I can’t believe this is an international day that we now know about. I can’t believe you are a bereaved father – twice. I can’t believe how many bereaved fathers there are and yet only people in this shitty club know this day exists, the rest of the world can ignore it.
A year ago we were anticipating Lenny’s arrival. A textbook healthy pregnancy entering the third trimester – we were on the home straight. We thought our biggest problem was getting the build finished in time for our new arrival. Before your baby dies you have a long list of problems when your baby dies you have one problem – your baby is dead and everything else stems from that.
We survived “normal” Father’s Day by going on holiday we travelled that day to try to ignore the day- I was pregnant with Bhai and we had a glimmer of hope though we were and will always be utterly devastated by lenny’s death. Now here we are on bereaved Father’s Day and our second child has died. 100 percent of our children have died – wtf! Another perfectly healthy pregnancy ended suddenly in a rare event – wtf! We are facing another post-mortem, funeral etc – wtf. Our reality is now that for us the normal conclusion to a pregnancy is death not life. What.the.fuck! I’ve lost count of the amount of times we have looked at each other and asked “what the fuck?”
Roy, I’m so sorry that your fatherhood is so brutal and sad. That it involves decisions about post-mortems and funerals. Doing things to honour our sons rather than doing things with our sons.
Through both my pregnancies you were so involved and so supportive. You spoke to Lenny so much that he recognised your voice- we saw the effect of that on a heart rate monitor. You built the boys a beautiful space to play in our house, you decorated the nursery and researched prams to the nth degree. You didn’t leave my side throughout both labours and births. You lovingly held and spent time with both our sons. You have held me up when you can barely stand yourself.
I know our society doesn’t see you as a father, I know some people in our world don’t acknowledge your fatherhood. So many people responded to Lenny’s death telling us one day we will be great parents – the implication being that planning for, carrying, birthing and meeting a child doesn’t make you a parent. Others have tried to reassure you saying “you’re still a dad” – no one says this about other forms of loss, “you’re still a brother, son, uncle, friend….” No one would say that. So many people assumed you would go straight back to work after watching our healthy newborn baby son die – I’m unsure what this says about our society and the role of men in their children’s lives but people don’t seem to acknowledge how utterly devastated you are.
I recognise your fatherhood, you’ve blown me away with it. I had high expectations of you, I always do but you’ve far surpassed them. I googled father and the definition is, “a man in relation to his child,” which tells me you quite clearly ARE a father, it shouldn’t be used as reassurance, it is a fact. It is like me telling someone there is so much uncertainty in the world for us and them responding with, “you’re still really short,” yes yes stating the obvious! Only a handful of people mention Lenny to you and fewer realise how devastated you are about Bhai.
You are so much more than the definition of a father – not only were you there when both our babies were born but you educated yourself so much so that it felt we were doing it as a team. I know you watched every second of Lenny’s resuscitation attempts so that you could advocate for him the best you could and you could know that EVERYTHING possible had been done to the best standard, I know how much pain that caused you – but you put him first for those 27 minutes. You have showed grace, compassion and kindness making those dreadful decisions about post mortem and funerals etc. You have advocated for me and for Lenny and in doing so changed the way national investigations are handled for parents. You carried Lenny all the way to his funeral in his casket as a proud father. You honour our sons every single day.
Bereaved fathers are humble, strong, kind men whose world has shattered into a billion pieces and yet they get the mundane tasks done – you’ve only missed one bin day since Lenny died. Roy you are an incredible father – I just wish you were able to father our sons here with us. One day we might having living children and you will be a fantastic father to them too. I know you won’t shirk responsibilities, moan about your kids when the going gets tough or talk about how much you just want time away from them. Bereaved fathers know how lucky those who haven’t experienced our kind of loss are and wouldn’t take that for granted for a second. But the phrase “living children,” shouldn’t be in our vocabulary or anyone else’s. If we ever have living children I know it will never make it ok and that you will always always miss, love and honour our boys.
If you’re a bereaved father reading this – I won’t say “happy” bereaved Father’s Day. I will say I acknowledge your fatherhood, I see you and I am so sorry you have had to survive the death of your child. The fact you are still breathing, never mind being able to read is incredible. If you’re a father who hasn’t experienced loss and you expect some sort of accolade for playing a basic role in parenting like changing a nappy or taking your kid out – sort your shit out, those things are a privilege not a chore. Earn the title of father, otherwise you may find me giving you a pitying look and reassuringly saying, “you’re still a dick!”