Today has hit me almost as hard as Mother’s Day did, and I’m honestly blindsided. But I’ve realized that today, I’m mourning the fatherhood that Jason lost, the blissful hope they have in a first pregnancy when they buy all the Dad gear without ever imagining that their baby may not come home. And my heart is breaking for him. I’d always imagined how I would feel, and how my love for Jason would change, when I saw him hold our children for the first time. But I never, ever fathomed how that first time could be anything but a moment of joy.
I’ve been meaning to share Omie’s birth story, and I will in time, but I distinctly remember the first time Jason held him. He was so broken at first, in tears and asking why none of the doctors would or could do anything. He was still fighting, to the very last, for Omie’s life. When I finally got him to calm, for just a moment, to hold Omie, he looked at us and there was a flash of joy. I had the same when I first held Omie, a paradoxical experience in the face of death. His son was here, and regardless of the impending separation, Jason was in awe of Omie.
As I handed our boy to Jason, he urged me to be careful, support his head, make sure he was covered up so he was warm. He did all of the things I expected him to do, just as if Omie had been born healthy at full term. And as he sat in that chair at my bedside and held our son for the first time, he cried. He cried and cried and washed Omie in his tears. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to cry with him at that point, between the week spent in the hospital and the sheer exhaustion after giving birth. But I can tell you, I’m crying with him today.
Father’s Day has been rough for Jason since he lost his own father, six years ago this fall. Then Jason spent his first Father’s Day mourning Noah, and recovering from an emergency surgery he had to remove a tumor from his neck. And this year, he’s had to spend another Father’s Day in mourning, for another son lost too soon. I see him with our niece, so loving and playful and the best uncle you’d ever seen. And it breaks me, because I wonder if he’ll ever get to do that with our children, if we’ll ever have children.
I know, in moments of clarity and peace, that we will have a living child. I know that to be a fundamental truth, and I know it as intimately as I know my own name. But these milestones shake me, they make me even more painfully aware of what is lost, and they make me grieve for all those who also suffer from the loss of our babies. So all I can give today is the hope in the future, and the wish that everybody enjoy a gentle Father’s Day.