of boys and bewilderment; of bunads and books


Three months ago, I lost my first born son, Brendan Bjørn. He was 17 years, 7 months, and 17 days old. He was profoundly disabled and medically fragile. On that day, 17 May 2022, my world fell apart. I had hoped by now I would have more clarity on the direction of the journey ahead, but I don’t.

I am still bewildered.
Unsure of what to do next.

I have another boy who holds the other half of my heart, my youngest son, Declan. I think he’s bewildered, too, although he doesn’t show it like I do. Of course, he did only turned 14 the week after losing his only sibling, so he wouldn’t show it like I do. That’s normal and understandable.

I think we are both bewildered, though.

Declan and I went to Norway last month to see family and friends. I hoped it would help us begin to heal in some way. It may have, and I think it did, but I’m not totally sure because I can’t see very clearly in this bewildered state. My mind races with contradictory thoughts, intertwined with numerous fears, for our futures. What is best for Declan now? What is best for me? What is best for us collectively? What is best for us individually?

I have no answers. Not yet.

I did decide, after years of contemplation, which bunad (traditional folk clothing which represents different regions of Norway) I someday want to get. That’s about as far as my decision making in the past 3 months has gone. Still, I’ll look forward to the day I go in for a fitting of my bunad and can wear it at a Syttende Mai (Norway’s constitution day) parade.

It’s a seemingly small thing in the scope of my life currently, but it’s the small things which are giving me reprieve from my life’s pain and bewilderment.

So what do I want to do with myself now that I am no longer a carer? Again, I don’t know. My health is not what it was years ago. I’ll be 57 in December. And to be very honest, in my broken, bewildered state, I wonder, how many years do I even have left? I feel panicked when I think of that, but it is a thought which comes to mind all too often lately.

Books. I have decided to try and finally write (ok, finish) the books I have started. But will that be enough to financially sustain us? Am I even capable of working a fulltime job as an employee anymore? Or will I be capable down the road and it’s just that it’s too soon right now and so this all feels too overwhelming?

Again, I have no answers. Not yet.

While Declan and I were in Norway last month, our family invited us to come back there next May for Syttende Mai to celebrate the national day with them. You would be surrounded by family, one cousin said, on that very special day…which is also the date Brendan Bjorn died. That is why it was suggested to me. It will be the first anniversary of his passing next Syttende Mai, and I’m thinking, at least right now, it would be a good idea to do that. The other option is for us to be home here in Ireland, just me and Declan alone, on what will be an extremely difficult day.

I have no answers for them. Not yet.

I won’t have a bunad by then, but hopefully I’ll have made good progress on at least one book.

I likely won’t be completely free of feeling bewildered, but hopefully much more so.

I won’t have both of my boys physically there with me, but I will have one in my heart and the other one whose hand I can hold.

I think for now I need to not expect the answers, but just allow more healing to happen.
The answers will come in time. At least, I hope they will.

Norway, July 2022