Monday, October 19, 2009


Last night before bed, I decided to look back to see what I'd blogged on Nathaniel's birthday last year. It turns out we didn't do much to celebrate or otherwise mark the day. The boys and I had just returned from a visit to Regina, getting in at 1:30am, so we hung out at home as a family and played in the leaves.

When I crawled into bed last night (much too late as usual, but this time due to a certain 9 month old who decided that he'd rather cry from midnight til 1am rather than sleep), I was still thinking about last year and trying to decide what we would do this year when it hit me...

That trip was the last time I saw my dad alive.

I did talk to him many times between that day and his death, but that was the last time I saw him. It's been A WHOLE YEAR since I looked in his eyes. A YEAR since I hugged him. A YEAR since I looked him in the eyes and told him I loved him. And as that realization hit me last night, I felt... it's hard to explain. My head felt heavy and my chest ached. I felt dizzy and a bit out of breath. Sometimes I'm still taken aback at what a physical response we can have to emotional pain. I. Miss. My. Dad.

The night before we left Regina  was also the night of my dad's first kidney dialysis treatment. After months of me saying that my dad was being over medicated, he was finally transferred to a doctor WHO AGREED. He discontinued half a dozen meds and arranged for the dialysis to help flush out  the medication and toxins that had been building up for most of a year (if not longer). I remember walking into the room with my mom half an hour or so into the treatment, to find my dad with his eyes open, alert, and responsive. Talkative even! This was amazing. For weeks he'd been sleeping all the time, not able to hold a conversation, barely even able to keep his eyes open long enough to answer a simple yes or no question.

During the hours we spent with my dad that night, my mom and I were able to ask him some of the questions  that he hadn't been able to answer in the weeks prior. There were so many decisions that had to be made in regards to his care, many of which my family was collectively feeling the burden of having to make without knowing his wishes. He still wasn't ready or willing to discuss funeral arrangements or anything to do with a memorial service, so we didn't push that matter.

I remember so badly wanting to ask him about death. I needed to know how he felt. Was he scared? Did he still stubbornly refuse to even consider the fact that he might, in fact, be dying? Had this last year, with its multiple surgeries, infections, pain, loss of dignity, etc, etc, ETC, changed his faith? What where his thoughts on God? Standing by his bed, trying unsuccessfully to make the words come -willing them to ask themselves- my mouth and mind refused to cooperate. It was one of those moments like in a dream, where you try to talk or scream but can't. The words wouldn't come. When I was finally able to choke down the lump in my throat, I managed to ask him whether he'd been thinking much about death and his response was a clear and articulate, "I'm not afraid to die." And when asked about his illness and God, my dad responded, "God doesn't change, and my illness doesn't change anything."

* * * * * * * * *

I'm not sure why I feel so compelled to share this part of my dad's story on this, what would be my baby's fourth birthday. Partly I think it's due to being able to see Nathaniel's birthday from a long way off. As early as the summer months, I see it coming. June holds the memories of all the initial testing we had done and the news of the Trisomy 18 diagnosis. With July (which always seems to go too fast) comes the knowledge that August is quickly followed by September, and once September hits, it is impossible to ignore October close on its heels. It doesn't sneak up on me anymore.

But this whole thing about not having seen my dad FOR A WHOLE YEAR, well it came out of nowhere. These two great losses -the loss of my dad and my son- have come together in a not exactly pleasant kind of way. Grief has a way of compounding. Compounding in a way that those who have not experienced wave after wave of intense, crushing pain that are the result of a great loss can ever truly understand.

So this year, thoughts of my should-be-four-year-old boy are entwined closely with memories of my died-too-soon father. I hope it doesn't sound too contrived to say that I am who I am, in part, because of theoe two. My relationship with them and the loss of them profoundly shaped and changed me. I am so proud to be my father's daughter. I am so proud to be Nathaniel's mum.

I hope they are proud of me.


  1. I am sure they are Amy because you are a wonderful Mom, daughter and a really good friend!

  2. I am so sorry for both your losses. I am sure that both your boys are together and I'm sure they are very proud to have known you and loved you.

  3. i am so sorry for the loss of your dad and your son. i read Nathaniel's story and watched the video you made, and now one or two (BILLION) raindrops have inexplicably landed in my eyes and dripped down my face.

    i lost my mom a year ago in august, and every once in a while, something sneaks up on me and squeezes my heart. it's the little things, like flipping through my cookbook and seeing her handwritten notes on recipes she gave me. or the approximately one gajillion times i have thought, 'i gotta call mom and tell her what the babies are doing' only to realize that a) she's not here, and b) she already knows, what with her being an angel and all.

    how could two of your favorite guys not be proud of you? look at the fires you've walked through. you did it, and you lived to tell about it. that's something to be proud of.

  4. Broad sided is a good title, Amy. Grief does "broad side" many times. Thanks for sharing your heart. Yes, they have changed your life and grief has changed you. We are proud of you and love you very much. Love, Mora/Mom/Nana

  5. Oh Amy... I have no doubt that Nathaniel and your father are immensely proud of the beautiful, sweet woman you are. I'm so sorry for the weight of grief that you are carrying right now. I wish I could offer you more than words...

  6. Oh Amy, I haven't experienced the loss of a child but I have lost my father. He was too young to go, and he died before I myself had a family. I do remember the crushing waves of grief that hit unexpectedly. I am sure that both Nathaniel and your Father are extremely proud of you. Of what you do, of who you are. Take Care of you. Hugs.

  7. I can't understand the hurt you must go through at this time of year. I'm lucky to still have both my parents, and while I did lose a child, it was so early that... well... in all honesty, while I think about that child, I never did meet them, and so their term birth date means very little to me, although the month in which we found out and that I lost him/her is still difficult sometimes (September... and I had my daughter the following year... so it's been bittersweet).

    Do not feel bad as you grieve. We all need to. And sometimes it does hit like a sack of potatoes.

    Hugs to you, Amy!

  8. Amy,
    I haven't been able to read this for so long. I finally watched Nathaniels video, and sat staring at the pictures tears rolling down my face. It was hard to see your dad. That's when the tears started. Hopefully, someday we can sit together and share some happy, joyous memories and feel his impact on all of us. You are a beautiful soul.


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