My 4-year-old son, Sam, made it bright and magical with his excitement and the light in his eyes as we watched Christmas movies, put up the tree and went to look at all the lights on the houses in our neighborhood.
This is the first year he has really understood all the little traditions and fun rituals that go with the holiday at our house. It was amazing. I have not been so excited about Christmas since I was small myself.
But even with all the joy, there was a certain ache in my heart. It was another Christmas without my dad.
I remember telling him I was pregnant as a special gift the Christmas before my son was born. I had created a special announcement card and pasted a great picture of the 3D ultrasound. “Coming Soon – Samuel Benjamin – due March 22, 2012.” I gave it to him as the final present at my family’s celebration.
When he read it, he started to cry which made all of us cry. He had been sick for a long time and we all felt so lucky when he was able to meet my son. I know he tried so hard to be sure to be around for the birth. He had to be wheeled into my hospital room to hold Sam. We all hoped that he would be around long enough to see as many of Sam’s firsts as possible. Sadly, though, he died of cancer in 2013. My son was 14 months old.
As anyone who has watched someone they love die of a terminal illness, their death still manages to come as a harsh and painful surprise. You can only prepare yourself for their death so much.
Honoring My Dad’s Spirit
As I look back at that time, I feel sad that there were so many milestones that my father didn’t get to see and so many to come that he will miss. As I tried to handle my own grief, I realized that it was my job to share my dad with Sam as much as I possibly could. To give my son a sense of the father I knew. It was a way to honor my father’s spirit and share a wonderful person with Sam.
I want my son to know that his Papa loved him, but more to know him as much as he can. So I share stories, pictures, favorite movies, favorite songs and special memories. This is the only way I have to share my father with my son. And, no, it isn’t enough. But it is the best I can do. And somehow, that helps the ache that I have and keeps my dad alive for me, too.