start repairing the damage. It’s not a quick fix, I know. But I’ll be right with you every single step of the way, son, holding your hand. And on those days you just don’t feel as though you can take a single step, I’ll carry you.
I know I will never be her and I know I can never bring her back, but I promise you that you’ll be happy again one day. And you will never, ever, ever have to question how much you are loved or how secure you are.
I’ll keep you safe and love you with every ounce of my being. Not just for you and for me… but for her as well.
Things will get better.
I love you, son.