Loss, Neil Gaiman and the gaming community: my story

In 2012 my wife and I lost a daughter to a rare genetic condition which affects around 1 in 100,000 births, or doing the maths, just 10 in every 1 million.

The trauma of reliving these events every day, and imagining what kind of a life our little girl would have had, was – and remains – absolutely crushing.

The best way I’ve come across to explain it is through this short lullaby which Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, wrote for The Graveyard Book.

Sleep now little babby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake, you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken
Kiss a lover
Dance a measure
Find your name
And buried treasure
Face your life
It’s pain, it’s pleasure
Leave no path untaken.

Our daughter never would get to face her life, or find her buried treasure. While life can be painful and there is always plenty you would want to protect your children from, equally there is so much you wish for them to explore.

My wife and I are now blessed to be the proud parents of a happy and healthy 19-month-old girl who keeps us on our toes, and who already has her first card games. We know that without our painful experiences, she would not be here with us.

The small daughter

Why am I telling you this?

My blog doesn’t have a big audience but it does get a few hits when I post something new. I’ve also had some nice feedback for what I’m trying to do here.

My aim was simple. I set out to provide the kind of information that I needed when I started gaming; to offer advice to people who can usually only play two player games. My usual gaming partner is my wife, for instance.

Readers will know Carcassonne, the ‘modern classic’ eurogame, was our first purchase. A friend brought it over. At first I couldn’t quite fathom the rules, but several games later I was off to our friendly local games shop to buy my own copy.

In gaming my wife and I had discovered a shared hobby, something we could enjoy and experience together that was wholly new and had no links to those tough times.

Now, I’m not trying to claim that ‘board games changed my life’ or anything quite that dramatic, but they’ve made a positive difference, and I wanted to share my story.

This may not be what you were expecting when you searched for a two player board gaming blog, but I know the gaming community is a close one. There is a reason for this post.

I’m an enthusiastic follower of The Dice Tower, and have seen the good that Tom Vasel is doing with the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund in memory of the son he lost.

I’d urge anyone touched by his cause or even my short post to take a look at the fund’s website and help in any way you can.

There is an awesome auction taking place over on Boardgamegeek to raise money, closing on November 14.

P.S. if you’ve not read the Graveyard Book, you really need to check it out. And don’t even get me started on The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Holy cow that’s a book.


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