Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

And now, leave me alone!

THURSDAY, May 20 – Just leave me the fuck alone. Give me some space, kids. A rest. Spare me your questions, your requests, your criticism, your nagging, your cravings, your demands, your problems, your dirty laundry, your clean laundry, your shoelaces, your missing toothpaste, your bread crusts, the last bite of your vegetables, everything that’s made life difficult for you today. Just leave me the fuck alone, and go to your mother.

Leaving the kids all alone

WEDNESDAY, May 19 – Tonight I have a late meeting in Hilversum, so the kids will have to go to bed on their own.  I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to them, but at the same time I know it’ll work. I can’t always find someone to keep an eye on them, and they’re getting older. But still…  Get home around eleven o’clock and I’m touched to find Eamonn in my bed.

Grandpa, but no grandma

TUESDAY, May 18 – A colleague calls to tell me that he’s become a grandfather. I remember his son from our stay in the States, when he was in high school. Wow!  Solid proof of how time flies. I smile at the thought of my friends as grandparents and I’m reminded of the two baby quilts that his wife W made for our boys, the oldest of whom is now a high school student himself. Baby. Grandparent. Me someday.

But never Jennifer.

Back to work or not?

MONDAY, May 17 – Back to work. Can I really swing it? Will I be capable of devoting myself one hundred percent to my work as a journalist and my role as a father?  I’m not getting stressed out about this. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work and I’ll have to think up something else. It’s just that simple, I tell myself. And for the moment I actually believe it.

Just wanting to be alone

SUNDAY, May 16 – We all have a right to our shitty moments. Today it was Eamonn ‘s turn. After a fun morning together at IKEA where we had bought a desk for him, he’d had a great afternoon with his best friend. But, then, someone suddenly snuffed out the candle.

I found him lying on my bed, in voluntary solitude, for which he apologizes later that evening.

‘I didn’t even want to be with you, Papa.’

But there’s nothing wrong with that.

‘I was afraid you’d be hurt.’

Absolutely not. I have moments like that, too, when all I want is to be alone.


Yes, really. Problem solved.

Old trick of the one-night stand

SATURDAY, May 15 – I’d forgotten how boisterously the conjugal bed can creak when used with great frivolity. That’s the art of the one-night stand. You’re spun off into another direction like you’ve stepped onto the wrong tram and find yourself headed in the other direction. Fun. Man lives by hope. Ha!

A clean slate? Total nonsense

FRIDAY,  May 14 – If you hear something often enough, you start to believe it. That must be the motto of all the friends and acquaintances who keep assuring us that a new house means a fresh start, a clean slate. They assume that we are now free to move forward full of confidence; leaving behind the memories of the old house and starting with a clean slate. Problem solved. In my book that’s wishful thinking, and this papa says: Fucking bullshit. Total nonsense. There are a great many well-intentioned individuals who absolutely do not know what they’re talking about.

It could always be worse

THURSDAY,  May 13, 2010 – A plane crash in Tripoli, Libya. Seventy Dutch passengers killed. It’s all over the news. Shocking news, which I try to shield the children from.  Eamonn sees the news anyway and asks: ‘Tripoli … is that far away?’

Yes, it’s far away. The geographical distance gives him a sense of security. Until he hears that a nine-year-old boy named Ruben is the only survivor of the crash. I do my best to keep the photos from him since the intensive care unit in that far-away hospital is identical to the one Mom was hooked up to in the hospital here in Amsterdam.

We end up talking about Ruben that evening when we go out to dinner. Sander’s friend comes along, and he describes the incident down to the last detail. I can see Eamonn thinking. That means that Ruben is the same age as I am and he’s just crashed in an airplane and is lying in a hospital. Not only his mother is dead, but also his father and his brother.

For a moment he’s silent. ‘That means that what’s happened to him is even worse than what we are going through,’ he concludes. ‘I guess you could say that,’ I concur with relief. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Time to celebrate again

WEDNESDAY,  May 12 –  I never knew we had such beautiful plates and cups and stuff. All of it was stored on the bottom shelf of the cabinet in the dining room and I’m seeing it for the first time, as I unwrap the various pieces.  Dinner plates, bowls, serving dishes.  Magnificent.

Never seen them before – or maybe never noticed them, due to lack of interest. Everything was unused. No doubt wedding gifts from aunts and uncles, carefully tucked away, afraid something might get broken which would have been a shame.

There were more surprises. Things the boys had made over the years, which I had long since forgotten. An imprint of five-year-old Sander’s hand in a plaster heart, for Mother’s Day. A snowman made out of an old sock, with ‘Eamonn’ scrawled across the front. The most touching memento was hidden in the wooden shoes someone gave us when Sander was born:  a handwritten card accompanying the flowers that Eamonn had bought for Jenn last year:

Happy 41st* B-Day Mom!

The asterisk was clarified on the reverse in red letters:  ‘Even though you look 25’.

This afternoon Eamonn came up with the idea of organizing a party on the 28th of this month, her birthday and to ask the same people who were invited to the Halloween Party that was cancelled last October. Eamonn declared that ‘it was time to celebrate something again’.

I told him he was a wise child.

Moving on after moving move

TUESDAY,  May 11 –  Moving on after a moving move, I scribble on my Facebook wall. Especially after the moving van arrived at our new address and the four moving guys  distributed the furniture and boxes throughout  various rooms. When the foreman asked me where I wanted everything, I was initially at a loss.

My first impulse was to say, ‘I haven’t a clue. Ask my wife.’  Every time we moved, she’d taken charge:  she was the conductor, the traffic cop, the linchpin.  I felt a shiver go down my spine and asked him to wait a minute. I walked out on the balcony, took a deep breath, shook my head, and then turned around and got on with the job.

There was no stopping the movers: a couple of hours later, the second floor was full of our stuff and we lived somewhere else.

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