The Dragon Slayer

I used to be a dragon slayer. It was years ago, back when I had to shove spagetti arms into coat sleeves and chase small children into shoes so we could spend time outside.  I'd follow Fric and Frac about as I pushed Bug about in a stroller or a wagon, watching them trip over blades of grass and pull up fistful of dandelions with their chubby little hands to proudly give to me.

As my kids explored the Great Outdoors I'd weave grand tales about invisible fairy worlds, where dragon flies were the Royal transportation for magical princesses and beetles the bus for the commoners. Entire communities would live in the reeds of our slough and wild mushrooms housed irksome gnomes. I took my cues from the nature around us and I spun stories so fine that Charlotte's Web looked like the ratty tapestry of a blind person learning to knit.

My kids would spend hours hanging on my every word, entranced with the fiction I concocted for them and I soaked up their joy like a sponge does a spill. I knew my time as their dream weaver and dragon slayer was fleeting, for soon they would find their own dreams to weave, their own dragons to slay. They would be pulling on the reigns of freedom to find their own and create a world I would never fully see.

Eventually, the day finally came when my children clumsily stomped out of my fairy world and into their own; preferring to create their own fiction with their friends rather than be enchanted with mine.

I miss those days. I miss being their invincible dragon slayer.

Those were the days my kids were innocent and untouched by the grim realities of life. Before they understood disabilities and disappointments; before they met Death and felt his presence in their young lives so vividly.

I wish desperately, I could bundle up Fric and Frac and now Jumby too, and wrap them in the innocence of the fairy tales I spin to keep them safe and warm and away from the harsh embrace of Life.

Death dissolved any traces of pixie dust my children had. I've fought hard over the past four years to reintroduce the magic of life to my children, to show them that life goes on and wonder continues. But it hasn't been easy. I can't erase the past and give them back their childhood innocence, no matter how silly I am, or how many times I make them laugh.

But I try.

There isn't a day that goes by in which I don't question myself and wonder if I'm failing them.

I couldn't protect Fric or Frac or Bug four years ago, nor can I erase the pain Jumby experienced at the hands of a violent man. All I can do is love them and try to give them the tools they will need to flourish in this new life we have all found ourselves in while promising to protect them forever.

Two weeks ago, that promise wasn't enough. Life once again banged on my family's door and took yet another sliver of innocence away from my children.

A stranger altered the landscape of our family once again.

There is nothing I can do to erase this pain my child now harbours, nothing I can do to wipe this foul memory from existence.

It's a terrible feeling to watch your child suffer and to wrestle with the what-if's. What if I didn't leave this child alone? What if I had my cell phone on? What if Boo was home?

I failed my child, if only by not preventing this tragedy. I failed to protect my child.

For two weeks I have now seethed and raged at the world, angry my child has to bear yet more scars from a childhood trauma. A trauma which should never have happened from a man who should have known better.

Once again, I feel helpless, wandering around this vast wilderness of parenthood and wondering how I can put the pieces of my child together again.

I am tired of tragedy bleeding onto the pages of my family's history and I'm scared to turn the page to find that I have yet another dragon to slay. My armour is threadbare and falling off these days and my vulnerability is exposed, an open invitation for the next monster to bite into.

So I continue to do what I have done for the last four years. I wrap myself around my children and whisper stories of courage and strength into their ears and hold them tight when the monsters invade their dreams at night.

I can't undo dead brothers or battered babies or grown up atrocities, but I can love them. I set the example of rising above, meeting the challenge, while shining a light on the scary things that threaten to undo us all.

My arm is tired from waving around this heavy sword while battling life's injustices on their behalf and I worry I will falter and once more fail my children. I fear my children will see through my facade and see me for who I really am: Just a woman who loves her kids, not the dragon slayer I tell them I am.