Today is Father’s Day, 2018. Of all the things that raced through my head, and continue to echo, in the days following the death of my daughter, Emma Lengquist, was/is “How do I answer the question of how many kids do you have?”
Do I just say “Four” and move on?
Do I break the casualness of the question by explaining in great detail “Four, but…”?
Do I really have to be reminded each and every time someone asks a basic societal question that part of me is missing?
Spiritually, I know where Emma is. And I’m happy for her.
Selfishly, and very much so, I miss what she could have been. What she was. And what she still is to me, if only in memory.
I feel I have a clear picture of Emma. The real Emma. Not a made up tribute-memory. With all the ups, all the downs and in-betweens, I’d take her back faster than any thought you could ever have.
Today will be fun. I’ll grill out a bit. There will be a long dog walk. I’ll work as the later evening approaches getting ready for my week. I’ll spend time with my sons, the women that they love, my daughter and my wife. It will be good day. I’m appreciative of each of them in my life. Of that, there is no doubt.
And I’ll wrestle with the question, “Am I STILL a father of four, or 3/4 of a father?”
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Three and a half years after our middle son passed away, I still find this question difficult to encounter. After 25 years of having 5 children, what do I have now? In the past few months, I’ve found that avoiding the question is easiest, though not always most comfortable. Grace and peace to you as you learn to navigate these difficult days and typical societal conversations.
This is so hard for us parents who have lost a child. Sometimes I say I have 3 children and leave it at that. There are sometimes I am comfortable saying I have 3 children – 2 here on earth, 1 in heaven. The most difficult of all is when someone I have recently met asks about my children – their ages, what they do, etc. When I get to my youngest and say he died 7 years ago they are stunned. I feel sorry for them as they don’t know how to respond. We must all be sensitive when asking questions about how many children does someone have. Perhaps we should just say, “Tell me about your children” which leaves it up to our discretion how we answer. Depending upon how strong we feel in the moment this allows us flexibility to respond in a general manner or get more specific. Some questions never seem to get any easier as there is always a part of our hearts which are missing until we see them again!
Thanks for sharing. I still think you’re a father of four. I could be wrong. I mean, I’m a single gal with a dog, but, just because Emma isn’t here on Earth, doesn’t change the fact you’re her Dad. I hope that encourages you. To me, you”ll always be Emma’s Dad. Praying for you, as you navigate these waters.