Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

The father of my children is magical.

This is how it all started: we were in an ice rink. We were skating around, perhaps ten of us, all from the same hall in the Middlebury dorm. Greg was appealing to me, his smile was wide, he was generous, and funny, and fair. Never had I thought past that, though. And then, as we glided around, and around, and around, somewhere on the ice a little girl lost her mitten. Greg saw this, the little red mitten, alone on the ice, and he picked it up. He skated (with the kind of grace that only a Canadian hockey player could have) around the ice, his feet crossing and floating beneath him, his eyes scanning, until he saw the bare hand: it was a small girl, seated in a stroller, her mother pushing her.

But my dear, sweet Greg did not just kindly stop the mother, and hand her the mitten, no. He shhusshed to a sudden stop, knelt on the cold, hard, ice, and put that mitten back onto that child's hand. I watched, in awe. He was nineteen. I said it out loud, to myself, to the ice, to the cold, misty air around me: I am going to marry that man.

It worked itself out, seamlessly, it seemed, until the day that this man, this strong, handsome, funny, ever-smiling man, lost his daughter. Our love had been blessed with such good luck since the beginning and then, seven and a half years later, it was put to the test.

This is a piece of the grief that gets missed by many: the grief of watching the person you love so much in pain. This was the grief I felt for Greg: the sadness I would feel looking at his long, sad face, watching his tears fall onto his chest and roll quietly down into his belly button where they might collect. I would look at his face and could see this man who desperately wanted this tiny little girl to love: he just wanted to be a dad, and that was all. It hadn't seemed like too much to ask for. It broke my heart.
I still feel this, this strange, detatched sadness, which is reserved for Greg. It takes me back to the day she was born, the day she died. When they told us, when they saw that her heart wasn't beating anymore, and said those words, I just went numb. I stared at the wall, and I didn't know what to do. But Greg did, he did.
He burst into tears, real, hard tears, he wept copiously and continuously, his head bent and buried in my huge, swollen belly. He wrapped his arms around his dream and he cried as I should have, knowing that his dreams of fatherhood would be unfulfilled. I envied him.
When Charlotte was born, he was so tender with her. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen him do: to hold his daughter with his big, strong hands, delicately, with care. He kissed her soft hair, and talked to her in a quiet, new voice that I'd never heard before. This was the father I had been waiting for. This was the piece of Greg I had anticipated all those years earlier when he put the mitten on the baby. Finally, our moment had come, and soon it would be over.
I weep for Greg, still. Sometimes, when I catch him in a moment alone with Aoife, I strangely think of how this would have been him, a girl-dad, hanging out with his daughter, just dad and his girl. I wonder what that would have been like. I wish we could have known.
I am grateful for Greg in so many ways. He is an active, loving father. He is patient, kind, and loyal. He is generous, funny, and always happy, except when he is sad. I am so humbly appreciative to be married to someone who is rarely frustrated and almost never angry. This makes our life so peaceful. He is amazing with the kids. He takes things slow, he introduces them to new things, and is always willing to stop to help. He always makes them feel smart and appreciated.
And on top of that, my Greg is a master carpenter, fabulous chef, he gardens, he paints, carves rocks, builds us fine shaker furniture, and he has never, ever, not even once left the toilet seat up.
Really, who could ask for anything more?
I love you Greg... You are, in my most humble opinion, among the top Dads ever.... and I am so fortunate to be witness to all of this.


Jen said...

That was so beautiful and sad and loving that I am now bawling my eyes out.

Mama said...

me too, the tears are falling. such love can be found here in these words.

CLC said...

Beautiful post. I love the picture.

Janya said...

wow. just wow.

kate said...

what a beautiful post.