So why this book?
At this point in this adventure, the majority of people who will be looking at this site will be family and friends. Welcome. You are all familiar with my journey but for those of you in any doubt as to why I want to have this book published, here's why...
Love, guilt, love, yearning and a legacy for Oliver.
Oliver was only four years old when he died with his whole life ahead of him. I loved every curl on his head and he had a smile that would make you stop. Just stop. I remember bustling around my kitchen, laying the table and generally being a busy Mum. I looked up and Oliver was standing there looking at me, just looking at me with a beautiful smile on his face. I stopped what I was doing and looked at him feeling the reciprocal smile spread all over my face. He didn't say anything, just smiled. Calm, quiet, beautiful smile. I often go to that memory. I hold on to it as tightly as I can.
It is easy to feel guilt ridden; all the hours I worked; all the times he said he wanted to play but I needed to cook dinner or get the washing in the washing machine. All the nights he wanted me to read him stories and I would read him two. Only two, he would have had me read him 50. In some households that may be one or two more that you currently read but that's the time I miss the most. Oliver loved his stories at bed-time. He loved Julia Donaldson's many books, he knew most of the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo's Child by heart. He loved Room on the Broom. He loved Oliver Jeffers Lost and Found and the Day the Crayon's Quit. He loved his Usbourne book about trains, he wanted to know about pistons and boilers. He was interested. Engaging. And a beautiful child inside and out.
He had a fabulous imagination of dragons and monsters, like most other three year olds, I imagine. He would build tents using our clothes horse and hang the pillow cases and sheets I had just taken out of the tumble drier or off the line, over the bars. He would peek out from between these, a little fort in which to hide from the dragons. The dragons took many forms. Mummy Dragon was always a friendly dragon I am happy to say. The baby dragon coincidently always took the form of whatever colour his little sister had on that day.
He would go upstairs and stamp his feet to scare away the dragons sometimes roaring at them for good measure. In order to ensure that Oliver wouldn't have nightmares about these dragons, we told him that they would only play during the day. From that he imagined that they flew to Dublin to have cups of tea in the clouds. Anytime he looked outside and I'd ask him if he could see a dragon he would say, "No, they mustn't be back from Dublin yet". Again I am sure it is no coincidence that at the time that was a regular work destination of his Daddy's.
His toy giraffe or Raff as he called it was his favourite thing in the world. Raff went everywhere right up to those final weeks in pre-school when Raff was no longer needed to make the journey. He could stay at home and look after the house. Bed-time was of course another matter. So often our evenings were spent hunting down Raff with Oliver's wails of "I can't go to bed without my Raff!"
When Oliver was in pre-school they asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. Here are some of their answers:
- a driver so I can buy my own car
- a fireman
- a doctor
- a dancer
- a chef
- like mummy... she works at combing her hair
- a mermaid
- a teacher
Oliver... well his response was a little different. He said
- I want to do lots of stuff.
And I thought he would. So here is my legacy to Oliver. In this book at least, he gets to play with Raff and Ben one last time; he gets to see his dragons and spend quality time with his Mummy tracking down his favourite toy. And who knows, maybe there will be other stories of Oliver's adventures.
I would encourage every parent to cherish what moments they can. Every now and then take that moment to stop and just smile at your children. Read to them, take time with them; sometime the washing can wait. Encourage them to do lots of stuff...
Oliver was due to start P1 and his primary school designed a butterfly garden in his memory. I was asked to select a poem or piece of prose if
I wanted to, instead I wrote this:
A place to dream, a place to be
Whatever you want to be, just be.
Whether a butterfly or a busy buzzy bee.
Just always be the best you can be.