I’ve referenced it in various places here, but I work to be a man of faith. It’s something I believe is to be seen in how I live more than it is heard, but I hold it close. I try not to pray for specific things because it feels like I’m suggesting that He doesn’t already know what’s on my heart, so I trend toward two things – health and humility. It used to be physical health in my mind; losing family to cancer and friends in their 20’s to aneurysms will do that. Humility was more widespread though. I wanted to be humble enough to never reach a point of self righteousness in my faith walk. I wanted to have an honest humility perspective within myself so that I could realize when I wasn’t heading in the direction I thought I was, and be strong enough to do something about it. But also humble myself when I was in prayer about some decision I felt was important – that I wouldn’t confuse my plan with God’s.
Now, things are a little different. The physical health I used to pray for has been replaced with a mental and spiritual version. I understand differently now how our bodies are designed to fail us at all stages of life, and the only thing we can really do is keep account of how we view it. Asking my friends about their children takes more focus and effort than it used to, not because I don’t want to hear but because I don’t want to end up making it about Jonah. Humility has a different meaning now after losing some naivety about life. The humility I’m looking for now is to have enough perspective to know that this is not the end of my story. That Luke and Jonah are the beginning of our journey into parenthood, and not the end.
To be humble enough to trust that this will not always be how it is.
On days where looking for Jonah feels more like trying to touch a star than look for one, to be easy enough on myself to remember that He knows what’s on my heart without needing to speak it. Having that trust is a hard thing to do when the night is dark and the air is still. It’s easy to get wrapped up in how things could have been.
On the day Jonah would have been seven months old, I want to make a declaration in honesty.
This hurts. I fight depression daily, and I don’t always win. Most days I cry for my children… and I don’t talk about it out loud. It shakes my faith life every day. It has the potential to tear down every relationship that matters to me. It touches me in my core, where my dreams of fatherhood are still having their tears wrung out. My strongest days are so much less than they used to be and my focus is shorter, both at home and at work. It makes me feel inferior, and that is why I am more likely to tell people I’m ‘doing alright’ or ‘just having a tough day’. Being an Almost Father is a hard go, and I don’t want to marginalize the voices of people who deserve to be heard after so many years of being suppressed by talking about how my feelings are hurt. But they are there, whether as a more emotional guy or a strong, silent one.
Loss Awareness Day did so much to help parents feel a connection. People with recent losses were a part of the mainstream community again even if just for a moment, and parents who lost their children long ago were able to be included and supported in a way they never would have been in their time. To have our children remembered and see those words of encouragement felt like Jonah was everywhere, and it was the first time I’ve had that. Something I noticed as a dad, though, was how many more moms were sharing than dads. Maybe that’s because of our personalities and emotional differences, or maybe it was because they don’t want to take over the conversation in a place that we know very differently than a mother would. If you noticed that too – or if you’re a mother who wished the father was reaching out with you- know that they hurt just as I do. We all have the dream of fatherhood, and we react to losing it differently than might be preferred.
My love is so much deeper and that’s what gives me hope. With any luck and God’s touch, we will one day have a little one in our arms and sleeping in that nursery where Jonah’s spirit can hold them close.
I miss you son, every day. I feel you as I write this, holding my heart together as it breaks for you. And I thank you.