‘I miss daddy’, ‘I want daddy’ and ‘where’s daddy?’ are things I hear every single day from my little girl.
When my husband died, my concern for how our children would cope was very much centred on my son.
Sam was six and completely aware of what was going on. He’d had his formative years being close to his dad, and I felt he knew what he would be missing.
Florence had just turned two, and although I obviously kept telling her what had happened, that her daddy was too poorly and he died, I knew she didn’t really understand the permanence or it all. To be honest, neither of them did.
I’ve always worried about how Flo would cope growing up without a dad. Although she has always been a mummy’s girl, I knew the day would come when she realised everyone else had a daddy and hers wasn’t there.
No one can measure loss or whose is the greatest, but it just feels so desperately sad that Flo had a wonderful man for a father who she will never really know. She remembers him and talks about him every single day, but the truth is they both missed out on what I know would have been a really special relationship.
Flo is a little ray of sunshine, she really is a joy to be around and definitely our ‘easy’ child. I love spending time with her and I see myself in her so much, she really is my little sidekick, my doll and a great source of my happiness.
To know she only has me as a parent now just breaks my heart. Why should any chid have to grow up without a daddy?
Last week, she found some videos of Roger on the iPad, which we took as a way of him to communicate with the kids when he was stuck in the isolation unit at Arrowe Park Hospital.
He was kept in there for weeks after a spell in intensive care on loads of antibiotics gifted him C-Difficile. I was only allowed to sit with him if I was wearing plastic gloves and a plastic apron, and had to put my clothes straight in the wash as soon as I got back home to reduce any contamination risk.
The kids weren’t allowed to see him, and the hospital wi-fi wasn’t good enough for Skype, so we used to make video messages on the iPad so they could each say hello.
We still have those videos, thank goodness, but one of them in particular is tough viewing.
In it, Rog tells Sam how he will be coming home soon, and how we will all be off on holiday in our new caravan having fun together. That never happened of course, as Rog went straight from hospital to the hospice. A month after that video was made we were told he had terminal cancer. How life can change in a moment hey?
After Flo watched that video the other day, she was so happy because she thought her daddy was coming home. ‘He’s coming back, mummy!” she cried, and her little eyes looked so happy and shiny. She talked for days about what we would do when daddy came home, one minute making plans and the next saying in the matter-of-fact way small children do that he had died.
On Saturday, I overheard her telling her friend that her daddy had died and was now in the sky, a sentiment which left her pal puzzled as they stood at the front door staring up at the stars. ‘You see my daddy has died now so he is now a star,’ she said, talking about the way I try to explain death to her.
Sweet as it was, I felt for Flo’s friend who seemed a little puzzled by this explanation. It was good to hear some innocent acceptance from my little girl though, to hear her talking about this terrible thing in a way which made her feel proud, proud that her dad was special and shining down on us still.
How she handles losing her dad as she grows remains to be seen, but I have so much hope that she will keep those happy memories of him blowing out the candles with her on her second birthday cake, reading to her in bed, and all the rest that she makes up as she goes along.
The latest was ‘my daddy used to huggle me a lot and call me babycakes’ – the first part was true, the second perhaps not!