It has been a lovely half term.
AC and I have been on our own for most of it. We've been out for lunch together, been swimming together, put new curtains in the camper together, played together, and watched tv together. We've chilled out, together.
It's been lovely.
I have cherished this holiday, because even though there is another one in 4 weeks and 3 days time, this could be the last one where he wants to be with me like that. He is 9. He is growing up in so many ways. I hope there are many more holidays like this to come, but even now there are flashes of teenage hormones, flickers of a 'no' and an establishing of his own strengths and personality. It is a kind, generous and loving personality, and although there are areas in which he struggles, and in which he will always struggle, I know that he will be a kind, generous and loving adult.
He is becoming more like J every day. He still has so many mannerisms and elements of Rich in him. He is his fathers son, and he is my son. Physically, he looks like me - the same grey green eyes and the same sandy hair, and apparently the same smile. He jokes and plays like J does - poking, joking, same verbal responses to things. He rides his bike like Rich used to, he runs his hand through his hair like Rich used to (when it's long enough!) and he laughs in the same way, and one of my cooks at school once remarked on how much they looked alike, and there are things that I know, that are there. He wrinkles his eyebrows like his father does, and points at things in the same way. He loves like I do, widely, and with faith. He believes in the same faith as Rich did, he said, and has every intention of following a druidic way of life when he is grown. He wants to be an armourer like Rich and J, but also to work in the model shop like J does. (I suppose now, that's like J and his father do.)
He is a product of all of us. He is the outcome of lots of loving, lots of prayer and faith of different kinds, of all of us denying ourselves in some way, even if it is just being rude about one another in front of him, or allowing him to choose where he wants to be some weekends, and not taking it personally when he doesn't choose us.
Right now, he is asleep. He has a new snake - a large corn snake called Charlie. He wrapped his arms around me last night and whispered "I love you and I love J." I told him to tell J, and this time he did. He was over the moon not to have an empty viv in his room any more, and for it to be a larger snake that he could hold. He loves Kevin sleeping on his bed as 'his' cat.
All these things are an example of an inner strength that we have all tried to help him find, a way over the emotional pain of losing Rich, Joe-the-fat-cat, and the insanity of the Cali-King snake.
We've all tried to teach him to be his own person, and to accept that pain happens, but it is what we do with it that makes us who we are. We've tried to show him in the way we live our lives.
"Mummy and Daddy don't live together any more, but we can still be friends."
"Rich died, and we love him, and it hurts, but we can love again, differently, and build on what we have."
"Joe had to be put down, because he was dying and in pain, and that hurt us in our hearts, but we did the right thing, and Kevin loves us and needs loving, and that is a good thing."
"All of us want what is best for you and it might not always be what you want, but it will be what is best."
The saying is "Give me a child til the age of 7, and I will give you the man." My 7 year old was hurting and afraid. I hope my 9 year old is the man instead!
And I will break the peace and quiet now, and get the child up, hug him, tell him he is loved as I do every day several times, and I will be proud of him all over again. Deep down, I'll be proud of us all too, for getting over ourselves and putting him first, and not letting him be a divorce statistic child, or a bereavement statistic child, but encouraging him to be the man he wants to be. But not yet. I'd like another holiday (or more!) like we've just had as well!