The big bump in the road

I had always considered writing about our experience of bringing up Mac. When we were looking to adopt, there was not much that you could read that gave a realistic sense of what bringing up an older adopted child was like. I thought that there could be experiences that we had gone through that might be useful for others.

Then there were also the funny memories – the stories that we tell each other around the dinner table or when new girlfriends are introduced (the verbal equivalent of the naked baby picture) – that it seemed that it would be fun to record somewhere. Again, it was really just for us as a family, but if others were interested and found them useful, then it seemed a good thing to do.

And then Mac died.

Of course, that turned our life and plans on its head. It is impossible here to say just how much that changed us as people and changed the way we think about so much.

But as I thought about it more, it struck me that the people you share the majority of your memories with are usually your children.  Your memories are part of the inheritance that you pass on, part of the way that you live on in them shaping them with your love, care, and your stories about the past.  Of course, we are no longer in a position to do that – so I offer them here to you.

But more than anything I want this blog to be a positive thing – something that celebrates Mac’s life and the man that he became and how we got there.  I want it to be a place that celebrates how we found Mac and helped to find himself; of how we helped him to mature, build resilience and learn to live with the things that had happened to him in the past; of how he learned to keep his old life and new life in balance.  I want it to share the wonderful memories that we have and how lucky we have been to have him in our lives.

I don’t want it to concentrate on how he died, but we can’t ignore the fact of his death and how it affected us because we have learnt so much about who we were and are as parents by losing him – leaving that out seems wrong. 

Time moves on.  The pain of losing a child never goes away – but you do learn to live with it, and in time it doesn’t become what defines you (unless you allow it to).  There are occasions when things are worse – celebrating my fiftieth birthday was not the same without my son by my side in the way he was when we celebrated Swee’s.  As his peers move on and grow up, it reminds us of the future that has been lost for all of us.  Sometimes these occasions catch us unawares, and the tears just come from nowhere.

We have learned to prepare and to create new traditions.  We weren’t sure what to do on Mac’s eighteenth birthday.  So we gathered together – family and our closest friends and had a birthday party.  We had a rainbow cake and released balloons – and it might be fanciful, but as the balloons rose up into the sky, they formed an ‘M’.

Of course, I miss him.  I miss his laugh that sounded like a peel of bells.  I miss his bear hugs.  I miss singing with him in the car.  But if someone told me that we would only have him for eight years and that we would have to endure the pain of losing our son, I would still do it. 

We learn so much from our children, and I know that I am an infinitely better person for having been Mac’s dad.

Sparkle and Shine, my beautiful boy.  I love you.

Dad xxx.

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