When Hearing isn’t Listening

I’ve said numerous times in the last four months that I didn’t know that Barry was having problems, but the more I think about that, the more I know that it is not entirely true. For if it was, why did I go up to him and ask if he wanted to talk about anything? Why did I feel the need to ensure that he knew he could come to me and talk if he needed to?

Deep down, I had picked up that something was wrong, or different. Something had changed. I was concerned, and so was Daniel. Neither of us understood the depth of the problems.

Now, four months later, I find myself saying those same things to Daniel. I feel the need to ensure he knows that he has someone he can talk to … about anything. I have told him this dozens of times, but it was only this week that I realised that although Daniel had heard the words, he wasn’t actually listening. He didn’t believe.

Events of the past week have been damaging to my family. We have suffered greatly. The small spark for life that we had recovered since losing Barry had been extinguished. We suddenly found ourselves standing in the dark … with our support system gone!

I found myself repeating words over and over again. But I also saw that my words were not reaching Daniel’s brain in the manner in which they were said. I couldn’t understand why…until I discovered that I was doing the exact same thing. It was only then that my eyes were opened and I realised what was happening.

Barry heard, but he didn’t listen. I lost him. Daniel heard, but didn’t listen. I almost lost him. I heard, but didn’t listen. I was in danger of losing myself.

We are so mixed up in our own problems, and our own worries, that we are not able to concentrate on words from another person. We want to, we try to, but the focus is not there. We think we hear the words, but we don’t, and then we wonder why everything continues to go wrong.

The words that snapped me out of this place were, “I thought you hated me.”

The words themselves were enough, but coupled with the look of bewilderment on Daniel’s face and the tone of his voice, I realised that he hadn’t been listening to my constant reassurances that I love him. Something didn’t allow him to believe that.

Gary often says that love is a doing word. Anyone can say they love someone, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you follow it up with action. People show love by what they do for that person. It doesn’t have to be expensive presents and weekends away. Often the simple things we do for someone is enough.

Although, I’ve said the words and have put those words into action since Barry’s passing, it became obvious to me that Daniel didn’t believe me until I said the one thing that he needed to hear, which I had said in a round about way many times. But never assume people understand what you mean, tell them directly so that there is no chance of misunderstandings.

I told Daniel that I could never hate him. No matter what happens between us, around us, I could never hate him. He is my son and I love him. Nothing will ever change that. And I told him that if he ever found himself in a bad situation that he could come to me day or night. He would always have a bed in my house.

It was the last sentence that he needed to hear. That was the sentence that penetrated his brain. That was when I saw him relax.

I couldn’t understand why he didn’t already know that. But it’s quite simple really. Things between Daniel and I have not always been rosy. We have been through a lot in the past and I guess he didn’t fully believe me when I said that I had let all that go. Deep in his mind, Daniel believed that my love was conditional. It’s not.

My words had given Daniel another option. An option that I believed he knew existed, but he didn’t. I look back at my youngest son, Barry, and wonder what he didn’t know that I thought he did. Never assume anything. Even when you say the words, it isn’t enough. Show those closest to you that you love them. It’s the only way they will believe your words. It’s the only way they will stop hearing and start listening.


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