It’s that time of year again, the time of year when I have to relive the anniversary of the death of my beautiful daughter Katie. She was born and she died on the very same day, November 12, 2004. It’s been 6 years and I still get a sickness in my stomach when I think about the trauma that my wife and I endured. My heart breaks every time I think about the circumstances regarding her death. My mind automatically takes me right back to the events. Vivid images that I thought were dealt with and buried start to reveal themselves again. Images of the hospital room, the doctors and the expression on the face of my wife. I can still see her heartbreak while the doctor tells us the devastating news.
It’s been 6 years and sitting down to write about the anniversary and loss triggers so many emotions and tears. The anticipation becomes as much physical as it does psychological. I can feel the sadness increasing as the day approaches. Another year is gone and my sweet baby girl is not here with me.
Although the day to day pain has gotten better over time, the nervous anticipation leading up to the anniversary has remained the same. I start to think about the events that unfolded prior to her death and it causes me great anguish. She was so precious and loved and I am heartbroken that I was never able to hold her or comfort her. I would give anything to see her smile just once when I tell her how much her daddy loves her.
I allow myself to relive the moments and days leading up to her death for many reasons. I tried for a couple of years to neatly wrap up these emotions and place them in a dark corner of my mind. I learned the hard way that just because you want to hide from the pain, it doesn’t mean you will be able to. I read once that you can shut the door on grief but it will peak in the windows. The image of a dark figure lurking outside and peaking into the window paints a true picture. So I decided after running from it for so long that it was easier to face it head on. I found that talking or writing about her death is therapy for me.
I also know that by me being more transparent with my (do I dare say it) “feelings”, lets other men know that it’s okay for them to allow themselves to “go there” from time to time. Not to live there permanently, but to allow themselves certain times to let it out.
Even though sadness has been building for the last several days, the last 6 years has taught me that the anticipation is so much worse than the actual day. I try to spend time with her by thinking about all of the things she has taught me since her death. I know its Katie’s birthday that approaches, but she is the one that continues to provide me with gifts; gifts of compassion, patience, love, strength, perseverance and survival.
I know Katie and my son Noah are in heaven smiling down on me as this day approaches and that image provides me the strength to endure.