Opinion

Paul McNamee: Seize the special times for the sake of those who can’t

"To have to stare at that abyss of grief Nick Cave and his family now face is almost unimaginable"

A few years ago X Factor finalist Chico had a moment in the sun. Due to his TV popularity, he managed to fashion a career touring venues across Britain, singing roughly but driving big crowd interaction due to his ‘It’s Chico time!’ chant. One of his moments of fame came during a turn in the Aladdin panto in Brighton. And in that audience one night, some eight years ago, Nick Cave was spotted waving a giant foam hand and having a high old time with his kids.

I thought about that last week and felt very, very sad. It was the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard that one of Nick Cave’s sons had died in a terrible fall. Because that boy would have been the son who was with Cave at that moment of merry abandon at the panto.

The grief of losing a child is something none of us ever want to have to endure

Like many people, I listen a lot to Nick Cave’s music. He is a towering talent. He has soundtracked many light and dark moments in my life. Over time he has crafted a cool, dark, dangerous air. But beneath the well-tailored suits, he is a father. And a father who did what many of us must do – and do with joy. Forget entirely whatever pretence of ego we carry, and make sure our kids are happy.

To have to stare at that abyss of grief Nick Cave and his family now face is almost unimaginable. But parents will recognise it as the fear of the worst thing realised. The grief of losing a child is something none of us ever want to have to endure. We want them to outlive us, after we’ve had a good run and got whatever we can get together to help them get ready for life.

I felt similar sadness last week when I read of the death of Jamal Ottun, a London teenager who drowned during a sporting trip to Canada. He left his family to have a great time with his pals and didn’t return. A terrible, terrible thing.

The space between wishing to keep our kids completely out of harm’s way and needing to let them find their own way grows as they do. It’s one of the things we’re not warned about when they arrive.

But let them go everybody must. It is part of life.

Without sounding trite, we must enjoy the moments we have. Things change, moments pass, time gallops.

This coming week I’m going to try to find whatever will be my own giant foam hand and wave it with abandon. It’s a grand thing to be able to do that.

If you have any comments please email me at paul.mcnamee@bigissue.com, tweet @pauldmcnamee, or send a letter to The Big Issue, 43 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 1HW

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