My second son was born 7 days after my father died from a 14-month bout with throat cancer. Part of the reason I wanted to get pregnant again was because I knew he was dying. At the time, it seemed like the only way I could keep him alive. It was during my pregnancy that I started therapy. I figured I had a pretty good set up for postpartum depression, and I wanted to prepare for its inevitability. I was so convinced it would happen, I actually saw 2 therapists. One would listen and give me practical advice and the other would make me work to come up with my own answers. I valued both.
As we were planning the funeral, we had to schedule the burial and the only day available was my due date. And the military cemetery was an hour away. So I decided I couldn’t go. It rained all that day, which was appropriate, because my dad loved the rain, thunderstorms especially. Sure enough, that morning, as my mother and sister were driven to the burial site, I started having contractions. They return literally in the nick of time. My son was born at 7:17 pm and just minutes before he made his debut in this world, a bright, beautiful rainbow appeared outside our window.
As my son has grown, he has been fixated on pictures of my dad. Since he began talking, one of his most repeated phrases is “Grandpa died.” For the longest, I wondered, why does he keep saying that? It hurts me every time I have to explain to him that, yes, Grandpa died, but even though he’s not here, he loves you and your brother and sister anyway. But what I now believe is that he says it over and over because he knows. He met my dad in that space and time in the universe between life and death, and he is trying to tell me, Grandpa died, but his love hasn’t. Because it lives through him. He is Grandpa’s love.
So this year, as he turns 2 and we acknowledge another year since my dad passed, I will have a new perspective, a dual celebration. I will celebrate my son’s birthday and the abundance of love that my dad still showers me with, through my baby.