Sunday, 25 November 2012

A little empathy goes a long way

Yesterday I was at the AGM for a charity with which I'm involved. We'd stayed overnight and I was pretty relaxed as I waited for the meeting to start. It was held in the middle of a social gathering and I was surrounded by people I've known for a long time - we've seen our children grow up so I know a lot of them quite well.

It was a tough time for me because tomorrow should have been Al's 21st birthday. The run up to this birthday has been easier than I anticipated but not without its difficulties. I've thought about him a lot more than usual. Of course he's always flitting in and out of my thoughts but recently the regrets of the sheer waste of his life and the yearning to see him have again become more frequent.

And yet I'm so much calmer than I was as his previous birthdays approached. He's dead and I will always miss him. But although I spend a lot of time thinking about him - and I suspect that others (non-bereaved parents) think I talk about him far too much - my memories are usually happy ones and I usually remember/talk about him with no trace of sorrow. I'm able to laugh at the things he got up to that drove me to the point of distraction. So I am OK. I'm happy. It's just that sometimes I'm sad too. It doesn't last long but sometimes, as bereaved mums are entitled to be, I'm sad.

Anyway, there I was at this gathering surrounded by people I know and like - and several little ones with blonde hair – it’s hard to see them as they remind me so much of Al when he was that age but after my stomach flips and my heart lurches as I catch my first glimpse of them, I’m OK and I can watch them – and even be entertained by them. I like small children. I love their innocence and curiosity.

I met another mum I hadn't seen for years. As my youngest and her eldest caught up and reminisced about previous gatherings, we had our own catch-up. It was lovely to spend some time with her. As soon as I mentioned it, she made it clear that she was already aware that Al had died. She offered her condolences and the conversation moved on quite naturally. Her little boy came bouncing through – a stunningly beautiful little blonde boy - called Alexander.

Later she approached me and asked if I would prefer it if they referred to him by another name during their stay. Of course I declined her offer – despite her reassurances, I felt it would be unreasonable and unfair to expect a little boy to answer to another name.

But the very fact that she even considered it meant so much. The fact that she could empathise enough to see that I might find it difficult to hear a child called by my son’s name gave me enormous comfort.

What a lovely woman.

1 comment:

  1. I know that I will never meet her, but I REALLY like this lady. Her thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit is such a refreshing change.
    Thinking of you, Al and your girls xxx