Remembering Dads

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These are some fairy cakes (Conor’s Daddy calls them buns) whipped up quickly one evening to bring into work. I added desiccated coconut to the sugar icing. If like me you love coconut, then you’ll love these. I call them my “taste of paradise” cakes. Conor’s Daddy likes it when I make individual cakes as he gets to raid them before they leave the house.

This Father’s Day we need to remember all Dads. There are those of us missing our own Dads. There are Dads like Conor’s Daddy missing a child. I am also aware of mothers whose young childrens’ fathers are sick or have died. They are left wondering how to mark this day for their children.

This is our second Father’s Day without Conor in our arms. Sometimes the impact of baby loss on the Dads can be underestimated. Conor’s Daddy had bonded with his baby with every kick, conversation and scan. Names were chosen and he couldn’t wait to meet our child.  Thankfully our generation allows fathers to be part of their child’s care. In those hours we had in the hospital Conor’s Daddy showed his son a lifetime of love. He cut the cord knowing his son would not take a breath. He held and then washed Conor. He carried Conor in his arms through a busy maternity hospital past Dads with balloons and car seats. He showered him with kisses and held his hand. He carried Conor across the hospital grounds to the chapel and then out of the chapel in a coffin. He handed his only child over to the undertaker to be put in the ground.

Conor’s Daddy’s heart was broken on bad news day too. The two of us, new parents with empty arms returned home in a state of shock. We are now 22 months on. We have had to bear witness to our own and each other’s grief.  We are two different people and have grieved differently. A counsellor I know describes being on the same roller coaster but in different carriages. We don’t necessarily experience the same ups and downs. Over time we have learned to respect each other’s way of grieving. We both know more than anyone that there are no fixes or shortcuts. We have realistic expectations of ourselves and each other. What we do share is a profound love for Conor and a want to tell people about him.

This Father’s Day I will acknowledge Conor’s Daddy and I hope others will too. He misses the life he should be having with Conor more than anything. There are balls not getting kicked and stories not being read.  I will also remember with fondness and sadness my own dear Dad who taught me about kindness. This is the two of us, with me about the age Conor should be watching him paint…

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Once Upon a Time

Theirs was a love story like many played out across the world. Boy meets girl (though thankfully in Ireland it could equally be boy meets boy or girl meets girl). Boy and girl date before boy pops the question on a moonlit beach. Girl says yes and subsequently drinks too much champagne in celebration. They have a wonderful wedding day surrounded by family and friends (and June floods). They were overjoyed to discover two would soon become three. Their beautiful son Conor was born and they all lived happily ever after…

At least that’s how their story was meant to go. The genre of their story changed over the course of just one night’s sleep. The sudden and out of order death of their son turned their story into one of the greatest tragedies. No one is meant to bury a child. This was a tragedy our main characters didn’t know if they would survive. At times they didn’t want to survive such was the pain. To the rest of the world they looked just like the couple in the first few chapters but they were changed forever. The length of their son’s life didn’t matter, they had planned the rest of their lives around being three. Their new protagonist was missing. The boy who had kicked his way into extra time kicked no more. The boy they were ready to dedicate their whole lives to was gone. Life could never go back to what it was. Minor characters came and went from their lives. Thankfully many remained taking time to get to know our new characters and their new story.

However this is not the end. Theirs is once again a love story. It is no longer the conventional boy meets girl story but one with twists and turns and an unknown future plot. The love they have for their son Conor motivates them to keep going. Their love for each other is stronger for the experience of becoming parents to a little boy. They are finding ways to live as three even if one is invisible to the naked eye. A life lived, however short cannot simply be ignored or forgotten. It is easier to move forward in their new life by remembering and celebrating Conor’s life. There are millions of beaches still waiting to have Conor’s name written in the sand. There are stars to be collected and birthday cakes waiting to be baked. Their protagonist will always be at the centre of their story.

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Forever loved and always remembered – Conor Patrick.

Written on the occasion of Conor’s Mummy & Daddy’s 4th wedding anniversary.