There were many heartbreaking aspects of losing my dad to leukemia in 2011. Too many to count and that’s not what this is about. One of the hardest realities that I had to accept was that he would never get to see me become a mother. He loved being Grandpa Dan. He was happy and laughing any time there was a baby in his lap. He thought talking to a toddler was one of the funniest parts of life. He knew how much I yearned to have a baby of my own and that I would be really good at it.
The night we transferred him from the cancer hospital to hospice, he and I had a few rare hours alone. We talked a lot. I promised him that I would have all the things I wanted in my life even though he wouldn’t be there to witness it. We agreed that it was totally shitty and unfair to each of us that he wouldn’t be alive to meet my children, be their Grandpa and experience me as a mother. That is a conversation I won’t ever forget. It is also the conversation when I promised to name my first son after him. And when he told me not to take “any more jewelry from any other boys” while holding onto the necklace I was wearing from my then-ex boyfriend, the man who is now my husband.
Less than two years after that night, I have already achieved a few of those things I told him I knew I’d have. I am married to my Joseph, the obvious perfect match for me, and we are about to become parents to my father’s ninth grandchild. As I get closer each day to the arrival of this baby, the reality and emotions involved are getting closer too. I see that welcoming a child, becoming a parent, growing my family’s next generation is going to bring forth a new love I’ve never known, as well as a new wave of sadness for life without my dad.
The happiest event in my life is not the time to focus on my sadness though, and I know that. I’ve chosen to incorporate my dad, his memory and the things he loved into my baby’s life in as many creative and uplifting ways as I can. From the mobile above the crib made of all of my dad’s favorite things in nature, to the baby boy “Coming Home” outfit that includes a baseball hat because baby is due at the beginning of baseball season, dad’s favorite time of year. And the totally amazing song lyric artwork framed on the wall from one of the songs he chose to play at his funeral, Here Comes the Sun, by the Beatles. Although they will never know each other, I’ll never have a photograph of my dad holding my baby and we’ll never get to see their similar faces side by side, I will be sure that my baby knows how awesome Grandpa Dan was, how happy I am to be his daughter and how much everybody loved him.
Kate also wrote about Having a Baby After Losing a Parent when she was pregnant with Max.