Catastrophe star Rob Delaney has shared a heartbreaking extract of a book he started writing about his son’s brain tumour battle, but was unable to finish when his two-year-old son died in January this year.
Henry’s cancer returned in the autumn of 2017, and his devastated father stopped writing because the family ‘just wanted to be with Henry around the clock and make sure his final months were happy. And they were.’
Revealing why he decided to share extracts of the book now, the 41-year-old revealed he ‘didn’t want to sit on it, in case it could make anyone else feel less insane.’
In an essay for Medium he explained how his initial aim had been to let other parents of seriously ill children that ‘someone understood and cared’.
‘But I can’t write that book anymore because our family’s story has a different ending than I’d hoped for,’ he explained.
He described crying as he listened to recordings of his son babbling before a tracheotomy rendered him unable to speak for a whole year, and his ‘golden’ smile lighting up his face, which was paralysed on one side.
Catastrophe star Rob Delaney, 41, has shared a heartbreaking extract of a book he started writing about his son Henry’s brain tumour battle, but couldn’t finish when his two-year-old son died in January this year. Pictured: Father and son together during Henry’s illness
Rob Delaney’s young son Henry was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 and had surgery to remove it, but the cancer returned in the Autumn of 2017
‘I’m always, always happy to enter the hospital every morning and see him. It’s exciting to walk into his room and see him and see him see me,’ he explained.
‘The surgery to remove his tumor left him with Bell’s palsy on the left side of his face, so it’s slack and droops. His left eye is turned inward too, due to nerve damage.
‘But the right side of his face is incredibly expressive, and that side brightens right up when I walk into the room. There’s no doubt about what kind of mood he’s in, ever.
‘It’s particularly precious when he’s angry because seeing the contrast between a toddler’s naked rage in one half of his face and an utterly placid chubby chipmunk cheek and wandering eye in the other is shocking in a way that makes me and my wife and whatever combination of nurses and/or doctors are in the room laugh every time.
An extract from Rob Delaney’s unpublished book about his son
My biggest fear had always been that I wind up somehow being conscious for eternity. Like that I die, wind up in heaven or hell or wherever and I remain ‘me’ and just never shut off and have to endure being conscious and aware and nothing is wonderful enough or horrible enough to engage me for that long, i.e. eternity.
That might be a factor in the heavy drinking I quit fifteen years ago; the idea that I could really effectively hit my own consciousness’ kill switch as needed. Might also be why I’ve always enjoyed naps more than food or money.
That fear went away when my wife and I had kids. Or boys, specifically. My sperm only makes boys for some reason. The fear went away because I realized I could now do eternity and be okay.
I could just call to mind the image of one of my sons, or the smell of their heads, or the feel of one of their little feet in my hand and I’d be happy. Give me a Polaroid of one of them to hold on to and I could do two eternities.
‘And when he smiles, forget about it. A regular baby’s smile is wonderful enough. When a sick baby with partial facial paralysis smiles, it’s golden. Especially if it’s my baby.’
The actor tragically lost his two-year-old son to cancer in January this year and confirmed his death in a Facebook post in February, telling fans he would ‘endeavour to not go mad with grief’.
He also paid tribute to his ‘smart, funny and mischievous’ child in an emotional Facebook post.
‘Henry was a joy,’ wrote Delaney. ‘He was smart, funny, and mischievous and we had so many wonderful adventures together, particularly after he’d moved home following fifteen months living in hospitals.’
In his message, Delaney, 41, explained that Henry was diagnosed after suffering persistent vomiting and weight loss, shortly after he turned one.
The toddler underwent surgery to remove a tumour in addition to further treatment, spending a gruelling 15 months in hospital. But his family were told his cancer had returned in the autumn of 2017.
‘Sweet boy’: The actor and comedian shared a snap of his little boy, Henry, who died in January following a battle with a brain tumour, with his Twitter followers
‘I am desperately sad, but I will endeavor to not go mad with grief’: Catastrophe’s Rob Delaney revealed his youngest son died aged two from a brain tumor (pictured together in May 2015)
‘He was smart and mischievous’: The Catastrophe star, who now lives in London, revealed the devastating news in a Facebook post on Friday (pictured in April 2016)
While brain surgery had left his son with ‘significant physical disabilities’, the toddler found his own ways to overcome his challenges.
‘He quickly learned sign language and developed his own method of getting from A to B shuffling on his beautiful little bum,’ Delaney wrote at the time.
‘His drive to live and to love and to connect was profound.’
Delaney also paid tribute to the NHS staff who cared for his son, saying Henry’s doctors and nurses would be ‘my heroes until the day I die’.
He also praised the support the family had received from the charities Rainbow Trust, and Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.
Fame: Delaney stars as Rob in the comedy Catastrophe, alongside Sharon Horgan (pictured), the two write and starred in the show together, basing it on their own lives
Doting dad: Delaney shared a picture of him cradling his son to Instagram in June 2015 with the caption ‘#ChristianDadsWhoVape’
Devastating news: The actor announced the death of his youngest child in a heartfelt and moving tribute, in which he asked for donations to the charities which helped his family
Touching: He shared this snap to Instagram captioned: ‘I put big boy underpants on my baby’ (pictured in May 2015)
Massachusetts-born comedian Delaney first came to prominence on Twitter, sharing his jokes on the platform.
After developing a huge following, he was signed up to shoot a pilot for Comedy Central.
The show was not picked up, however Delaney went on to co-write and co-star in Catastrophe with Sharon Horgan, taking inspiration for the show from their own lives.
The hit Channel 4 show has now run for three series.