The above photographs are of my son on his seventh birthday. This would be his last birthday in our home as a family unit. For the next five long, painful, heartbreaking years, Tristan was barely in my life. Due to my ongoing mental illness, compounded by the evils of drink, my wife thought it best that they leave. She did was she knew was right and I respect what she did.
Five years of desperation, five years of coming so close to killing myself, five years of battling the opposing forces in my mind. Somewhere in that murky fog that surrounded my being, I noticed the flickering light of opportunity. The opportunity to find some clarity, the chance to make amends with those confused by my illness.
I had enough resolve left to reach out for those last fragile threads of my sanity. His visits to me increased. My former spouse, seeing that I was trying so hard to be better, to get better, allowed Tristan to stay on the weekends. He was now nearly twelve, he told me that he was so sad.
My little boy, my little 'man', had to tell his Mother that he was not happy, he wanted to live with Dad. For many a week he thought through how he would tell his Mum. For many a week, I told him that it best that I stayed in the background whilst he wrestled with his dilemma. I knew that if I spoke on his behalf, it would most likely be construed that I had tried to influence him.
All I ever wanted for Tristan was for him to be happy. Regardless of who he lived with. Early September, 200l, my son came to live with me. I recall so vividly that September morning, when he went off to meet new people, make new friends at Westwood high school. In our hallway, he stood in front of the full length mirror and stated: "Dad, I'm well nervous." I gave him a reassuring smile. Off he went, a new start, a new life. I was so proud of Tristan, I can imagine how anxious the thought of starting again must have been.
So now I was a single Father. A single Father battling with his mental health issues. Yet, know I had motivation, a reason to live. I was determined to make my home a warm, safe environment for Tristan and his new friends. I discovered a renewed energy, an invigorating sensation, to get things done. I decorated my home, heck, I even kept it neat. My goodness, I was so house-proud.
Today, I looked out my window, observed the beauty of the garden I created. I reflected back over the last seven years and thought about just how far I've come, indeed, how far we both had travelled. Our journey has been one of much emotional upheaval, with many a high and low. I know that, one day, he will travel down another road. This road will lead to his destiny. I applaud him, I cheer him, I know he will be alright.
My son has bestowed upon me a great gift. The gift of wanting to live. My son has saved my life. For the love of a son, I know that my life has a purpose.