Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dear World; A Letter From Mr Atkinson.

Dear World, 

On 30th January 2018 our world changed forever, when Katie and I lost our beautiful son – Jonah George Atkinson. From this moment until now and probably for ever and always, life has been a bit of a blur so I thought I might try doing what Katie has been doing so eloquently and write down my thoughts – I am a beginner, so please bear with me! 

There are major factors to this story, each as important as the other so I have decided to explain each one and I am sure you will understand why things are not ever going to be how they were before this 30/01/2018. 

We lost our Jonah: For reasons that I will never understand, our son was taken from us too soon and when I look in books, online and speak to people the inevitable ‘too precious for this world’ nonsense is everywhere – I appreciate that this may be comforting to many (I am yet to speak to one of these people) but if this is the case, I would have happily taken a slightly ‘less precious’ son if this meant that he got the chance to know his Mam, know me and to know his wonderful sister, Violet. Anyway, I digress, because in losing Jonah it has shown our little family (#teamatkinson) that Katie, Violet and I have amazing people in our lives, people who have taken the time to ask how we are, lend an ear when one is needed, offer to look after Violet, drop their plans at a seconds notice just to ‘be there’ AND it is this love and support that has helped us to carry on. Thankfully, Violet is too young to understand what has happened and we somehow have managed to keep her in routines and take our moments away from her (but when she does catch us having a little cry, she always comes and gives us a big cuddle along with an audible ‘awwwwwwwww’). 

Where things have been very difficult – beyond the obvious of having a dead child – is dealing with the following: 

1) Jonah was my son too: I must be very careful not to make this in anyway sound like a ‘me, me, me’ post from someone with a terribly fragile masculinity BUT it has been difficult that many forget that Jonah had two parents and we are both grieving. Katie has had a horrific ordeal and should always be the priority when asking how we and if I am honest, when people have asked how I am first or not asked how she is it has really annoyed me BUT over the last few weeks I have noticed that people don’t ask how I am getting on anymore and in some cases have almost prioritised their grief over mine – I am sure that this not intentional but it is bloody annoying. I am lucky that I am a teacher because when stuff gets rough, I can go in to ‘teacher mode’ and power through– this does not mean I am ok, this just means I want to deal with things my way and not your way (though I as write this I feel more positive than I have in a while). 

2) People can be knobs; Last night I stood staring at the table plan from our wedding and it brought about some great sadness as it was a who’s who of people that we have lost touch with, people who shouldn’t have been invited in the first place and people we have been let down by in our biggest time of need. Katie and I have always approached everything as TEAM and if we are honest, haven’t called on people for help when we should have but in the back of your mind you always think that there are people who would support you if you needed them – when people let you down this is hard and it has been made harder as I have been thinking over things that people have been through and I wondered if I had been there enough (some I had, some I hadn’t). On top of everything else we are dealing with we are also having to re-evaluate our relationships and decide who we want / need in our lives and most importantly, who we want to be involved in Violet’s life. Going back to our wedding seating plan – there is a point to this – I couldn’t help feeling sad about the people who weren’t on there, those who only entered our lives after we were married, for example; the person who abandoned her date night and her annual leave to look after Violet, act as a taxi service and clean gallons of blood from the bathroom floor or the person that abandoned work halfway through her shift to come and see me in the hospital, give me a hug when we went to see Katie in intensive care and direct traffic at home or the person I called first, the person I sobbed to much at the morning and the person who gave me the time I needed to get my head together before making some really hard phonecalls – these people know who they are. 

3) Men can’t talk: I am lucky that my best friend (Katie), the majority or my friends and colleagues are women as, byenlarge, men don’t / can’t talk about feelings. I will leave this one there.

4) I was very nearly a single parent: Violet is 20months old (I hate it when people give ages in months) and she loves her Mammy more than anyone, Violet was very close to spending the rest of her life not knowing how amazing her Mammy is and how she would give anything just to keep her safe and happy. As I sat alone in the butterfly room (the room for bereaved parents) at Royal Bolton hospital in complete denial about what was happening, one of the nurses sat me down, held me and told me how bad things were and that I needed to get family to the hospital quickly. Katie had lost 16pints of blood and was dangerously unstable, many professionals had tried to get this across to me but they couldn’t get me to see sense – for this reason I will be eternally thankful to Kirsty for being only the third person ever to get me to see reason (1. Katie 2. Mam 3. Random anaesthetic nurse). I sobbed for most of the day; I sobbed for Violet and her Mammy; I sobbed for me and my wife and I sobbed because I couldn’t remember what song Katie wanted playing at her funeral – Googoo Dolls (Iris) or Train (Drops of Jupiter). Thankfully Katie is a medical miracle and survived but how close we came to losing her is very scary and the sight of the blood gushing out of her; the sight of her in a coma and the guilt of going home after being told to by the Midwife, are things that will not leave me for a long time. But she is here, and Violet and I will just have to hold her even tighter and wrap her up in cotton wool (at least for a little while). There is definitely more to say about this but this is about all I can manage at this stage. 

5) Our parenting plans have changed: To save Katie’s life, she had a hysterectomy, and this is something that is exceptionally difficult for Katie and I to process and to be honest, I don’t think that either of us has started to deal with this extra level of shit, after all how many 27year old have to have this procedure? I would imagine not many. But Katie is strong, we are strong and we will get through. 

Anyway world, we have been dealt a shit hand and it really does feel like the shittest of hands but we have each other and #TeamAtkinson will be ok in the end. There are lots of 
hard times ahead; lots of ‘firsts’ to deal with but I know that Our Jonah will be watching out for the three of us. 

Yours truly, 

Jonathan Atkinson (Husband of a medical miracle and Violet and Jonah’s Daddy)


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