A Father’s Day Essay

I was recently contacted by the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization about writing a piece on Father’s Day for their newsletter…below is what I came up with.

From A Father’s Perspective. by Liam’s Dad
It’s hard when people forget to tell you “Happy Father’s Day!” because they don’t see the child that you have. It’s hard to watch and hear other people tell stories about how they get to go do something special with their kids on Father’s Day, and we have to go to a cemetery (or memorial spot) to spend the day together. But the truth doesn’t lie with everyone else.
This is the third Father’s Day that I spend as a grieving parent.
I was not supposed to know what it felt like to spend three Father’s Days as a grieving parent. Father’s Day celebrations that I had dreamed about did not look like this. But here I find myself, like all of you, grappling with the idea that I am a father without one of my children.
Two days shy of being two months old, our son Liam, died in February of 2011. As June rolled around a few months later, the thought of a “Father’s Day celebration” seemed like an idea that was far away from what my emotions could handle. Even saying the words created a pit in my stomach. I actually tried to mentally prepare myself for the day, but as you all know, no amount of ‘preparation’ actually compared to how the day presented itself.
June 19, 2011 was an emotional roller coaster that lasted all day long. It was worse than I thought it would be. As parents, and as fathers, our expectation is that we will work tirelessly to provide for our families. We will do whatever it takes to care for them, and that we will exist in concert with our spouses to ensure that every opportunity is given to them. We cherish that we will laugh, hug, and buy ice cream. We support, and mentor our children; and under no circumstances will we let anything bad happen to them. This is what Father’s Day celebrates. It has nothing to do with the legal fact that you conceived a child; rather that you are that child’s loving and caring parent. And when it is all taken away from you, it’s difficult to cope with what the day actually means.
The truth is that we may not have been able to take our kids out for an ice cream; but we have shown them in our time together that we love, care, and cherish them. However that time was spent for however long or short it was. We are reminded of this through the pain and the exhaustive loss that is felt every day, especially on Father’s Day.
I wish that I could tell you that it has gotten easier over the last two years, and that entering the third time around, I have been able to focus only on the ‘love, love, love.’ But that would be a lie.
The day has not gotten easier. The celebration has lost almost all of its luster. Sometimes on Father’s Day I feel ashamed, sometimes I do feel love, and sometimes I feel satisfied; but I always feel incomplete.This year, I am committing to doing one thing: smile more. I will look at the amazing pictures that I have of Liam and me, I will say his name, and I will try to remember that Father’s Day 2013 is celebrating the time that I had with Liam, not the time that I have been without.

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