Written by Joe Dambach (2011)
“The parent child relationship never ends. A mother or father will always remain a parent regardless of the age of the child at the time of death or the reason the child is no longer present.
Time may bring more sophisticated coping strategies but the absence of the loved child lingers in the heart of the parent and remains there for their entire lives.”
-from Journey Through Loss by Julie Siri
So true. It’s been nearly 19 months since Luke’s passing. It might as well have been yesterday. We’ve been grieving ever since and it has not been easy, despite any outward appearances. Father’s Day (along with Mother’s Day) is one of the hardest days.
I find myself going into deep reflection; thinking of the good and happy times with Luke, but also the difficult times. Words cannot describe the pain since his death. It’s hard to separate the good memories from the pain, as if you can’t have one without the other. They are woven together, balled up into one big tangled mess of mixed emotions.
It’s 4:40am, and I’m listening to the birds talk and sing and play. I think about the difference between mourning and grief. Mourning being a public display of grief. I think about how everyone grieves differently and that there are no shortcuts. It comes in bursts and waves and sometimes I just want to wallow in its wake.
Grief cannot be avoided. Like the lines in the children’s book, Going on a Bear Hunt, where they say, “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.” You have to go through grief, in order to be able to manage it. To deal with it. There is no way around it.
I think of the times I would sit outside with Luke, on the side of the house, in the shade, reading a book while Luke would feel the light breeze blowing on his face, his eyes squinting, hair flowing. He’d get that glow of happiness that could transcend his disabilities. I think of lying in bed with him, when I used to take him out of the crib and lay him next to me. We’d both sleep and wake and sleep and just enjoy relaxing together, suction machine always within arms reach.
I think of the painful and haunting memories. I think of the worst night of my life, when Luke died. I think about how we had to leave the hospital, leave without him. No going back. It was 3:30am when we drove off into the darkness.
We’re still in the darkness.
It’s 5:01am and I can hear the birds. A distant wah-hooo, hoo hoo – the call of the mourning dove. I can see the glow of the mourning light.
By Joe Dambach
Thank you to fellow grieving dad and friend Joe Dambach for sharing this piece with us. He was kind enough to share some of his thoughts, emotions and reflections regarding the loss of his beautiful little boy Luke.