Our youngest, my rock
I was sat on the sofa this evening after dinner just winding down and staring into space and unbeknownst to me, I was starting to get tearful. I must have let out a sigh because suddenly, Andrew who was watching a video on his phone (what else?!!) sat upright and said 'Mum, what's wrong?'. I said that it was nothing, to which he said, 'Swear on dad that you are not crying'. I couldn't. We have an unspoken pact, the three of us, that we don't lie, not even a white lie if we bring Paul into the equation.
I started to cry. first quietly and then uncontrollably. I just let the tears roll and sobbed my heart out. I cried for what I am missing. I cried because I will never ever regain what is lost. I cried because life is so unfair. I cried for my boys. I cried because I feel so alone.
I cried looking at the photos around us, each one triggering a blissful, carefree moment in our lives. I can remember the moment each photo was taken. I can relive each moment. I can savour the happiness I felt in that moment.
I cried for a long time and all that time, Andrew just sat next to me with his arms around me, not saying much. When I stopped momentarily to catch my breath, Andrew asked me 'Mum, is it because today is the first snow day without dad?'. Perhaps. Perhaps it was the bottom right photo which was the trigger for today's tears. That photo was taken during the last time it snowed - 3 years ago I think; the last time the 3 boys enjoyed the snow with snowball fights and sledging.
I was acutely aware that my tears were hurting Andrew doubly; in addition to his silent pain of grieving for his dad, he was taking on my pain. I tried to stop my tears. I truly did, but I just couldn't. Andrew said, 'Mum, you were amazing today. You got us out walking in the snow and we had fun. It is something dad would usually have done, but you did it today. So, you should be proud of yourself'.
This 14 year old young man never ceases to amaze me. Despite his teen hormones rearing its ugly head sometimes, he's always there by my side, receptive to my every tear and every sigh; always there to support me, always there to pick me up.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to take life one day at a time. If I look too far ahead, the future is bleak and lonely. So, I do force myself to not see beyond a day or two. But despite this advice, as I was sitting with Andrew, I had this sudden fear enveloping me on top of the tears. In 4 years' time, both boys would have flown the nest and I will suffer from the inevitable empty nest syndrome. Paul and I have talked about that moment in jest many times. How we can't wait to get rid of the boys so that we can start reliving our lives again with no kids. Now, that moment seems just around the corner, I am frozen with fear. I am doing my damnedest to look on the bright side - I can hear Paul singing Monty Python's Always look on the bright side of life 😂😂. I will hold on to Andrew for another 4 years and enjoy his warmth, his caring and encouraging words. But I need to do that without suffocating him.
The set of photos below captures in one frame the happy, carefree fun we are used to having. These were taken in quick succession in Belize at Lamanai Lodge as they lined up on the jetty and backflipped into the river one by one. Andrew was the last man standing and I still remember his giggles.
Paul was always the joker and Andrew has taken on that role now. While reminiscing and crying, I have one question that is so loud, it is drowning out everything else.