Posted by Danny
A friend recently sent me an article by Dean Murphy, an editor at The New York Times. He lost his wife to cancer and is now raising his three sons on his own.
He encapsulated something I’ve felt for a very long time when he wrote: “It is an odd feeling as a father to be so transparent, so naked, in front of the children you still provide for.”
I can’t imagine seeing my father, the rock of our family, lose his heart.
I wonder what it was like for my girls when grief paralyzed me. How did they feel when I was reduced to tears by a Kenny Chesney song or the scent of Lisa’s perfume? I can picture them looking up at me when I stood in church, eyes fixed on that cross, unable to sing or recite The Lord’s Prayer knowing if I opened my mouth, I’d be overcome with sadness.
Can you imagine being filled with your own grief and the person you most look to for comfort can’t do a thing but cry with you?
Looking back on the past two years, I wonder if my kids aren’t truly the ones who have lost the most. Their lives were turned upside down instantly at a time when they should have been eating ice cream, snuggling with mom, or running with friends on the playground.
Instead, as Lisa fought valiantly for her life, with me by her side almost every minute of her illness, they were tossed on a real life Tilt-A-Whirl. Jerked from one family member to another. Tossed in a car with a friend or at least a friendly acquaintance, assuming their mother would soon be back to gracefully bring our lives back to normal.
As Lisa became sicker, I couldn’t be the father they needed. I was so desperate to save her. I was consumed with finding her cure – medically, through prayer or voodoo if necessary.
As I missed work, they were required to proceed with life. Walking on a tight rope with no apparent safety net.
And the person who is supposed to be comforting them had been so deeply damaged, that at times, they became the comforter. Michelle creating art to brighten my days. Stephanie, quick to test, “Are you OK? You look sort of sad today.” And DJ, filling in the gaps. The ones her mother left as well as the ones I wasn’t able to fill myself.
In many ways, they have become my protector – their strong one, now “transparent and naked.” For them, a journey that started on a concrete bridge ended up on an old wobbly log.
I’ve become stronger again – more able to provide the security that for so long has been missing. But I wonder if they will ever experience the blind trust they had before? Can good intentions and unconditional love rebuild the bridge? Not fully I don’t think. But hopefully it can come close.