The ‘Firsts’ – an Emotional Perspective
Obvious ‘firsts’ are birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – the times where Rowan was such a large part of the experience and such a huge presence. Then, of course, there are the school things – things that have been such a large part of our lives for so very long; swimming sports, sports day, cross country, Kapa Haka, school productions, school formals. Weaning ourselves off these things is not an easy process. We want to be there but have no real right anymore; and if we were there then we would probably make fools of ourselves by crying again! Then we have the ‘not-so-obvious’ school related things; school holidays, first days back at school, seeing the uniform on someone else. Some things are easy to circumnavigate – we avoid the shop at times where the kids are likely to be there; before school, lunchtimes and after school. Other things you drive yourself to see because you feel that it somehow pays some sort of respect to Rowie’s memory. We all have different tolerance levels. Chris and Francis drove themselves to watch the first Kapa Haka performance at school after the amazing performance of his friends at his funeral. This was a no-go area for me. I tried for sports day but couldn’t get beyond the car. Swimming sports, with Chris along side was a little easier.
People kind of expect you to be over the grieving by a certain time. They look at you as you approach wondering whether to cross over to the other side of the street to avoid you. “Oh crikey, I hope she’s not going to cry”! To be honest, I was probably guilty of thinking along those lines in the past. Grief is a strange beast. You think you’ve got it beat and then it creeps up behind you and bites you on the bum!
As our ‘firsts’ are fast coming to an end and the ‘respectful grieving time’ is nearing its end (I believe it is 12 months), I hope you will forgive us if we still have the odd hiccup along the way. We sit down to dinner every night, the two of us. We have had 26 years of sitting down to dinner with our boys. We know that odds are Rowie would have disappeared to Dunedin next year but he would still have been a presence and a welcome visitor when he returned. This is no longer an option.
We have had to get used to each others company again – something we haven’t had for 26 years. A make or break time I think. But ten months on I honestly think we are going to make it.