Thursday, February 26, 2009

On the Two Year Anniversary

To say it had been the worst day of my life seems cliché, but it fits. For three years we had battled one aspect or another of the complications from my wife’s mixed connective tissue disease and she ultimately lost the battle. Two years ago today.

Five years ago today, we were much happier. After a week and a half of unknowns, including two hospitals and multiple rooms, we arrived home for our first night together as a family outside of any hospital walls. The three of us slept in our bedroom-proud new parents in the bed, baby in the bassinet within arms’ reach.

Three years later, and two years ago today, that bedroom saw a different picture-two sad people sitting together on the bed, while that daddy told his baby that her mommy was not going to return to that room again. Ever.

It was a conversation no parent ever wants to have. I had prayed that I would not have to explain this to my two-year-old two weeks prior, when my wife had been admitted to the hospital for two nights so that they could poke and prod and ultimately change nothing. And everything. But those were the prayers of a scared man, and at the time, there was no reason to think this was going to happen.

My daughter turned three the next week.

One week later, I found myself sitting on the bed I had shared with my wife only two nights before trying to put the unfathomable into words a three-year-old could understand. There were some tears, but I think she was as shocked as I was and was primarily responding to my grief at that moment. But she understood.

She still understands.

It’s been two years since that conversation. Over that time, my daughter and I have developed a very open dialogue about her mommy. I make certain to share stories with her and she does not hold back when her grief rocks her foundation the most.

That’s been happening a lot more often lately. I think it’s a combination of factors. She’s getting older and is remembering more than she once did. She just turned five and will start kindergarten in the fall, and she is beginning to realize that Mommy will not be here to share in the significant events/changes in her life. She does not recognize February 26th on the calendar, but I think she somehow knows when it’s near.

So when she’s had enough and her feelings spill over into tears, I do my best to console her. Sometimes she wants me to share a happy story with her-usually about our wedding or the day she was born. Sometimes she wants to look at her memory books. Sometimes she will share her own memories of her mommy. Sometimes she just wants me to hold her while we cry.

The conversations have changed some over the last two years. But the tears still somehow manage to work their way into them.


  1. this is very interesting. My daughter was 2.5 when Gavin died, and it's been 2.5 years since then. Her understanding is considerably less, but I'm working on a post of the details. Of course, everyone is different, and I'm sure my response and my communications style influence how we both process things, but your example is interesting.
    I'll follow you and keep commenting!

  2. Supa Dupa Fresh - I remember considerably less of my dad, who passed away when I was nine, than my daughter appears to remember of my wife. Every child is different as is every parent-child dynamic. I think the important thing is to keep the lines of communication open and to share memories as often as is appropriate.

  3. amyswaterworks@telus.netApril 4, 2009 at 12:14 AM

    So very sad.. I am so very sorry for your loss and the loss of a mom for your daughter.

  4. amyswaterworks - Thank you for your kind words. At two years out, the good days have begun to outnumber the bad ones.

  5. Hi, I'm Diana, child without a mother since 1994. I'm finally in college and attempting to re-evalute who I am. In doing so I left I had to undestand my father in order to understand myself.

    My father and I have shared fond trip memories when I was younger. He was dating someone I was in middle school and remarried when I was in high school. We have never been close since.

    It's a strange feeling knowing that my mother and father, the two closest people to me, are the farthest.

    I just hope your daughter will not end up wondering why she can't feel her own father's love. Please keep up the effort to be there for her. Thank you for holding up to your end. She'll be forever grateful.

  6. Diana - Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry to hear about the distance between you and your father. My daughter and I have talked many times about what it might be like if/when I start dating, so that she will hopefully be as prepared for it as possible. Not that it won't be difficult for both of us, but I hope it helps. She is a remarkable girl, as are you. Don't give up on your father. Sometimes the best parent-child relationships begin with adulthood.