An open letter to my husband as Father’s Day approaches….
You are my partner, my best friend, my everything. We have forged an unbreakable bond through tragedy and triumph; time has made our love messy, raw, and real. No one knows the true, behind-the- scenes battles we have fought in the foxhole together. No one has heard the bleary eyed, whispered conversations we have shared as we clung to each other in desperation on our darkest days. No one knows how broken we have been, how much despair we’ve felt, or heartache we’ve endured. No one knows the gut busting laughter we’ve shared over highly inappropriate things or the adventures on our bucket list we’ve woven together over fifteen years of couple-hood. No one knows you the way I do and it’s a sacred privilege I hold dear.
No one knows what your fatherhood looked like after the loss of our first four babies. I saw your grief in the stillness of our quiet house after they died that caused you to be stir crazy and desperate to leave to run imaginary errands. Errands that distracted your mind from the emptiness you felt after the loss of our precious babies. I see the way you father them now in the tenderness you display when we go to the cemetery and you tend to the landscape around their headstone. I see your fatherhood in the way you honor them every day by being the man, the father, you want to be, for them. I see your fatherhood in the pain you feel for what two of our children have endured in their short lives and your helplessness in being unable to save them, then. I see your fatherhood in the space you hold for the son we had hoped to make a forever part of our family, yet couldn’t, as to do what’s best for him. You are my rock, as well as theirs. Our family would be lost without you.
I see your fatherhood by the pride in your eyes when you talk about them. When you describe our story; the story of their lives and their deaths. When you describe what you love about each of them and your favorite memories of them. I see the pride you feel in being their father, in saying their names and referring to yourself as their dad. I know you would give anything, including your own life, to hear all seven of them call you dad just one single time. Your heart bursts with pride at what is and shatters with sorrow at all you’ve missed out on and hoped would have been.
Father’s Day is coming and it is tender– three of your beloveds are here with you while another four are not. I see the heaviness of that reality as you vacillate between gratefulness and grief. Joy and sorrow. And a love that encompasses both heaven and earth.
As Father’s Day approaches, I wish these things for you:
- The ability to see yourself through my eyes. My admiration of your quiet strength, your justified anger, your wounded, yet mended, heart. My overwhelming respect and love for you, especially the day I watched you carry our son’s casket to his open grave and gently lower it in the ground. The tender warrior you are when you kiss their headstone four times, in honor of our four babies, each time we leave their place in the mountains. The dad you are to our living children; protecting their stories, loving them in the small moments other people may miss, encouraging them to be who they were made to be. I see all of it. And it amazes me each and every day.
- Grace, for the days when you forget that you are the best provider and protector I could have ever dreamed of. Your provision of unconditional love, your protection of their hearts and their memories, are more than I could ever ask for. Grace for the days you yell or aren’t the dad you hoped to be that day. Grace as a salve for when you don’t get it right and have to try again, the things you teach our kids each and every day. Grace for when Father’s Day hurts. Grace for when Father’s Day is fantastic and you feel that pang of guilt. Grace, upon grace.
- Joy. Unrelenting, unsurpassed, joy. Joy in our survival, joy in our story, joy in your fatherhood. Joy in the messiness, joy in the hard days, joy in the knowing you will see those four precious souls again one day. Joy for the three cherished, incredible, humans we get the honor to raise here on earth. Joy in the leadership of your family. Joy upon joy.
Thank you for being you. For loving me in my mess and allowing me to love you in yours. For holding me on the days I feel like I can’t keep going, and for trusting me to hold you on the days you feel the same. For being bearing the unbearable, for cultivating beautiful scars for the world to see, for leading the way and lighting a path for other grieving dads, and for putting on the best damn golf tournament in Caleb’s honor every single June. Thank you for loving our children so well and for being an extraordinary father to our seven treasures. Thank you for being an amazing grandfather to our precious grand babe. Thank you for living out our vows every day and never giving up, no matter what.
You + Me, Love: We can do anything. And we have.
I love you – and I thought I loved you, then.
All My Love,