Countless parents have been through this, countless more are going through this and, sadly, countless others have it still to go through; the unimaginable grief of losing a child.
I have learned so much over the past twenty months. I have gone from ‘sometime agnostic’ to ‘sometime disciple’ depending on present circumstances. I have always liked to cover my bases! Losing Rowie on Boxing Day 2012 kick-started a journey of enormous proportions for me and I have been amazed by so many things along the way.
As I have said before, I made a promise to Rowie when I was encouraged to write this blog by him exactly one year ago (whilst I was in California with Jodie), that I would tell it exactly as it is; no embellishment and nothing left out.
I have come a long way since that sunny morning in Aptos – Jodie lying on a hammock in the sun, Bodhi Hope Archer, her Labrador pup, chasing flies and shadows and me, sitting in a chair in the sun, notebook at the ready; equipped to take down anything Rowie cared to say to Jodie in their session together. I am unaware of how ‘physical’ he can still be – and Jodie giggles as he tries to tip her out of the hammock!
However far I have come, there are still moments that set me back. I get angry with myself for allowing these moments but I am unable to stop the wave of sadness when it comes.
I absolutely KNOW that there is life after death; I absolutely KNOW that Rowie is very happy where he is; I absolutely KNOW that I will see him again; I absolutely KNOW that he is with me whenever I want him to be but this knowledge doesn’t stop the sadness caused by my inability to have his physical presence here and the sadness that I can’t hear his voice, his laughter – and I can’t watch him with pride like we did two years ago.
Catlins Got Talent – sure has – enormous talent! What an incredible evening yet again. Every year this show exceeds expectations. Last night Chris and I sat proudly by as we watched Francis and his compadres perform for the masses – loved it! Two peers of Rowan’s were in the group with him. Scattered around the hall were most of his friends; Claudia and Hannes, Duncan, Reuben, Erin and Nikeisha, Isaac, Hohepa, Jess and Tom, Josh, Ben, Quinten and many more for sure.
Claudia, Hannes, Nikeisha, Isaac and Erin are all studying in Dunedin; Jess and Tom at Lincoln; Duncan running his family farm; Reuben scored a wonderful job up at Walter’s Peak Station; Hohepa teaching Maori Martial Art in local schools, Josh, Ben and Quinten shearing/farming.
I can’t help but wonder what Rowan would have been doing if he hadn’t contracted out of this world when he did! It’s strange. I feel enormously sad, almost tearful as I look around. Here they all are and Rowie isn’t. Where would he be sitting? What would he be doing? Would he have joined Francis, Duncan, Ben and Kevin for their ‘turn’? Would he have been laughing and chatting with Claudia and Hannes? Maybe he would be discussing martial arts with Hohepa or some bizarre thing with Isaac! I sit and imagine his face, his laughter, his happy face when he gets to spend time, so special to him, with Francis.
What is very strange is that I can’t imagine him anywhere. He wasn’t supposed to be here and he was never supposed to have been here. He is absent in body and spirit. When he died it was ‘the right time’ – that does sound whacky I know. The Universe has an uncanny way of allowing things to happen when the time is right.
Some parents have their childrens’ lives mapped out for them before they are out of nappies. Chris and I had a vague vision for Francis but no such thing sprang to mind for Rowie at all – ever! Rowie didn’t want to study at Varsity even though he would have done sufficient work at school to get there. He was unsettled; he didn’t know what he wanted to do. He wanted to stay locally with his friends, Claudia and Hannes – maybe he would have……………..NO! I can honestly say that I cannot visualise Rowie anywhere doing anything at any time!
Yes, last night I was very sad again. But this sadness is of my own making. It is a selfish sadness; a sadness that says ‘why can’t you be here with your friends Rowie’? ‘Why can’t Chris and I watch you with pride too’? ‘Why can’t we share your journey with you’?
Two steps forward and then one step back. Another obstacle but yet another lesson learned……..and why doesn’t it surprise me……The Universe got it right again.