I would be lying if I didn’t say this is one of the hardest days of the year. This day growing up was always so special because I was so fortunate to grow up with an awesome father to celebrate and I genuinely want to wish him and all the great Dad’s out there a Happy Father’s Day! For me, this Father’s Day makes me so aware that the word Dad, the meaning of a father, what being a father is, is something I see so differently now, after everything we’ve been through.
There are Dad’s of all kinds – biological dad’s, step dad’s, adoptive dad’s, foster dad’s, and father figures. I knew some versions of these through different friendships and family relationships growing up. What I never knew about though are the Dad’s that no one talks about much, because it’s uncomfortable for ‘outsiders.’ The Dad’s that have lost their children or the Dad’s that can never have their own biological children. The Dad I am this year. It’s still surreal that this is our story, but now that I am one, I realize how much these Dad’s need to know how much they are absolutely are just that, Dad’s, like all of the other versions I’ve met along the way.
I never got to hold our sweet Hallie girl, which continues to be so difficult to deal with. What’s funny though, is how much I’ve learned that life is about perspective. I consider us lucky that we got her foot prints, handprints, and ultrasound pictures. We have a piece of her here on earth and they mean everything to me. I had her foot prints tattooed on the inside of my left arm to have her with me every minute of every day. They make me feel like she’s close to me. Those of you who know me well know that I would have thoroughly enjoyed putting the fear of God into her boyfriend or prom date when she was older. I would kill for those years hearing her say “Daaaaadddd,” followed by, “He doesn’t mean that,” even though I secretly did. I never stopped picturing the song, “Cleaning this Gun,” by Rodney Atkins when we found out we were pregnant.
Our best friends recently lost their baby boy Maddox. It’s so sad, I can’t even put it into words. I could’ve never imagined when we met in college that one day we’d share a hug over a new bond, a bond nobody wants, a bond nobody should ever share – a hug over our lost children. We sat for hours, in a haze, and yet it was what all four of us needed. It almost gave a purpose to our loss of Hallie because it gave us the ability to simply sit with them and to know the deep ache they were feeling without needing to say one word about it.
I know that there are so many other Dad’s, like us, out there today that feel the hurt over the child/children they have lost, the ones that they never got to hold, the ones that never got to hear a heartbeat for or see an ultrasound picture of. The ones that never got to hear their kids first word, throw their first pitch, watch them shoot a basketball for the first time. Yes I am very sports oriented, as Bethany and I were both pretty good athletes, best in our families, actually (just ask them!). I would’ve given anything to coach Hallie.
I could get lost in the ‘what could’ve been’ forever. Hallie, as your Dad, I couldn’t be more proud of you. I am so sorry I couldn’t protect you and save you. I know you are with me everyday and I love you darlin. This has been the hardest road we’ve ever had to travel without a doubt but we will make it through, for you.
And for all the Dad’s out there that are also just, “making it through,” today, I am here. You are not alone! You are a Dad and your kid is looking down on you today, smiling.