As a single dad to two rambunctious boys, our cover dad Breck Nielson certainly has his hands full. However, through the happy smiles there is a sadness that often overwhelms the father.

Two years ago Breck and the boys lost Clare, Breck’s wife and Jonas and Soren’s mum.

Jonas was nine months old at the time and Soren just over two years old. Clare died due to an infection whilst she was undergoing treatment for leukaemia and the tragic loss shook the family and the community.

breck neilson 1

Clare was an active member of many organisations in Cairns, co-founded the Cairns Autism Spectrum Group and, as Breck tells us, she lived and loved life to it’s fullest.

As we can all imagine, the past two years have been intensely painful for Breck.

“How to explain the experience of losing her is near on impossible,” Breck tells PakMag. “Time stood painfully still, and over the last two years has been slowly getting back to some type of “new normal”.”

And while Breck admits that the big things, like anniversaries and birthdays are painful, but expected, it’s the little things that hurt the most.

“It’s seeing Cadbury’s Cream Eggs for sale, having the knowledge that they were her favourites and you were the only one that knew, the really innocent statements from your three-year-old like, “Can we go on an airplane to see mummy?” or worse, the lack of questions from his younger brother because he doesn’t remember much. You can’t prepare for these things and they just come from nowhere. I call them land minds.”

Soren and Jonas, Breck tells us, are resilient. They are “programmed to love life just like their mummy did. I want my children to grow up with the same sense of adventure and majestic inquisitiveness that she had. It’s big shoes to fill and I know I won’t be able to do it to the same standard as her. That’s just an impossibility. But I can do it the best I can. And that’s my life goal.”

Breck, who is a school teacher and drummer, credits his family and friends as well as The Leukaemia Foundation and the Cairns Base Hospital Oncology department for helping him, Clare and the boys on this incredibly difficult journey.

Life, even without Clare, continues for Breck and his boys.

“They wake up each day and give me the energy to get up and live life,” Breck tells us. Through the sadness, the crippling grief and the pain comes a lesson for Breck and for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one.

“Everyone says that people you love are the only thing that really matters. I always follow telling people that with… “No. You don’t understand. It’s the ONLY thing that matters!”

We want to thank Breck for sharing his story with PakMag and for reminding us about what matters – you’re doing an amazing job with your boys, Breck. Clare would be proud.