My dad died ten weeks ago.
Despite my fiercest hopes and wishes, I was not able to tell him about the birth of his third granddaughter. I wrote about my hope, but based on how relentlessly the disease progressed right before his death, I realize now how far off that possibility really was.
But I’ve been thinking about him a lot. Of course I have.
I get the feeling that everybody has been watching me a little closer than necessary, wondering if the birth of my child would truly bring home the reality of the death of my father. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that my midwives were concerned about PPD, but they stayed close at hand for the first five days, knowing so well that post-birth emotions and hormones can get to a girl, especially one who may be mourning the loss of both a parent and a birth plan.
The thing is, I am feeling my dad’s presence more than his absence right now.
When we had to make the scary and disappointing decision to deliver via c-section, I thought about all the scary and disappointing medical decisions my dad had to make. When I was walking around with an IV attached to my hand, I thought about the many times over the 8 months that he was ill that my dad had a tube attached to his body. Sometimes his IV was delivering sustenance and medicine, but sometimes it was poison.
He endured agonizing tests that yielded unfavourable results over and over again. But he didn’t complain about having to go through it.
I thought about why I was experiencing my discomfort and why he experienced his. I drew strength and perspective from these thoughts.
I thought very clearly about why I was there, and what I was getting out of the experience.
I am not mourning the loss of my perfect birth expectations. I am celebrating the birth of my perfect child.
My dad would be proud of me. He would have been worried, and happy and proud of me.
He would have loved this child; this child that snorts and grunts and squeals like a little piglet, and makes faces when she sleeps and gazes wide-eyed when she’s awake.
He would have loved her name. It would have made him smile and probably shake his head a bit, in acknowledgement that her name is so us. That it is so her. He would understand why we decided not to name her after him. He would understand that it was too soon, that he was still too present for us to place his absence so symbolically on this tiny child. And if we had, he would have been embarrassed, tried to convince us not to.
He won’t know her, and I could cry ten thousand tears over this painful fact. But she will know him. She will know him from pictures and stories and music and favourite places.
I don’t know if I can say that I look at my daughter and see my father. Maybe as she grows I will see aspects of him in her behaviour or expressions or habits. I hope I can teach her the things that he taught me, like patience and tolerance and how to understand hockey stats. And if his lousy sense of direction skips a generation, well, that’s ok too.