My boys are my life.
When we decided to move to New Zealand from the UK nineteen years ago we had one eight year old, Francis, and another, long-awaited baby on the way – Rowan.
Rather a rash thing to do – emigrate when you are five months pregnant!
My Mum asked me if I was sure we were doing the right thing. I explained that if my partner were any other than Chris I would not consider it. I had complete trust in Chris’ loyalty to me and strength of character to carry us through anything. So, when I say ‘my boys’ I include Chris, Francis and Rowan in this statement.
To move to a foreign country, previously unseen, and without any family or friends to anchor to is an extremely scary thing to do. We came out without jobs to go to and without a home base – we had no idea where we wanted to settle; all we knew was that we wanted to be in the South Island – an area very similar in climate and terrain to Yorkshire where we both came from.
We were a unit. We started with a group comprising three. This doubled when our fur babies, two beautiful Golden Retrievers (mum and son) and our chintzy moggie arrived out in crates from the UK some six weeks later. February saw the arrival of Unit 7 – Rowan Cai Parker.
We had completed a whistle-stop tour of the South Island from Christchurch down to Invercargill, inland through Queenstown and Alexandra and back to Dunedin by the time our animals arrived and we had decided on Alexandra as the place for us. We met some pretty amazing people during our first days in Alex. Leigh and Kay offered us friendship from the onset and, through Kay, we bought our first New Zealand house and put down our first New Zealand root. We met an incredible young lady whose parents owned the motels we stayed in – Sara became a part of our lives very quickly. With a beautiful daughter of her own now, she remains an integral part of our lives nineteen years later.
My father once described me as ‘sensitive’ when I was eaves-dropping around the age of eight! At that stage I would have totally denied this – tom-boy through and through – I thought I was resilient with a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude! I quite frankly had no intention of ever getting married – animals were my ‘bag’ – I didn’t need anything more!
Something changed along the way. I met Chris when I was twenty and we have pretty much been together ever since. Francis came along some eleven years later followed by Rowan eight years after that! We have always been a tight unit – when you move to a new country you are totally reliant on each other for company, comfort and support. We have always looked after each other and we have an inbuilt understanding of each other. Words aren’t necessary.
I know what unconditional love is. I hope you do too. Unconditional love is what keeps the world turning; it’s what gets me up in the morning; it’s what encourages me to go on living.
Being a parent is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love. It is a love that is absolute and not subject to any special terms or conditions.
When Rowan died I was bereft. I thought my heart would never stop hurting. It has stopped hurting all the time now but the hurt is never far away. I can lie in bed and feel love in my heart; I can feel it right through to my back, in between my shoulder blades. I can lie there and think of Rowan and know that the love I have for him is still totally and completely unconditional. My heart feels like it wants to burst out of my chest.
I feel so intensely proud when Francis stands up, walks towards me and hugs me as I leave the rugby club, in front of all his friends and the opposition! I feel overwhelmed; I feel that amazing unconditional love I have had for him for twenty seven years; the familiar surge that almost makes me cry.
I hear Chris’ car pull up outside. My heart skips a little. Even thirty eight years later he still makes me happy when I see him at the end of a day. Unconditional love? I guess with a partner the love isn’t quite as unconditional as it is with a child but he still rocks my world and I wouldn’t have survived the last seventeen months without him.
Our world was turned upside down and inside out when Rowan moved from this plane to the next so quickly and without warning. The love doesn’t die though. The love is ever present. As I said, I can feel it now, as strong as ever…..unconditional love doesn’t just stop because the recipient isn’t quite where you want them to be. Never forget that. That unconditional love that you feel is theirs and yours to share forever.