Co-parenting with my deceased husband

Raising our son & honouring his dad

Heather McLeod
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readOct 10, 2023

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A dad reads to his toddler son.
Brock died of kidney cancer a week after our son’s fourth birthday.

I’ve had my husband’s voice in my head since he died 5.5 years ago, advising me & telling me his thoughts on situations. It’s always been a happy, comforting, helpful experience.

BROCK: I’d order the caramel macchiato with an apple fritter.

Actually, I should clarify: it’s not his voice I hear, but rather echoes of memories, or associations. One day, I mixed manure into a flower bed, and “heard” Brock say I should add peat moss, to retain moisture. He’ll suggest I park closer to the loading zone, to be more efficient. Or he scolds me gently when I don’t take the time to coil the hose.

These echoes aren’t audible. They’re memories suffused with warm energy. I feel happy and loved. But this week, Brock’s voice was so loud I couldn’t think my own thoughts. It was a roar of energy: frenetic, like a tsunami in my head.

I started considering distance learning / homeschooling for our son’s grade five year, and suddenly Brock got excited.

BROCK: Let’s do it!

Hold on, I have to think this through…I tried to make my pros/cons lists, I tried consulting with friends and family and teachers, I Googled online schools and made a spreadsheet of what I liked and didn’t like, I emailed and phoned to check details… The whole time, I had Brock talking in my head, abuzz with excitement. It was overwhelming.

That little spark, when I realized I could take our kiddo out of normal school, set off a chain reaction of Brock-memories.

Brock cared about education — quality education, classical education — more than any other issue. He wrote essays and prosthelytized to friends over wine about the importance of critical thought, learning and good citizenship. When he died, we established two bursaries to support critical thinkers in his memory. If my husband had lived, he would have started homeschooling Zack years ago, to ensure he received the best education possible.

Homeschooling is the last thing I ever thought I’d do. When our kid started kindergarten, I cartwheeled the whole way home, giddy with freedom after five years of being a full-time mom.

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Heather McLeod
Human Parts

Writing about losing my young husband to cancer, grief, widowhood & this new, Plan B life. www.heathermcleod.ca https://www.buymeacoffee.com/heathermcleod