This past weekend was spent learning about things I knew very little about. My wife & I spent half the day Saturday in a breastfeeding class, and all day Sunday in a Lamaze/Child Birth class. In the middle of these classes we had baby shower. What a wonderful weekend of preparing for and celebrating the upcoming birth of our child. We still don’t know the sex, and will wait until this one comes down the chute to find out. I have to admit that my nerves are not relaxing as we approach the delivery date, but the nervousness is mixed in with joy and unbridled excitement. I cannot wait to meet this little one and pour every ounce of love upon the baby. I have visions of baby pictures, sleeping with baby on my shoulder, a cute picture with baby and our dog Ruby, all sorts of funny faces and pictures of baby resting on Mom’s chest. These will be our journal of the child’s life, great accompaniment to the memories we will cherish for this kid. All the worries seem to fade away when you just know you will do whatever it takes to take care of your child. Whatever parenting skills I don’t have, or knowledge I do not possess today, I know I will never stop going the extra mile. I do not believe these feeling to be unique to me either, I’m sure most conscientious parents do everything possible for their children.
Yesterday, I saw all of these memories for the child of a coworker. The pictures and videos we all want were on display on memory boards in a funeral home. I am at a new job, two months in, and a coworker I work with lost a daughter. His 14 year old daughter took her own life. I will not expand on any details of the reasoning in the young girls mind, for I did not know her, but the parenting aspect is difficult. As I waited in line at the calling hours, for over an hour to just get in, I witnessed such sadness. The faces of classmates, friends and family members were wrought with sadness. Picture after picture showed such a happy baby, young child and teenager. Beautiful family pictures, pictures of this girl at sports events, charity work, always such a pretty smile on. All the pictures I cannot wait to take for my child were on display throughout the hallways. I was overwhelmed with sadness. Leaving the why out of the equation, which will always be a question the family seeks an answer for, the how questions came to mind. How does a parent ever handle this? How do friends get over this loss? What can I do as a parent to prevent this sort of awful event from happening? Is there a way to avoid this from happening? I’m certain this girl was given all the love she could has been given by her family. The love was evident in all the memories on display, and on the faces of her Mom, Dad and older brother. They had the calling hours as a casual event, since that’s what she would want. Her casket was surrounded by soccer balls, a keepers jersey, band instruments, student of the month signs…everything. How does a parent notice any signs of this outcome in a child who seemingly lived a very full, happy American life? I normally do not like to pose question after question, but I have nothing but questions.
I’m sure the parents of this girl, sat in baby classes like my wife and I did this weekend. I’m sure they had wonderful generous gifts at baby showers from loving family and friends. I’m sure the parents promised to always take care of their baby, like we have. I just don’t have any answers for the outcome for this family. I’m certain they will never get over the loss, but instead just learn to live through the pain and memories. The only thing I can conclude is to treat each day as if it might be the last time you see a loved one. Treat each moment not like a picture opportunity, but as an opportunity to let those who you love know you love them. Don’t take time for granted. We have had this baby with us in utero for 34 weeks now, and I have loved the baby more every day. I want to be a good father, and know it will be work to earn that title, but I hope this experience will help me during times to come.