I don’t know what set me thinking about it – when my son Joe stopped having a bath and started having a shower. The point was I didn’t know, that’s what got me. At one point our life had order and routine then that was ripped up and we landed somewhere new and had to figure out what to do.
We used to have a routine. The boys had a bath. Then we had a story and a song. Then bed. Everyone knew the routine. It was part of our shape.
Then Ben got ill. Most of the time Ben was at the hospital with either me or Louise. One of us would come home each night after Joe had had tea and a wash to see him briefly before doing it all again the next day. Louise’s mum (Big Nannie) filled in the blanks magnificently to give Joe care and continuity.
Then Ben died and we had to figure out how to navigate the crater he’d left in our lives. Sometimes we feel we’ve got it figured, other times we don’t have a clue.
This week it was seven years since Ben died. Longer, we realised, than he’d been with us. This day and his birthday are the numb days where we expect little of ourselves and major on distraction.
I looked at some pictures and found myself frustrated, as if I was looking at fragments, trying to research who my son was again. Memories, as I remember realising after Ben died, are good but they are not enough. We don’t want to remember Ben we want him here with us. We remember moments, we remember his personality and character grasping for his essence but lost without its embodiment.
My wonderful wife Louise managed her Bible reading on the anniversary. It was unerring, funny how that happens. It said that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness – that his grace is sufficient. He has what we need, he will see us through. It also said we should consider it joy when we face trials. How countercultural is that? Even when you’re on your knees, through gritted teeth. We give thanks and we see what we have, we see there is still light.
We thank God for Ben, for all the heartache he was a gift who enriched our lives and still does.
We give thanks for all we still have, for our precious family, for the ways God has stood with us.
We thank God big time for the people that look after us. Another day of cards and flowers and texts and a box of top quality macarons.
I always hesitate to give advice for those that know others who are suffering but I always say be there, be available. To that I will add in future, to remember. I cannot begin to tell you how powerful it is that people remember us on these days. It’s one of those things I cannot express so thank you will have to do. Thank you big time.
Then came the day after, it was hard to get going. I was heartsick. I knew it was time to go again and again it was into a life without Ben. But there was a new day to step into and I didn’t have to face it alone.