To James on Father’s Day 2019,
You are appreciated for being the most amazing Daddy to our children.
I couldn’t bear to face the facts when we were told of Joshua’s fate. I couldn’t even look at the consultants, though I was in shock I remember you holding me and you’ve held me ever since. I still can’t use the ‘official’ linked vocabulary to Joshua’s passing, yet you had to inform our parents, our brothers and sisters, our family and friends that our beloved son was not going to survive. No father should have to learn that, let alone have to break the news to their loved ones.
You were and are by my side whenever I need you. When I couldn’t leave the ‘bubble’ of our room at the #ChildrensHospital and the #ChildrensHospice you would to bring me drinks and food. During the raw grief when I didn’t want to eat you encouraged me to, you made me. When I awoke screaming, making sounds which I don’t recognise as my own, you were there to just hold me, you still are when you find me lost in grief. You stood alongside me in the early social situations, knowing that I needed you to lean on; still you do this knowing that I can sometimes struggle with my anxieties.
You returned to work after we learned of Joshua’s terminal diagnosis, not because you wanted space from the situation or to ‘bury your head in the sand’ but to allow me to spend every moment nursing Joshua rather than returning to work, instead you did. We didn’t ‘qualify’ for any ‘financial benefits,’ you returned to work to keep our family home and pay the bills, I thank you for giving me those 3 months after the terminal diagnosis, not just as Joshua’s Mummy but as his full time carer, and thereafter allowing me unpaid #bereavement time.
Together, we dread the question often asked, ‘How many children do you have?’ In the earlier stages of #grief I watched as you struggled to answer, we both still do! In answering honestly, you struggled, not because you didn’t want to include Joshua but because you didn’t like to make those asking feel awkward, aware that your answer would. On the whole, society does not talk of #childloss, for then the concept becomes too real, but for us it is reality. Joshua will always be our child, we will not see him grow to be a man, he may not be here in this world now but he is still accounted for when answering ‘How many children do you have?’
I am aware that many will have asked ‘How is your wife?’ forgetting to actually ask about you. We have a culture that is willing to accept female grief but it less understanding with regards to #malementalhealth, #menhurttoo. Society hopes that #bereavedparents will ‘get over’ #childloss so that we don’t make them feel awkward, after all we are actually living their worst nightmare, it would be easier not to talk about Joshua, for them but not for us! You and I share the need to keep his memory alive, to remind people that he did bless this world, to talk about the son who brought so much joy and love to our lives, even if it was to be cruelly taken away. We cherish the opportunities to talk about Josh but we also have a duty to highlight our journey to help society to support us and others in similar situations.
You planted an oak tree in Joshua’s memory, you climb mountains, complete rowing races, walk distances, etc. to raise awareness of Joshua and his legacy @JollyJosh. You supported my wish to create a charity in Joshua’s name, you encouraged me every step of the way when I strive to make #positivechange but you also remind me that I should be taking time for me, though your suggestion often goes unheard.
We made incredibly difficult decisions together that no parent should have to make, we nursed our son on the #palliativepathway together, and we grieve together.
We have since made other difficult decisions together, that of expanding our family. We experienced a miscarriage after Joshua’s passing, we lost another ‘child’ which we so desperately wanted, and together we grieved again. We face this 4th pregnancy with positivity and hope, we are to be blessed with a second son, one we hope (more than anything) will physically stay in our world so that we can nurture him an watch him grow, telling him tales of his older brother Joshua with the help of Sophie who grieves too and finds comfort in talking about her #sibling.
No-one can know what the future holds, we cannot know that we will always journey ‘together’ though we can hope. However, one thing is certain James; you are an exceptional Daddy to our children.
Happy Father’s Day 2019
Lots of Love
Mrs K x