To my husband and the father of my son, this Father’s Day:
These last five months of parenting have not been easy; they have unintentionally tested your strength, patience and love. Four and a half years ago, we publically avowed before friends and family to love each other through sickness and in health until death do us part. And, when we decided to start a family, a few years later, we silently pledged to love our children unconditionally and be the best parents we could, regardless of the circumstances.
You’ve embraced your evolving role as a father and the new responsibilities associated with caring for our palliative son. Fatherhood has tested you early my dear husband and you have surpassed all expectations. Sure, you have moments (although rare) where you lose your patience, struggle with jealousy and succumb to the mental and physical exhaustion related with caring for a sick child but no parent is perfect. You however are the perfect father for our son.
When you look at our son, you look past his disabilities and still see the same boy who used to run to you smiling, babbling ‘Dada’ when you returned from work. You’ve retained your enthusiasm, constantly encouraging me to look beyond the lost opportunities and to continue building new memories. You haven’t received a full night’s sleep in months and have become more experienced than most nurses at advanced wound care, inserting nasogastric tubes and administering medicine subcutaneously. Your job as a father is thankless and made even more difficult because your hard work is not reciprocated through smiles and hugs like other dads but this has not defeated you.
I know it weighs on you but you couldn’t protect Theo from becoming sick and unfortunately you can’t prevent his pain but you have ensured that he is loved every minute of every day. You are and will always be his superhero.
You have been Theo’s caregiver alongside me for five months but next week you’ll be exchanging your stethoscope for your hardhat when you return to work for weeks at a time. As the pillar of this family, I know it will be not easy for you to leave us. No father should have to leave his child (albeit a palliative one) for any extended period. The sacrifice you are making for the security of our family is a testament to your love and loyalty.
Becoming parents has changed our relationship but in the last few months our bond has strengthened and our love deepened beyond what I thought imaginable for a couple our age. I never really knew how much I loved you until I saw how much you loved our son. It is those moments when I catch you sitting next to his crib reading to him at night, or gathering him into your arms after painful dressing changes, or dropping everything and rushing to his side every time he coughs, that I am reminded of the strength of your love. I am only the mother I am because you are the father you are.
Being a father to our children will be the most important thing you will do in life. And, I wish I could assure you that it will get easier but I can’t. I can only thank you for loving our son unconditionally and having you by my side as we continue to face the challenging and rewarding journey of parenthood together.
Happy Father’s Day, my love.