Father’s Day is a day to celebrate fathers, and we definitely did that at Spohr Haus this year. But for me Father’s Day is also a day to celebrate Maddie. Since she isn’t here to celebrate me, I celebrate her. It’s how I get through a day that became very complicated after Maddie passed away.
Difficult doesn’t mean without joy, however. I woke up on Sunday morning (after sleeping in!) to the sound of whispers outside the bedroom door. I sat up, listening, and heard this:
HEATHER: “When you go in say, ‘Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!’ Can you say that?”
ANNIE: “Yes. Happy Day, Daddy.”
HEATHER: “No. Happy FATHER’S Day. Can you say that?”
ANNIE: “Happy Father’s Day.”
HEATHER: Good! Now say it with Daddy at the end.”
ANNIE: Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.”
HEATHER: “Awesome! Now go tell Daddy!”
Little feet pounded the floor and Annie appeared charging toward me clutching a card.
“Happy holidays!” she yelled. Heather, trailing behind Annie, just shook her head.
The three of us snuggled in bed as I opened my beautiful cards, and it was great. Annie even drew on hers. I’m not sure what she drew exactly, but crayon marks definitely were on the card. Good job, Annie!
If you’re wondering why I just got cards, it’s because I’d already been given my Father’s Day gift a few weeks ago – a ticket to see the Beach Boys in concert! It was pretty awesome… I even got to take my photo with the band!
After we finished opening cards and cuddling in bed, I spent some time looking at photos of Maddie on the computer while Heather and Annie made me breakfast. Later, when they came in with my waffles, Annie spotted my computer screen and said, “Maddie!” For some reason I replied, “Yes. She’s my other baby girl, did you know that?”
I immediately felt terrible. I always tell Annie, “You’re my baby girl, did you know that?” And now I’d told her I had another one.
Annie knows Maddie is someone important to Mommy and Daddy. She also seems to be a big fan of Maddie herself based on how much she loves to watch Maddie videos, but she doesn’t know what a sister is, and hearing me call another little girl by a term of endearment I use for her could be traumatizing. Luckily, Annie didn’t seem to bat an eye at this, but it stuck with me. As time goes on finding the right words about Maddie is only going to get more and more important… and difficult.
In the afternoon we went to Heather’s parents’ house to swim and barbecue, and it made for a terrific afternoon. At times though I was quiet and reflective, and Tia Leah asked me if I was sad because the Giants had lost. I thought for a moment, then nodded. On a nice afternoon like the one we were having, it was better to let people think it was because of baseball.
It’s a very tough thing to celebrate Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day) when you’ve lost your child. But I did my best to enjoy the day by remembering this baby girl:
And snuggling this one:
I couldn’t be more proud that I get to call myself the father of both.