I often think of the movie Sliding Doors. Only for me it isn’t a moment here or there that can change the path of my life, it is an actual feeling of living two different lives simultaneously. There is the real life with very real actions and conversations and then there is the life in my head which runs alongside; the one where I am constantly aware of what Oscar would be doing at this point or I dream of what he would be doing, saying, feeling – this includes great moments and more challenging moments. It feels good and important to keep Oscar alive in a real way because he was so much more than just a boy with cancer. He was a sports hero to his friends (I can say this because they told me so), he was tenacious and a perfectionist who wanted to do well in everything he did, and he was also challenging in temper – mainly for me and never with his peers. Oscar would find a convincing and charming way to argue that black is white and be very strong in his view points. All attributes that makes for a complex, loving and loved boy. Oscar had soul and he was always going to make his mark on the world.
So in my Sliding Doors the doors just keep sliding and once in a while catching me and I wonder if this will be forever – well, my forever. Will I go to bed every night wondering if the next morning I have to wake up and tell myself to get it together or tell myself how lucky I am to have had him in my life. Or will I wake up and jump out of bed and get on with the morning as any normal family do – I never know which.
I want to talk a little about Oscar’s brothers. Seb and Lucas were everything to Oscar and he was to them. We are lucky that they are still comfortable talking about Oscar and this shouldn’t be taken for granted. If we as adults don’t understand death, how are they as children supposed to understand it. And in our family, it’s not just death we have to deal with but the fact that Oscar suffered before he died. Part of how we deal with it is by turning our emotions into actions and trying to help so other children may one day suffer less when met with the same diagnosis as Oscar. Oscar’s brothers are a huge part of this and Seb has even stood up and done talks to his school friends and teachers – all 1400 of them – and Lucas will come out and talk to the public when we have a stand at events and he is very matter of fact when he tells people that we raise money for his dead brother so others don’t die.
I look at my boys and the fear for me will always be that one of them could get cancer too. Roughly one child in 285 develop cancer before the age of 20. I don’t see those odds as rare and, as proven by my family, someone has to be the one. I don’t know if they have the same fear or if they fear losing me and their dad, especially after Ian was ill last year, but it’s probably a pretty good guess to say they do. I guess the best thing we can do is equip them with the tools to be able to handle whatever comes their way and show them that they have support around them. And I think we do that by also showing our support and how much we want to do for others.
Milo has started mentioning Oscar now as well. It’s difficult to know what a 3 year old thinks, and we don’t talk about Oscar to him all the time, but he has obviously got a good sense that he has a brother he never got to meet. There is at least one picture of Oscar in every room of the house and Milo knows that this is his brother, that he was great fun and loved playing with his brothers, that he was happy and loved being active and that he would have loved Milo as much as he did Seb and Lucas, had he been lucky enough to meet him in this life. The other day Milo said “Oscar and I match, don’t we?” – he was talking about the colour of his and Oscar’s scooters – but it did make me think that yes they do match. All my boys match. One way or another they are connected and matching each other – four brothers, four souls, four individuals, individual yet intertwined forever.