Thoughts of a Dad on the loss of his son

I have shared lots of thoughts here, all from a mother’s point of view, but of course I am hardly the only one feeling the loss. Jesse’s Dad felt it was time to get his experience down in writing and has let me share his thoughts on this blog….

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By Tom Apple

recent-jesseI think I can finally commit to writing a few thoughts on the untimely death of my son, Jesse. It’s been five weeks since he died. I’m doing OK for the most part, but there are still very painful pangs of grief that manifest themselves daily. As my wife, Carol, has written, our lives will forever be changed by that event. My perspective has changed in many ways. I try to immerse myself in work and hobbies to distract myself from the pain, but it is only a temporary fix.

We still don’t know the cause, it is hard to keep from speculating on it, scrutinizing moments in the past to see if there were signs we missed that his death was imminent. Signs that could have clued us that there was something needing to be done. He was such a kind-hearted soul, generous to others, and with a strong ethic, the kind of young man I think the world is in desperate need of at this time. I am overwhelmed with regret that I did not avail myself to doing more with him while he was here with us. I feel that I failed to protect my son from whatever mishap befell him. That thought pains me the most. Logically I know this is a normal part of grieving, but logic be damned, it still doesn’t make any sense to me.

The thing that has buoyed me up the most has been the overwhelming outpouring of support from family, friends, and colleagues. That support, I have learned, can be a powerful thing. I can understand how hard it must be to try and console someone who has suffered such a loss, not knowing what can be said to help. The reality of it is anything said does help. Even statements such as “I have no words” or the silly little heart symbols, it all matters. The simplest acknowledgement that someone empathizes with your pain matters. For all those who reach out with any sort of contact, it helps. It doesn’t have to be flowers or cards or anything extravagant; a simple contact on Facebook, email, whatever, helps. For all who have done this, I am eternally grateful. You don’t know how much I love all for you for doing so. Sometimes these expressions will bring emotions and grief to the surface, but it still helps. I feel so lucky to be blessed by knowing such caring people. Some of them I’ve never met, only had contact on Facebook through common interests, yet they reached out with their concern and unconditional friendship. I know some of them are struggling with grief or critical health issues themselves, yet they took the time to reach out. God bless you all.

One of the hardest things is the drive into work. It’s a time alone at the start of the day before work and other daily things become prominent in my thoughts. It is at that time that reflection takes hold, the impact of the loss takes hold, and it’s all I can do to dry my eyes before driving through the security gate at work. I feel like I need a change of some sort. I’m not sure what exactly, maybe a different job, or living in a different place, something…

Work has me on the road for two weeks with a brief stay at home between trips. At least on this first trip, I find I just don’t want to be here. It’s tedious, irritating, and I have to be careful not let myself get sharp tongued when irritating incidents arise. I haven’t always succeeded in this. I am instructing some Japanese workers in Yokosuka and they see my irritation and unfortunately they probably take it personally, not knowing about my grief. At some point I will need to offer my apologies to them before I leave.

The loss of a child is unlike any other kind of grief. It’s a relationship hardwired into our DNA. One that when broken in such a manner, carves a big @#%ing hole in your heart. I don’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy. It’s just not natural. I don’t know what else to say at this point. The keyboard is probably about to short out from the tears flooding it. Hug your kids ever day. Love them hard. And I swear if I ever see anyone abuse their child, I don’t what I’d do, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

Jesse as a medieval blacksmith’s apprentice at Jamestown Settlement’s annual Military Through the Ages event. This is one of the numerous costumes his Dad made him over the years. He also used it for Ivanhoe Day in 6th grade at Stonebridge.

Author: CJ

Blogger, illustrator, writer

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