My ex-wife and I have no siblings and, collectively, a very small family.
I have my mum, who is very unwell, my aunt, who is very well, but both are in their 60′s and both live in London. There is also my cousin who lives in Australia.
My ex-wife has a mum, who she doesn’t talk to and who is also very unwell. She also has two aunts in their eighties, one of whom has dementia, and three cousins in their 50′s, all with grown up children. She doesn’t see them very often, once a year since the children were born, but before that, not for 14 years.
I don’t want judgements or pity. It’s how it is and we can’t change that.
But. When we were married and after our first child was born we felt we should sit down and have the difficult conversation. The bleak one. The dark conversation that brings up thoughts that you never want to entertain. And it came just after we’d had a car crash.
If we both died, what would happen to T?
Who would look after him? Who COULD look after him?
We sat there, safe at home, pissed off about how someone else’s stupid fucking driving could’ve killed us all, or some of us, or just my wife and I, and we found ourselves asking what on earth would happen to T if both of us had died?
We resolved to do something about it. We sat and thought, got a bit sad, scratched our heads but drew blanks. In the end we concluded that the only thing we could do is ask friends, and how can you ask a friend, no matter how close, to actually look after your child in the event of your death? Would you have to sit down with them, draw up and plan, make arrangements, write wills and shit like that?
We didn’t do this, but it was something we though we should do something about. But something stopped us and I can’t remember what it was. It certainly wasn’t the belief that we were indestructible. I think we were worried that someone might say ‘No.’
Is this what godparents are to children? I don’t know as I’m not one and don’t have any. Is this the promise that’s made when you become a godparent?
The same conversation came up when K was born. But we didn’t do anything about it then either. We resolved that we would, but again the fear of asking friends to take on such a role, as guardian to your two children in the event of your deaths, seemed hard. But gosh we wanted to.
We wanted to safeguard them. To protect them. To surround them with people who could be a guiding hand if we were no longer there to be that. People who would love them as we have. Impossible perhaps. Maybe that’s why we never made the phone call, wrote the letter or spoke to anyone about this.
Bleak conversation eh? But one we’ve all had as parents. Surely?
I don’t have any religious faith and neither does my now ex-wife. When you die, I believe, you’re dead, but oddly the thought of not being somewhere looking down on them fills me with an immense sadness. I can’t look down from some higher place and guide them because I don’t believe in that thing. The only thing I can do is teach them things now, and hope that when I’m no longer around that’s enough of a guiding hand.
In some ways the divorce has given us an out, another option. My children live with my ex-wife and so if anything awful ever happened I guess I’d be the one taking care of them. It’s never been discussed but that would be surely how it goes. Perhaps we need that discussion, but I don’t want to have that conversation as I don’t want to think of anything happening to their mummy. She’s a wonderful mother and person, and to discuss this subject with her seems wrong. But perhaps we should. I know we should.
But in the meantime, we all go out on some day trips and mummy and daddy are in the front of the car, and there are some idiotic cunts on the road.
Have you had these conversations? Did you make plans? Have you made plans? Any thoughts, comments and experiences would be most welcome. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have struggled with this difficult subject.
Thanks for reading.