Twenty years ago today we welcomed the arrival of our second son, Dan.
His then-four year old sister wasn’t impressed. She’d wanted a sister because she knew brothers died.
We didn’t know it then, but she was right. A few weeks later it was confirmed that Dan had the same brain disorder which had killed his brother Tom when he was just 20 weeks old.
Dan defied predictions and lived much longer, surviving until 10 days after his fifth birthday. But he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than he could when he was born.
It’s now 20 years since he was born, almost fifteen since he died. A lot has happened since then, some of it wonderful, some very bad and most of it in between.
Every now and then we think about the boy and young man Dan might have been and we do so with rose tinted specs, because while children who die can’t do the good things parents hope they might, they don ’t do the bad things we dread either.
When Dan’s condition was diagnosed and after he died a lot of people said how lucky we were we had our daughter. I agreed, though not for the reasons most seemed to be thinking of. Children aren’t like pieces in a dinner set which, if one gets broken, can be replaced with another.
However, as well as letting me experience the joys of parenting, having another child also meant I didn’t suffer from any delusions that I’d be a perfect mother with perfect children.
While I’ve blogged quite a bit about our sons, and called them by their names I say little about our daughter because I don’t think it’s fair to her. However, having made that comment about neither of us being perfect, I feel the need to clarify that that doesn’t mean we’ve had any major problems, just that she did the things normal children do, some of which parents wish they wouldn’t.
But today I’m not thinking about those things, just remembering the wee baby meeting his four year old sister and the excitement and love we experienced 20 years ago.
We named our baby Dan, not Daniel, and that’s what he was called, never Danny. But summer had gone and the roses were fading when he died which made this song even more appropriate for his funeral.
Because it’s New Zealand Music Month, I’ve chosen the version sung by Hayley Westenra and dedicate it to all the other members of that non-exclusive club for bereaved parents.