Cape Town mom shares how she wrote a book about losing her husband to Covid-19 – and how her 3 sons helped to make it happen

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Alicia English and her sons, Matthew, Malachi and Joel, have written a book in memory of their late husband and father. (Photo: Supplied) (Photo: Supplied)
Alicia English and her sons, Matthew, Malachi and Joel, have written a book in memory of their late husband and father. (Photo: Supplied) (Photo: Supplied)

When Alicia English lost her husband to Covid-19, she promised herself that his death would not be in vain.

Alicia, who lives in Mitchells Plain with her sons, Malachi (18), Matthew (7) and Joel (3), lost her husband, Noel (45), at the start of this year.

The family has poured their grief into a book, I Miss Daddy, which Alicia says “is not just a way for us as a family to find purpose in our permanent loss, but to also help other deal with their own loss too”.

(Photo: Supplied)
Alicia and Noel had been married for 10 years before he sadly passed away due to Covid-19 related complications earlier this year. (Photo: Supplied)

Noel, recounts Alicia, was a loving father, “who took care of his family and our household, and the boys adored him”.

Two days before Christmas last year, Alicia and Noel (45) both tested positive for Covid-19. “As we isolated together, we were on opposite sides of the bed and I remember how he still took care of me, even though we were both ill.”

The family’s Christmas celebration was subdued, and the following day Noel had to be admitted to hospital.

“Noel had his phone with him in hospital, and every morning and evening, we would video call and the boys would talk to their father.”

Seeing their father in hospital surrounded by machines and oxygen pumps as people around the world were celebrating the holidays and the new year, the family never gave up hope that he would pull through. “He was healthy guy, he didn’t drink or smoke,” Alicia says.

When his condition worsened, Noel was transferred to the intensive care unit, but before he was moved, he had what would be his final phone call with his sons.

“His last words to them were, ‘I love you all.’”

When Alicia was told her husband of ten years had passed away, her first instinct was to protect their children.

She broke the news to Malachi first, “then I explained to Matthew and Joel that daddy was with the angels now”.

“It was not easy, and there are days when it still gets difficult, especially when they miss him.”

(Photo: Supplied)
Matthew and Joel enjoyed spending time with their father, who according to Alicia loved to capture their moments together. (Photo: Supplied)

As Alicia grieved the loss of her husband, she was mindful of her sons’ mourning too.

“It was important for us to still have conversations about Noel because he was a big part of our lives, and as the boys adapted to our new normal without him, it was important that we processed the grief together. It isn’t something we’ll ever complete, but we have to live with it, forever.”

Matthew, she says, often spoke about how deeply he missed his dad.

“He was drawing one afternoon, and he started talking about how much he missed him. I let him tell me how he was feeling, and I started recording his words, which I wanted to turn into a mini book for him for reflection.”

What would’ve been a book for the family to share, became a book which Alicia hopes will help other children who are grieving the loss of loved ones.

(Photo: Supplied)
Matthew and Joel holding the first printed copies of I Miss Daddy. (Photo: Supplied)

“Noel’s life was filled with so much purpose, and it was important for us to find that purpose in his passing.”

The book, which is illustrated by Jay Rabie, is a reminder to those who have lost loved ones that they are not alone. “Children have experienced loss now more than ever and they don’t know how to deal with it,” she adds.

“But this book will help affirm their emotions and feelings of grief and make adults more mindful of these emotions.”

The book launch for I Miss Daddy was on 25 August, on what would’ve been Noel’s 46th birthday.

“I planned something that was still in celebration of him but in his absence.”

READ MORE | I’m only 25 but Covid has left me a widow and a single mom of two tiny children

Alicia founded a project management company, The Olive Exchange, in April, which also published the book.

“We’ve printed 3,000 copies and so far we’ve sold 120 copies,” she says.

The profit from the book sales will be used to print additional copies of the book to donate to disadvantaged schools in her community.

“We want to promote a reading culture in school, and hopefully one day we will be able to translate this book into our other official languages.”

I Miss Daddy can be ordered here at R55 a copy.

“We have made the retail price really affordable because we want to make it accessible to everyone,” says Alicia.

“Covid-19 will not triumph over us, and this book is our way of giving this nasty virus a kick in the butt!” 

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