Sunday, June 21, 2015

a father's day

A special guest post by Joan's Dad.

How many kids do you have?  That should be an easy enough question.  It’s a question that really seems like a throw away, like, “How was the drive (or flight)? Or “How was the food?”  It’s a softball.  The kind of question that’s more to fill time and either keep a conversation going or start it.  It’s a warm-up swing question.  There should be nothing wrong with it.  Except.  Except when the real answer is a bit more painful than recounting the number of children you’ve gotten out of diapers.  In that case it can detonate the conversation like someone out for a stroll stepping on a mine in a dormant battlefield.  It’s just so unexpected.
How do I answer?  My most common answer is to use some permutation that we lost our first daughter and her little sister is at home driving her mommy crazy.  Why do I answer that way when I know that it can make people uncomfortable or clam up?  I answer that way for a few reasons.  First, it’s the truth, and nothing in the truth is linked to comfort of anyone, A is A.  Whether it gives you chills or a warm and fuzzy.  Joan is my daughter and she’s gone, but my love for her is not.  Secondly, I’m a parent.  Parents talk about their children.  I want to talk about mine.  Not at length, but for a second in conversation, I’ll mention the children that I love just like any other parent would.  Third, there is nothing in me that has any desire to disconnect with my daughter or her memory.  Ever.
Father’s day is an odd one.  I appreciate the sentiment of it, but I always view it through the prism of my life and that means that Father’s Day is about my dad, not me.  Father’s day is also when you get asked about your children the most by people who are generally well-meaning.  They understand that as a father you want to talk up your children, and they are giving you a chance to do so.  Queue my answers and the ensuing gallery of stranger’s faces from lack of recognition to genuine sadness and all stops in between.
The Father’s day while we were waiting for Joan was specifically difficult.  We knew about the diagnosis, we knew statistically what we were facing and most outside of our inner circle only knew that we were pregnant.  There were a lot of things that I couldn’t say but wanted to.  It was a challenge, and I just laid low and let it pass.  Since that first father’s day, I’ve felt largely the same.  I know that there are traditions with ties or ceramic ash-trays that I am sure we’ll go through with Vivian, but we’re just not at that stage.
As Father’s day is a pseudo holiday there is some level of giftery. Hmm. I think that I just made that up.  I’m fine with having made up that word, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been made up previously.  Giftery brings us to another classic question, “What do you want?”  This has become the easiest question I can ever answer.  
I’m a bereaved parent.  Like every other bereaved I’ll want the same thing every time I am asked that question until my last breath & I’ll want it fully knowing that I can’t and won’t ever get it.  

I’m not unique, I just miss my daughter.  It’s that simple and that complex.

My little girl was a fighter