Dads are often described as strong. Tough. Brave.
But this year, I give the award of the bravest to a group of dads that, last year, my happy-go-lucky self hadn’t even thought about.
The bereaved dads.
This year, I see them.
I see their quiet strength and their tired faces.
I see the way they cover their families in protection, and I see how they watch life through a new lens of changed perspective.
My husband, not by choice (it’s never by choice), belongs to this group of brave men.
To my husband, The Brave:
When my stomach was sick with nerves on the drive to the hospital, I couldn’t talk, much less offer you comfort.
But you – you found the courage to fish for the words to tell me we’d be okay.
You found the words, and you found the energy to speak them into the air around me, giving me something to focus on and, despite your fear, the ability to breathe.
For that, you are brave.
During our ultrasound, I stared at the ceiling, unable to look at our beautiful baby on the screen. Instead, I looked up and locked my gaze on you.
Watching your eyes, I studied them for a sign – any sign. But you, brave husband of mine, stared straight ahead.
You faced your fear.
You watched our son.
You didn’t miss a second of the chance to watch his perfect body on the screen in front of you. You didn’t look away, even though I know you may have wanted to.
Seeing his still body was like a gut punch. But you stood up straight, and you laid your strong hand on top of mine.
You watched silently.
You didn’t make a single facial expression until the trusted doctor finally spoke.
That, dear husband of mine, was brave.
When the doctor finally did speak, breaking the silence with the words that would change our lives forever, you somehow found the strength to hear them.
You fell to my bedside, folded your hands on my stomach and sobbed. And you talked to our son.
I was suffocating in a room with no air. I was thinking selfish thoughts about labor, about delivery, and about the fact our toddler daughter didn’t know where we were.
I was numb.
I felt outside my body.
The words hit me and then bounced off and rolled away. They didn’t penetrate. I couldn’t feel them let alone accept them.
No tears would come.
I envied you. I so badly wanted to cry. But I couldn’t.
And what’s worse than not crying is the guilt about not crying.
You bravely and reverently spoke to my belly. You cried tears of love for your son.
Feeling the feels – that was brave.
Brave was the phone calls you made. The calls that you know, even though you can’t see the people on the other end, make them reach for the nearest counter and sit down.
My eyes were closed. Your voice sounded far away, but I heard it. Listening to your voice got me through those seconds and minutes after. “Hi, __________. We lost him.”
You made call after call, and all I could think about was how our babies have the strongest daddy in the world.
We came home to spend a few hours with our daughter before heading back to the hospital for delivery.
And, sweet husband, what did you do? You put a pizza in the oven.
Do you even remember that?
You did. You put a pizza in the oven for our family members who had already spent half the day at our house.
You took care of others, true to your character, on likely the worst afternoon of your life.
That simple act was brave.
Bereaved dads don’t wear capes. Even if there were capes given to them (and there should be), they probably wouldn’t wear them.
This group of dads works humbly.
Lifting others when they, too, have their hearts broken.
They are the silent superheroes — the ones who are often overlooked.
But not by me.
Happy Father’s Day, Bereaved Dads.
You matter too.