I know its nearly the end of January, but I take a while to get round to things. I just wanted to reflect on mine and the Menace's journey in 2012. It was a big change (again) for both of us. As I said, I started dating someone (Mr X) just before the marathon, and its still going strong.
At first I didn't tell the Menace, but we have always been close and I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it from him for long, nor did I want to. When I told him Mr X was a special friend he wanted to know more about him, but he was suspicious. I can understand why, he had had my undivided attention for 14 months. He also started talking about Kevin an awful lot, something that hadn't been so apparent for a while. I went to see the family counsellor at the Hospice of Saint Francis, I was worried that I was tipping him over the edge. She explained to me, that he was a "very powerful little boy" that he and I had been equals and there was little reason for him to want to accept someone new. It was made clear to me by the staff at the Hospice I needed to disempower him and get back my little boy, not let him be a little man.
This was very hard to do, I had spent 14 months wanting to empower him. I wanted him to think that although he had no power about his dad dying, that life was good and that there was much to look forward to. However inadvertently, spending my birthday with him and his friends at Pizza Express etc, made him feel that he was the centre of everything, which whilst true, is not a healthy view to have on life. The analogy put to me was "you have both been paddling along in this boat, and you have swum off to another boat, he is trying to get you back."
So I worked hard to set some rules and explain what was "normal", and over time it has been really nice to watch him turn back into a little boy. He is more relaxed and also looks forward to when Mr X comes over, and thinks of things for them to do together, although this is mainly watching films (something Mr X loves!) Next weekend he wants them to make me a birthday cake together! (although he is having second thoughts on this, as Mr X doesn't eat cake).
The analogy of the boat, became very apparent after I went away for two nights with Mr X, for his birthday. Up until then the Menace had been quite subtle about it, but he said "Mummy, you went away and had fun without me!" I can see his dilemma, I am all he has and he doesn't want to lose that, but we were in danger of having a exploitative relationship before Mr X came along, it was all about what I could do for him. However this outburst gave me a chance to talk about what is normal, and to focus on the long term.
He still misses his dad, but I love watching him get closer to Mr X, it is nice to see the Menace accepting the situation and moving forward. A crucial moment for him was Mr X making a photo frame for his room, with lots of pictures of his dad in. I think it helped him realise that there is room for memories and room for the present. It is nice to see him recognise that change can be a good thing. Mr X has also been to family events with the Bolams (Kevin's side of the family) and again, I think that helps the Menace to see that it is okay to accept a new person into our lives.
As we approach the second anniversary of his death, I can't help but think how far we have come, and how different I feel about life now, than I did two years ago. I am at peace with my emotions, something I had not been, for a long time. Kevin was ill for 6 years, we supported each other and grieved together, and I will always be amazed by the strength that he showed towards his situation and his imminent death. He really helped me to accept the deal, and it is nice now to move forward with love and hope for the future.