Iron-clad promise to my son
SATURDAY, November 14 – Eamonn crawled into my bed. It was only quarter to five. Said he couldn’t sleep. ‘Sorry.’ No problem. So, I cuddled him and we both went back to sleep. We woke up around seven and cuddled some more. I turned over, with my back to him, in the hope of getting a bit more sleep. A small voice said, ‘Papa, I love you.’
I turned around again and we began to talk about how hard it all was. About then and now, the differences, about the future and the trip we started planning last year. From the American East Coast to the West Coast by motorcycle, when Eamonn is 21 and I’m 56. It’s an iron-clad promise, which Eamonn wants to confirm this morning, here in bed.
But we made one slight adjustment to our plans. We’re going to forget about the motorcycle. ‘I want a convertible. A red Mercedes-Benz.’ There was a silence. ‘But that’s probably too expensive.’ Heck no, I say, let’s go for it. A precious moment in the big bed: that small voice and the overpowering cuddle.
9:15 – ‘Men aren’t allowed to have feelings’ is the heading of an article in the Volkskrant’s weekend magazine. It’s about widowers and how they’re apparently not supposed to talk about their grieving process. Fact: In the Netherlands some 18,000 men are widowed each year. There is no shortage of books, sites and organizations, according to the widower in the interview, but they’re all by and for women, who are clearly better able – or more willing – to express themselves than men. Bullshit, I say to him and to myself.
19.00 – Jenn’s parents called. Earlier today there was a service of remembrance for their daughter. It was intended as a simple gathering, but there were over a hundred people in the congregation. Therewere relatives from several other states and friends who lived close by. It was marvelous, heartwarming, a wonderful occasion for them, there and at that moment, but it made me feel sick.
Another farewell; another form of closure. I didn’t want to hear about it, and I would certainly not have wanted to be there. It would have been a setback for the boys and me. Reliving everything was the last thing we needed. We have to move on, even though we’re still mired in disbelief. Fuck the pluperfect.