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July 31, 2006

My Son

Will you ever know how much I love you, how my heart aches to think of you? You are a sweet little boy, a very special boy. Your lips curl at the edges as you smile, just as mine did; just as mine did before I became ashamed of myself, before I forgot how to smile. You run and tumble, so confident and happy. You swing your arms as you walk, your shoulders loose, not burdened by the imaginary weight of responsibility. Do you walk like that because I do? Are you copying me in my new-found confidence, or am I copying you?

You called me today and told me that you could not visit, just as you did last week, and the week before. You told me you are too busy; too many things to be done at home.

Though I want to see you, I feel relief when you tell me that you don't want to come. Perhaps it's because I too am busy; too busy executing a divorce; too busy auditing the remnants of a decade of my effort so that it can be divided by a court.

Perhaps I am relieved because I can avoid the pain, the deep sorrow that I feel when I am with you: of watching my parents divorce; of seeing my home broken into pieces and floated in different directions. Wasn't I supposed to have a childhood? Didn't I deserve to have a safe and loving space in which to create myself?

And now the same thing is happening to you, the very same thing. I tried so hard to make our family work; I burned many assets, forfeited much income, orchestrated great changes, and dived to the depths of myself. I tried to give you the home that I did not have. Finally, I realized that I am not the all-powerful three-year-old that you so need to believe that you are.

I sat, confused, in a small classroom, carefully learning joined-up handwriting while my home had become a violent pit of addiction and co-dependence. I feel that same confusion with you now: how can you play, can I play, when the foundation of your childhood is cracked and broken?

It's not your fault; this is not your doing. Though you try to bring us together, though you wish and long for it, you have not failed when it does not happen. You invite me in for tea and ask me to see your new toys in the garden. You lead me by the hand into the house. You want me to live there. I know how that feels. I know that ache; it was the same for me.

We made a castle tower of Lego; you lay it down and called it a train. I was feeling so happy and I asked you how you felt. "Happy." You responded as usual. We continued playing and I noticed that my hands were buzzing and warm, so I asked you, "How do your hands feel?"

"Sad." You said.

"Why do your hands feel sad?" I asked.

"Because there is blocked sadness in them." You responded while looking at the Lego.

"What is blocked sadness?" I asked.

"It's sadness that has not been let out, so it gets stuck."

"How does sadness come out?" I asked you.

"When you cry, the sadness flows out. If you don't cry then the sadness gets trapped inside." You said. I was astonished.

"Why do you have blocked sadness in your hands?" I asked you.

"Because mummy has a lot of blocked sadness." You told me.

I asked you, "Do I have blocked sadness?"

"A little bit." You said.

"How do you know that I have blocked sadness?" I asked you.

You responded, "Because you don't always cry."

"I don't cry all the time?" I asked.

"You don't always cry when you are sad." You said, looking up at me.

"I'm going to release the blocked sadness in your hands." I said and picked up one of your hands to kiss it.

You looked frightened and said, "It won't work. It won't be released." I imagined that you were fearful of losing something.

"Who put the sadness into your hands?" I asked you.

"No one." You said.

"Who can release the sadness in your hands?" I asked.

"No one." You said.

"I am going to kiss your hands and if you want the sadness to be released then it will be." I kissed your hands and then we went back to playing with the Lego train.

I am in awe of your self-awareness. I didn't realize that a three-year-old could be so wise.

Will you ever know how much I love you? I am sure that you will. As much as I love you: that is how much my father loved me. Now I understand how much pain he must have felt, to have a life so out-of-control, to see history repeating itself again in his family; to find himself drunk and abusive, just like his own father. And to see me, his little son, being lost in a sea of chaos.

You will read this when you are older, when you have had a chance to remember who I am. You will see that I am not what you have been taught. You will learn about reality from your own experience, as I have. And when you are old enough, you will know that you always were the sweet, adorable, funny, loving, successful man that I see when I look at you.

"This is so touching Duncan, really is." — Basi

"Very touching." — Mikaela

"Oh Duncan, once again you have opened my heart even wider." — Trish

"Bless you. This is so beautiful and sad and true." — Rosie

"This makes me feel sad but is also beautiful; Callum is very wise for his age and that can only be down to his parents. Most adults don't realise that they need to release sadness and that ignoring it won't make it go away (I know so many people like this) and for him to be capable of realising that at his age means he has, and will always have, his head screwed on. This is down to you and his mother so I think you should feel very proud." — Kelly


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