A child is equal parts Mom and Dad. Perhaps, when children are small, they gravitate towards their mama partly because we carry them but, there is a social norm that defines women as the primary caregiver.
What about a father? When we think of a typical family, fathers are “breadwinners”, “read the papers after a hard day at work”, “leave child rearing to mothers”. Is this really true? Probably not.
Mali’s Dad was unique in the fact that the first year of her life, he was her primary caregiver. She was his world. He held her first when she came into the world. She gravitated towards him and shied away from me when I came home from work. All the firsts; walking, eating new things, playing, haircut; all experienced with her Dad. Those two had an inseparable bond. As she grew older her music choices, views of the world, astronomy, traveling; all reflected Mali’s and her Dads musings. He was the last one to hold her the day she died. I think about that and I am speechless. What that must have been like to have been there when that precious girl came into this world and when she decided to leave.
I cannot speak to what it feels like to be a father who has lost his babygirl. Throw suicide into that mix and I really have no clue. I am not a father.
Men are programmed to be stoic, hard, unwavering in the face of indescribable pain and suffering. On the outside, everything looks in place. Men break, fathers break, husbands break.
The point I am trying to make here (most likely badly) is that father’s are not forgotten in the quagmire of losing a child to suicide. Just in case any fathers that read this, I want you to know that your child loved you. It’s not your fault. You have real feelings about your child’s death and you need to express them. They are important as you are important. Even if it takes you a long time.
If the thought that people are judging you silently because “You must have been a shitty parent and that’s why your girl killed herself” know that their opinions means shit and they can go fuck themselves. Your daughter adored you and you know this.
Something I have thought about often lately is that families are all built differently. Some have both parents. Some only one. Children can be both alive or waiting for us on the other side. It still makes a family.
When you feel you are all alone in your pain, know you aren’t. Open your eyes and look around. There are people who love you and walk right next to you through the most unbelievable pain imaginable.