Daddy for just 3 weeks

It was going to take more than a kiss to wake you from this nightmare...

Published by: Jane Cohen and Amy Thompson
Published on: 10th June 2010

Dear Neil,
Bikes, bikes and more bikes…that’s all I ever heard about when we first met, especially when I brought you home to meet my kids Cory-Jay, 10, and Shanaide, seven.
Listening to you and Cory nattering away on the sofa watching Top Gear, I thought nothing could ever trump your passion for motorbikes.
Until I fell pregnant.
‘I’m gonna be a daddy!’ you beamed. Anyone would think you’d won the lottery!
In the two years we’d been together, Neil, you’d treated my kids like they were your own, helping with their homework and letting Cory help you in the garage when you worked on your Suzuki motorbike.
You’d missed out on them being babies, so now here was your chance to be a dad from the start.
When we found out I was having a boy, you were straight down the shop, picking up clothes and toys for him.
‘Please, no motorbikes,’ I begged, as you side-stepped the babygros and made a beeline for anything to do with bikes.
When Bailun was born last October, weighing 6lb 15oz, he was perfect. ‘He’ll make a lovely pageboy at our wedding,’ I smiled.
We’d already talked about getting married, but I’d wanted to wait until Bailun was here to enjoy the day.
‘I’m not sure,’ you joked. ‘He might upstage me.’
Taking our little boy home, Cory and Shanaide were besotted. Not nearly as much as you were, though.
I’d thought I’d never see the day something kept you out of the garage – yet there you were, strapping Bailun into his baby buggy.
‘I thought we could all go for a stroll around the park,’ you smiled, as the kids put on their shoes.
‘Good idea,’ I nodded, reaching out for Bailun’s pram. ‘Do you want me to push?’
‘No!’ the three of you cried at once. I burst out laughing as you bickered over who got to push the buggy first.
As the days rolled by, I barely got a look-in. Even when Bailun woke up in the night, you’d be by his side with his bottle, even though you had to get up early for work as a motor mechanic.
And from the moment you got home, to the minute you went to bed, he’d be snoring peacefully in your arms.
‘You know, you can put him down,’ I chuckled. ‘He’s not going anywhere.’
‘He’ll never go without,’ you promised, gazing at him lovingly. ‘I’ll make sure this little man’s going to have it all.’
You weren’t wrong, either. I remembered when Bailun was just a day old, you’d come to the hospital with a neat little box tied with a bow.
Opening it, you’d pulled out what was inside, holding it up for me to see and admire.
‘A designer t-shirt?!’ I’d said in surprise, seeing the Diesel logo across a navy blue baby top. ‘How much did that cost?’
‘Only £25,’ you’d shrugged, pulling it over Bailun’s head.
‘Only!’ I’d snorted. ‘He’ll grow out of it in five minutes.’
‘Then I’ll get him a new one,’ you’d winked.
Now I shook my head laughing.
‘What on earth will you be like when he’s older?’ I muttered.
The following weekend, I insisted you went out and had some time to yourself. You deserved a break.
‘Well, I haven’t seen my mate Craig in a while,’ you admitted. ‘It’d be nice to take the bike for a spin.’
‘Go,’ I said. ‘Have fun. We’ll be here when you get back. It’s not as though Bailun’s going to start walking at three weeks!’
‘All right,’ you replied, kissing me. ‘Won’t be long.’
Settling on the sofa with Bailun after putting the kids to bed, I smiled. He looked so much like you with his hazel eyes and lips that turned up at the corners as though he was always smiling.
I couldn’t have been happier – it was a rotten night outside, but I was snuggled in front of the fire.
Hearing the wind whistling made me cuddle my baby boy that little bit closer.
When I heard a knock at the door a few hours later, I thought you’d forgotten your key.
But opening it to see two police officers outside, my heart stopped.
‘Can I help?’ I asked, anxiously.
‘Are you Neil Watkins’ partner?’ replied one officer.
I nodded, confused.
Stepping back, I let them in, and sat down on the sofa.
‘I’m afraid we have some bad news,’ the first officer said. ‘Neil was on his way home when there was an accident.’
Instantly, I was on my feet, grabbing my bag. ‘Is he in hospital? I’ll get my neighbour to watch the kids…’ I gabbled.
‘No,’ she said. ‘Becky, Neil died at the scene. He was riding through hailstones and strong winds. His bike mounted the pavement and hit a lamppost. I’m sorry. There was nothing anyone could do.’
‘No!’ I sobbed, collapsing to the floor. ‘No, no, no!’
My mind reeled. You were only 28, but I knew you didn’t drive dangerously. You were always on about safety to Cory when we’d got him a little electric bike.
What on earth had possessed you to drive in those conditions?
Suddenly, my eyes fell on Bailun, asleep in his Moses basket. Had you been rushing to get home,  desperate for every precious second with our son?
You’ll never see our little boy grow up or take him out to the garage to help you work, never spoil him rotten again. For three short weeks, you’d been the best daddy in the world. Now, in a cruel twist of fate, our baby went from having the best daddy to no daddy.
The days passed in a blur of grief. The kids were devastated.
The only comfort was knowing Bailun was too little to understand.
At your funeral, I had a wreath of blue flowers in the shape of a motorbike placed on your coffin.
Some people might’ve thought that was strange, given how you died. But next to being a dad, it’d always been something you loved.
Later, I had my surname legally changed to yours. We’d never have Bailun as our pageboy, but it made me feel closer to you.
Bailun’s now six months old, and he looks more like you each day. I wish you could see him. He’s sitting up now, and has the biggest smile when someone he loves walks into the room – I know he would have saved his brightest one for you.
I’ve made memory boxes for the kids with photos of you, your motorbike keys, and the designer t-shirt you bought for Bailun.
I want them always to remember what a fantastic daddy you were.
I always joked about how much time you spent hogging Bailun when he was born.
Now, I’m glad you soaked up every second with our son.
You crammed a lifetime of love into three weeks, and I’ll make sure he knows that… I promise.
Love always,
Becky xxx
Becky Watkins, 28, Swansea, Glamorgan