Friday, June 13, 2008

Card Shopping for Father's Day

I knew buying father’s day cards would be difficult but I never imagined that it would be THIS difficult. Anyhow, I decided to tackle it yesterday and it was NOT fun!

I have only seen my dad cry 4 times that I can remember. The first was a few years ago at some random moment when our entire immediate family was in Phoenix for Passover. My older brother, his wife, their two children, my younger brother, his girlfriend (now wife), my dad and I (unfortunately my boyfriend, now husband, could not come) all sat around the table having dinner outside on the patio of the house my older brother rented for the week. My dad was telling stories and during one story about a friend back in Morocco he started to tear up. I still to this day have no idea why but I remember Aimee and I talking about it shortly after and commenting that my father had gotten a lot more emotional as he got older. I could imagine that the fact that he was having a nice family dinner with his three grown up children that lived in different cities and even different countries and were starting their own families might have been a bit touching to him.

The second was on Friday, January 11th. It was the day after his birthday and I went to his house for our usual Friday night dinner together but this time Dug was able to come because he was off work. We had the best birthday present ever to give him!!! We came into his apartment and did the hello hugs, and kisses and then I handed him his birthday gift and card. He opened the card and looked curiously at what was tucked inside. “What is this?” he asked as he turned it around and tried to figure out what it was. “It’s an ultrasound picture” I said. He still didn’t get it. “I’m pregnant!” I said “We’re having twins!” as I pointed to the two little blurry circles on the piece of paper. “Wow, that is so wonderful!” he said and then he started to cry. I couldn’t believe it. He was even happier than Dug’s mom was when we told her, although that was over the phone so we can’t really tell.

The third time I remember so vividly and I wish I didn’t because every time I think of it, it makes me cry and feel so awful that I had caused his pain. It was on Sunday May 4th, soon after Breanna was born and we let the grand parents in the delivery room. The nurse had Breanna and was putting her in a little dress off to the side. Dug’s parents were crying and went to be near her (although none of them picked her up or even touched her as far as I could see) but my dad stayed by the door and would not or could not get any closer to her. He looked at me with tears streaming down his face and said “can’t they do anything for her?” And I realize now just I am typing this that I responded much like Dr. Smith did when I saw Cole for the first time and asked him the exact same question. I shook my head No with a sympathetic I’m so sorry face.

The fourth time was at Cole and Breanna’s funeral. My father had written a beautiful message but felt that he could not read it so he gave it to my older brother to read. As my brother said the words that my father so eloquently wrote, so much so that I thought it was from a book, my father and I grasped hands so tight and with tears in his eyes he apologized for not being able to read his words himself.
I’m sure there have been many more tears after that and I feel awful being the one that brings them on. I remember reading in the grief pamphlets that grandparents suffer the most when there is a baby loss. Not only have they lost a grandchild and all the things they wanted to do with that child but they also feel like they have failed in protecting their own child from feeling so much pain. So what to do for father’s day this year? I sifted through the cards along the wall and for almost every card I read, I cried. People must have thought I was crazy. Kids were picking out cards for Dad and grandpa, wives for their father’s and husbands and I was standing there crying my eyes out. Every time I read a message it made me think about “what could have been”. I struggled with the choice of whether to get him a grandfather’s card from Cole and Breanna. I know that I don’t want to pretend that they didn’t exist but I’m not sure my father could handle something like that. And I thought about the tears I would bring on and how I had already caused so many. I eventually found a card that talked about how glad I am to be his daughter and on the front of the card was two little sets of baby foot prints. I thought well maybe this would be okay. It was clearly a “From you Daughter only” card but I felt it also symbolized Cole and Breanna without having to say anything about it. I still worry if it is still too in your face and I’ll have to see when I give it to him. I may just leave it for him as I leave rather than stand there and have him open it and read it in front of me over dinner.

As for my husband…. What to do? Finding a card for him was also difficult. Do I get him a card from Cole and Breanna or one from all of us together? No matter what I knew I had to recognize them… we are both on the same page in that regard….thank god! But how emotional should I get? There was the “father to be” with all this hope, the “first time father” filled with joy, the “from your daughter” or “from your son” talking about all the memories they have shared. Where was the card for the “father that lost a child” I wondered? With each card I read, tears streamed down my face in sadness of all the things that I wish we could have had, and what could have been.

I found some from you wife and realized that may work best. I ended up buying two and haven’t decided which one to give him. One is more of a “we are supporting each other” and the other is talking about “how proud that he is my husband and the father of my children.” The latter might be too difficult for him to receive but I love it and part of me thinks deep down he will appreciate it.

After I decided on getting both and making the final decision later, I turned my attention to what should I get from Cole and Breanna. I thought since mine was so emotional I’d get him something more happy and fun from the kids. I really wanted to get him something with Winnie the Pooh since the characters remind us of Cole and Breanna, but there wasn’t any, and I went to 3 different stores to look for cards. I finally stumbled upon a card that I liked. It had a doggy in a plane writing “Daddy” in the clouds. I thought wow, it’s like Cole and Breanna sending a message from the sky. I figured I’d add some Winnie the Pooh stickers to the card too to make it more “them”.

As I am writing this I realize that I did pretty well. Granted the process of looking for the right cards was extremely emotional but I think I got some great cards that I am now more comfortable with now that I have written about them and explained why I chose them. Maybe there really is something therapeutic about writing a blog. Hmmm.

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