Former Disney animator Gary Andrews keeps a diary every evening, charting his 6-month journey from his wife’s unexpected death (she died suddenly from sepsis) and the struggles he faces raising their two young children. The drawings, in simple pen, squeezes my heart. They’re so poignant, hopeful, sweet.

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And yes, painful,too.

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There are often teardrops on the sketches. Gary’s. I can feel his pain and wish for light for him and his family again. if you have truly loved, the recovery will be slow but every step you take on your own is a celebration of the past steps you had taken with your loved one, because Love lives on. To follow Gary on twitter, click here.

My friend Nico lost his wife two years ago, when he was 37 and she 44. Their much-wanted triplet boys, conceived via IVF, were only four then. From a busy, corporate father, he was suddenly a full-time dad to three shell-shocked little boys wanting their stay-at-home mum all the time. They would look for Mummy everywhere. He had to learn how to be Mummy, but in the process, he lost a part of his old self.

“What were you like before?” I asked him.

“Hmm. Just more laughing. More energy. I make jokes more. My mad Italian jokes that’s a waste of time because nobody understands them. But I like them, because they are my past, my childhood. Back in Italy, back in those days, with my friends.”

Last Christmas, they went to the Plum Village in France, the home of my spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) because he couldn’t bear to do a usual Christmas without Beth. I wrote about it here : A different Christmas

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Since then, Nico has been exploring Buddhism a little. I send him the odd snippets that I find about Thay’s words. He jokes that I should write a manual for bereaved parents trying to rebuild their lives for their children.

Anyway, he recently decided to take down the over-powering portrait of his late wife in the living room of their home and replace it with a smaller, more discreet photograph. So he told the boys that they shouldn’t be sad, Mummy is not in the ground or in photographs but in their hearts always, and that she is probably rebirthed into a happy new life. “Therefore we must be happy for her and be happy ourselves, too.”

But litte Berti told him, “I don’t my Mummy to be born somewhere else. I want her to belong to us always.”

Dear Rossi boys (and Nico), May The Long Time Sun Shine Upon You:

May the Long Time Sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light
within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on

May the Long Time Sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light
within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on