Three months ago I was planning Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts; Father’s Day more in particular. I imagined getting baby and navy blue paint to put on Jensen’s feet and showcase them in crafts for Anthony and my dad. A canvas and a mug for them both, with touches of Jensen everywhere. Of course they would get a picture of them and Jensen in a frame, I would fill all our walls up with Jensen’s face. We would get fun little first Father’s Day cards for Anthony and a grandpa card for my dad. It would be the first of many perfect Father’s Days for our little family.
Instead, I broke down at Hallmark. Well actually my breakdown started in Hallmark, then I ran to the bathroom in the mall to really get into it. I felt pretty pathetic sobbing in the stall, everyone in there had to hear me. At first I was okay. The cute cards got to me a little bit, but I was focused on the ‘adult’ looking cards for my dad and Anthony. Then it all happened too fast for me to comprehend at that time… Little kids came running in, right in front of me, picking out the cute cards I had my eyes one. They excitedly picked out their favorite cards having their mom read them out loud to them. Their smiles lit up the room. Except for the spot I was standing. I stood their paralyzed with my tears building up. Somehow I kept it composed long enough to buy my cards and run.
I’ll remember to just DIY my cards for the next occasion or order them online.
But this post isn’t about me, nor is this whole day. It’s about the two amazing fathers I was blessed with in my life: my dad and Anthony.
My dad, my superhero.
This is my favorite picture of my dad. I know you can’t see his face and I know I have a thousand pictures of him and I together, but this is the one. My dad has always been my biggest cheerleader, my protector, and the best guy I know. Everyone says that about their dad, but it’s true for me. Even when I’m so mad at him I can’t even look his direction, I still know I would be able to go talk to him about anything. He’s the first person I call when something truly does not go right because he makes it better. My childhood was a dream and it’s because I had him, well mom helped too.
I can just remember when I was first pregnant how scared I was to tell him. For some reason I thought he would be disappointed or mad. I remember puking up water on the stairs before I told them and he came along to help clean it up. He never asked me if I was or pushed me to tell him. When I did tell him, he just smiled and said, “I’ve known all along.” He was there to find out Jensen was a boy and was always wanting to know how my appointments went. When we found out Jensen would most likely have Down syndrome, he told me Jensen was loved no matter what. The moment Jensen was born, he was in the room. He talked to Jensen and held him. He cries with me and listens. Jensen is so lucky to have him as his grandpa. We even got him a #1 Grandpa grill spatula.
There’s no rulebook on what to do when your daughter’s son is stillborn or what to do when your grandson is stillborn. My dad has had a tough role to play since Jensen has been born: grieving his grandson and watching his daughter crumble to pieces. Through it all he’s been so gentle, patient, and kind. He’s handled losing Jensen with such grace that I don’t think I’ll ever have.
I’m so blessed to have the dad that I do.
On our way up to stay with Anthony on New Years Eve, I cried. It was funny, Jensen was kicking and dancing away all day. I remember feeling every kick and just crying for some reason. Halfway up, I called Anthony and just kept saying I didn’t want this year to end. It was such a great year; I graduated, I met Anthony, I bought a house, I got pregnant, and he was my Jensen. Anthony listened, as he always does, and just reminded me we were going to meet the best part of our future. Our Jensen was to be born in April and that I should be happy because we were going to have so many good parts of 2016. He calmed me down, made me laugh, and we took this picture.
Let me tell you, Anthony is my rock. On day one when we found out about our little Bebe, he was scared, but excited. Through all the good news and the bad, the multitude of appointments, and all my pregnancy hormones, Anthony was right beside me. He read Goodnight Moon and Go Dog Go to Jensen and made sure I took my prenatal vitamins every day. When we got bad news, he told me it would be okay and Jensen was still our perfect boy. We went to baby class together, did the baby shower registry, and planned every last detail. I tried my best to prepare him for our little bundle, but I could never have prepared him for Jensen’s passing. Nor could I have prepared him for this grief that is so woven into our every day lives.
Anthony’s first Father’s Day is without Jensen physically here. It hurts me. We shouldn’t have to spend tomorrow without Jensen, he should be almost three months old. I know he would have been the best daddy in the whole entire world and at the same time, he is.
There’s a difference in parenting when you’re a bereaved parent. We can’t physically hold Jensen or feed him, but we parent him in all other sense of the meaning. Anthony loves Jensen, cares about his legacy, and still does everything he can for him. Sometimes my grief and I take over our relationship, but he’s right here to help. As I’ve said before and will always say, Antony is my rock. I know Jensen is so proud of his daddy. He showed it every time he would hear Anthony’s voice and feel his presence. As much as I know how proud Jensen is of Anthony, I know the love between them is so strong and so endless.
My two boys. My perfect little family.
Related to Father’s Day, I submitted to Still Mothers a post I wrote about Anthony and his grief. I’d love, if you haven’t, for you all to go read it. I’d really like to say it was an honor to have them publish it on their site and let my family’s story be seen by so many other people. The post, in short, is really about a bereaved father’s grief and how society really needs to take in account that these dads really are hurting too. That not only a mother has lost a child, but the dad too. Click here if you want to check it out.
I’d like to wish all the fathers out their a Happy Father’s Day, especially my dad and Anthony. All you guys out there fathering your own, not your own, or just being that father figure in another’s life has so much impact on this world. To all the bereaved fathers out there, I see you. I see your grief and I want you to know you are as much as a father as any other father. You love and care for child while they’re waiting for you in heaven. You are not forgotten nor should you ever be overlooked. Your child loves you, that you should never forget. If you know a bereaved father, tell them Happy Father’s Day. That will mean more to him than anything on this day.