being carried on daddy’s shoulders

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I fully anticipated the balance of adding the role of Dad to my repertoire to be a lot of work; a shuffle of work commitments, less time spent reading tech blogs, maybe even leaving an email without a response for a whole day.

Reality isn’t far from those expectations, but instead of those somewhat mundane realities being replaced by the intense joy and laughter of becoming a new father, they were replaced with alien roles, jobs, and work I had never even imagined.

As a husband, I support my perpetually tearful wife. Drawing the last ounce of energy I have from the day to come home to such intense sadness, countlessly repeating the only words I have in me to try and offer support and comfort, while hoping to convince myself that one day we’ll laugh, smile and love again together without guilt as we did on our wedding day.

As a human, I grieve the loss of having had a piece of my heart and soul ripped away from me and torn up in front of my eyes. I work through the trauma of being alone in the NICU watching half a dozen people trying their hardest to save my child’s life.

As a father, memorializing the life of my son, ensuring that his short time here wasn’t for nothing, that it gives me a new constructive perspective on life and in return I use the life, that I would so desperately trade, to make sure he gets to experience the beauty and wonder of the world through my actions and feelings.

As a friend, socializing and finding the effort to put into those relationships worth holding onto so that the people on the other side don’t feel like abandoning us as a lost cause, despite the fact that we’re intensely grateful for those that have stuck out being around our misery when even I don’t like being around us.

As an employer, convincing myself to give direction and opinion to colleagues because while I find no joy in my job now, one day I hope to find that drive and ambition again and don’t want to find disappointment when I get there.

Instead of where there should be a quickly sprouting little Daddy clone, this is the load I carry. It’s much heavier than you would think. I had bad posture before, but this burden forces my shoulders to round more and sinks my head deeper. There’s nobody there to help carry it or offer a hand, indeed, as time goes on and people’s expectations of my capabilities increase, so does the weight.

Sometimes I collapse. It feels good to let it all go, but soon enough I remember I have responsibilities in these roles and they taunt me into picking it all back up.

A grieving father’s strength is not carrying or accepting this load, it’s resigning to it as part of your new life, taking the shaky first step with it, then another and another. It’s bending down when every part of your being aches and re-stacking the pieces that you drop when your heart shatters once more and causes you to trip and fall.

There’s a 7lb 9.34oz weight that I’d love to have straddling my neck, pulling hair, using my chin as a rein and laughing giddily as we bounce along, that’s the sort of weight that makes you stand up straight and hold your head up high.

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8 thoughts on “being carried on daddy’s shoulders

  1. Jessica April 12, 2015 / 11:09 am

    I have nothing profound or comforting to say, just that you three are in my thoughts and I can’t imagine the weight of it all. I’m so sorry little Owen isn’t pulling on your nose or tugging at your hand. I hope that writing is as helpful to both of you as it is to those of us hoping to find ways to understand and offer comfort to you.

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    • Mark Edmondson April 14, 2015 / 9:25 pm

      Thank you Jessica, to know you and Pirate are thinking of our family and especially our little boy is more than we could really ask for.

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  2. Gretchen April 12, 2015 / 11:37 am

    The hurt that’s carried through all the responsibilities (new and old), without a substantial, dedicated period of time to grieve, is incredibly difficult for many bereaved parents. Especially fathers. My husband was just saying last night how tired he is of putting it all together (for work and other responsibilities), that he feels he has never, and probably will never, actually get the time he needs to grieve our precious Zachary. He uses parts of weekends and snip-its of evenings, and it’s hard for him to come home to our house of grief when he knows he has to put that mask on again in a matter of hours.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your darling boy, Owen. Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart here.

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    • Mark Edmondson April 14, 2015 / 9:24 pm

      Taking the time out to grieve when it creeps up on you is one of those weird things I’ve had to learn from all of this, there’s no better time than when it hits you to let it hit you. Fortunately I have a job and colleagues that support and allow me take that time without asking questions when I feel like I need it. There is a little bench just a 10 minute walk from my office through the forest alongside a stream where I sit with a lot of thoughts and tears.

      Robyn and I were also fortunate enough to spend a lot of the very raw early time as the two of us without the added pressures of society, I hate to think what sort of state I would be in without having had that, and again I realize how fortunate we are to have had that opportunity that many don’t.

      This is now the time for us to both support each other, I feel this is truly the “sickness” of “in sickness and in health” and anything we can do to give each other a few extra moments to sit, reflect or talk through some feelings is sometimes the most you can manage but it’s why we’re together.

      Hugs to you, your husband and Zachary.

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  3. Erica Power April 18, 2015 / 7:43 am

    Extremely upset to read your beautiful son Owen was taken from you. Haven’t stopped thinking of the 3 of you since I read this in your profoundly moving blog. With much love from across the pond, Erica x

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  4. Justin May 18, 2015 / 6:35 pm

    You describe the pinwheel of loss so well. The winds blowing without warning to spin you around to face a new responsibility – husband, father, friend and employee. It can be so exhausting, but your comment holds so much truth “there’s no better time than when it hits you to let it hit you.” I have been working hard to stand in there and take those hits. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

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