Today is a special day. A very special day indeed. A day that honours a relationship between a father and his son. One that deserves recognition of the highest sort.
My husband is a father. We do not stop becoming parents when our children die, in the same vein as we do not stop becoming children when our parents die. You cannot see our son, but he is still there. He is loved and he matters. He is with us in everything that we do. He is celebrated. It takes a great deal of strength to parent the spirit of your child when you yearn for so much more. To wake up each day, carrying the pain, but carrying on nonetheless, with your child in your heart. To put on a smile and take a step forward, knowing in your heart that this is necessary, that your child needs honouring. It isn’t easy, but we do it for our son. We do everything for our family.
I have struggled to know what to do – how to celebrate a father who is not able to hold his son in his arms. Any attempts to think about an experiential gift, leave me thinking of our heavy hearts as I imagine other families out alongside us, families that outwardly look like families. I thought the internet might help, however I quickly learned that dads deserve a round of golf, beer, or some tacky bbq accessory. The internet clearly does not know Owen’s dad. He cannot be defined so generally, so easily. He is unique.
My husband is a father who wears ‘daddy’ with pride. So much of it. He carries his son with him through the day, with him in everything that he does. He is a father who beams at the opportunity to talk about his son. He gives ‘Owen’ as his name at coffee shops and cafes, so when his order is ready, he gets to hear a sound fill the room that offers comfort to the soul, and brings a smile to his heart. An innocent utterance of a special name, unhindered by sadness in voice, or apprehension of ensuing conversation. He wakes up everyday and opens the curtains in the nursery to greet the new day. Another day, another opportunity to experience with his little boy, teaching him the ways of the world. Imparting wisdom. Guiding him with knowledge (and a plethora of dad jokes) he acquired from his own father. An important role that he has been preparing for his whole life. Owen is learning so much from his daddy.
They share a special bond. One that I have excitedly watched grow from the moment I jumped on the bed with a positive pregnancy test in February of last year. The morning I woke up a new father, welcoming him into his important role with smiles and happy tears. As the weeks passed, the bond continued to strengthen. Many secrets shared, and stories recounted of days past and those still to come. The secrets, stories and adventures continue. They are a father and son who may not be able to hold hands, but take hold of each day, each opportunity to explore and discover. Together.
They share a strong love. A love that can be seen in every choice made, in every step taken. A love that can be heard in the gentle voice wishing his son goodnight. A love that can be felt by this mother’s heart. A love, impenetrable by the forces of grief. A love that will withstand time and physical separation. Owen Benjamin will forever be cherished and lovingly cradled in the heart of his father. He is a lucky little boy to have a role model and father as dedicated and loving as he does. He is daddy to be proud of. The best kind. Together, they make a strong Daddy-Owen team, an integral part of our family. Two boys that occupy my heart.
I am not sure what we will do today, or how it will look, but we will do it in our own way. We do not need a card, a neck tie, or a fancy dinner out to celebrate with all of the other dads. The bond between a father and a son, between Owen and his daddy, means so much more than that.
Today, we honour Owen’s daddy. A very special, and loved, daddy indeed.