Diary of a Widower

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

Dreading his 10th birthday

MONDAY, July 5 – He doesn’t know what he wants. He knows that he’s not enthusiastic. It’s not that he’s sad or anything. He just isn’t cheerful and expectant, the way you ought to be two days before your birthday. It’s more like ‘been there, done that’. He doesn’t feel anything at all.

So I grab hold of him. Eamonn, it’s going to be a fantastic birthday.  And that’s a promise.

He’s not convinced. If you ask him what he wants for his birthday, then he knows. And can easily put it into words. ‘The present I want is impossible.’  

Don’t mince words. ‘Son, I know that what you want most of all is to get your mother back.’ I put my arm around him. And again I promise him:  ‘You’re going to have a wonderful birthday.’

Later that day I go into action. I buy tickets for the movie Toy Story 3, and inform three mothers that their sons will be picked up on Wednesday afternoon. I arrange for a birthday cake, which a good friend has offered to make. I dash into a store that sells party goods, and buy a selection of paper streamers, balloons, and candles for the cake. And then I buy a present that’s much too expensive and very much against our principles.

Principles. For years, Jenn and I had made it clear to the boys that we were against video games at home. They weren’t good for the children’s development and because we kept to our beliefs, they had stopped asking for them. But, now things are different and I decide to risk a posthumous marital quarrel. I buy a Wii.

I promised him a fantastic birthday, and that’s what he’s getting!

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