Father’s Day without Emerson

Today is Father’s Day. A day to celebrate the wonderful men who put in the time and raise wonderful children. I have had many strong male role models in my life; starting, of course, with my father. But I want to talk about my husband right now.

Today my husband has to celebrate his first father’s day without Emerson, his first born. The first reading at church today, from Zechariah, talks about the death of Jesus and how it will feel. At one point it says ” ..they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.” That’s us. We’re grieving over a firstborn. Honestly, I am not sure if it means over the death of a firstborn or if it means over the choices your firstborn will make. God knows children always find a way to cause grief for their parents. But we’re grieving. We’re grieving the loss of our first born.

So I was thinking today a lot about grief, children, and being a father. Having never been a father, I am not sure how it feels although I suspect it is similar to being a mother (but different, because why not). I do know about my husband though. I know what an amazing father he is. And I know how much Emerson loves him.

My husband got the wonderful (enviable) opportunity to stay home with Emerson for about a year and a half. During that time, Emerson and Matt became very close.We always joke how Emerson was a mini Matt and Sorkin is a mini me. Now our mini Matt is gone (and so much more than that, since Emerson was also his own person). And so my heart breaks. My heart breaks for my loss. My heart breaks for my husband.

I’m not sure how to explain the relationship that Matt and Emerson had together. Emerson adored his daddy. The last week in the hospital, whenever Emerson was conscious and daddy was nearby, he tried to get out of bed and into Matt’s arms. The only picture I have of Emerson from that time is a picture of him looking off to the side of the camera: he’s looking at his daddy who was standing on the opposite side of the bed as me.

And so, it was only natural, when the time came to take Emerson off life support, that Matt held Emerson as he passed from this life into the next. Emerson just wanted his daddy to hold him and he finally got what he wanted one more time. I hope Emerson knew it was his daddy holding him. I hope he knows how much we love him and wanted to make every wish come true for him. I think he knows that now, but, in the moment, I really don’t know.

So while we celebrate Matt and his amazing transition into a father and his growth as a father, we also mourn the loss of his relationship with Emerson. We mourn for all of the never’s, could have been’s, should be’s.

On Father’s Day, just as on Mother’s Day, we visit the cemetery. And it is heartbreaking.

So to my husband: to the man who pushed Emerson every day, who nurtured growth, learning, and fun, to the man who started and stopped Emerson’s middle of the night feeding every night, did Emerson’s medications twice a day, and put in Emerson’s hearing aids (time and time again), to the man who coordinated Emerson’s medical care, took Emerson to school, took Emerson to music therapy, to the man who promoted Emerson’s love of music, making noise, swinging, walks, and (toy) cars: you are an amazing father. Emerson came so far because you worked so hard with patient love. Emerson was so happy to be home with you and I am so happy you got to be with him everyday. Thank you for continuing to be the same loving, caring, dedicated father to our surviving sons even through your pain and desolation. I could not ask for a better partner than you or a better father for our children. I love you Matt.

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