Father’s Day is a hard day for my husband, because it was on Father’s Day 2007 that Wendy first announced she had a stomach ache. That stomach ache turned into a life threatening bacterial infection, that turned into cascading organ failure, sepsis, and an eventual kidney transplant, abdominal surgeries, and a variety of secondary diagnoses.
I can understand why he doesn’t like the holiday. But I wish he would get over it because he’s a kickass dad and we need to celebrate that.
When Wendy was in the hospital, over 200 nights as an inpatient, he spent almost every single night with her. They had their own routine: They would walk me down to the entryway, come back, set up the beds, brush teeth, get in pajamas, and then read Harry Potter. While in the hospital they read almost the entire series. After hours they would sometimes go for walk in the hospital, to the PICU to see the fish tank, or to look in the gift shop window. When I arrived in the morning with coffee, we would both stay to listen to rounds and then he would head back to our hotel room to take a nap, because honestly how much sleep did he honestly get on a tiny bed in a hospital room?
When Wendy was released, and the family still had to live in Boston to be close to the hospital, my husband looked for an apartment that we could afford and where I would be comfortable being there alone with her. He found one that not only fit those requirements, but also allowed for a free shuttle back and forth to the hospital. Then he went back to work in Vermont, working three twelve hour days at work, and driving down to Boston for the long weekend, and to relieve me a little bit of the child care. When he was offered a new job, even though he was worried that he couldn’t commit to it entirely because of Wendy’s health and said so, his boss said, “So you’ll be at 80 percent the first year, and you’ll make it up in the coming years, I can live with that.” And so, Michael took a new job as we waited for a new kidney.
When I found out I was pregnant with our second child, also while waiting for the new kidney, I was terrified of telling my husband, because I was scared that it was the one thing that would put him over the edge. But he was so excited, so happy, that I couldn’t be that worried. Ok, I was still worried. New job, new kidney, new baby, in that order.
Now we’re in the present, with two girls who are relatively healthy and stable, and he goes to every sporting event, every recital, every activity. He arranges the family schedule and sends me and Wendy our invites. He is his happiest when he is watching his girls perform, especially sporting events, but also for music recitals and art shows. Everything else comes second to those things.
I am lucky to have a kind and caring partner, who loves being a dad as much as this man does. Our road has been bumpy with health problems and moves and changes of jobs, but he remains constant. And so, I really really want to celebrate him on Father’s Day, even if he doesn’t want to be reminded of it, because it’s what started all the trouble, but in its own way, it also started all the grace and greatness of this man.
Happy Father’s Day to all the kickass dads, especially those who are fathers of chronically ill kids, or those who carry an extra burden as a single dad. The world doesn’t give you enough credit, but I certainly do.