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Being a Dad – The Best of Times

“The loss of a loved one, is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired.” –  Robert Southey

Being a dad–heck being a parent–is like A Tale of  Two Cities, by Charles Dickens….

A good friend of mine and his wife lost their child a few days ago. As a dad who also lost a child, it hit me pretty hard. I feel their loss and their pain, even though (for me) it happened 20 years ago. Some days that pain still feels raw, and it still hurts like it was yesterday.

So that first paragraph from A Tale of  Two Cities is really what being a dad/parent is all about…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

There is no greater joy in life then the birth of your child, and no greater  heartache then  losing a child.

Sadly, we cannot have one without the possibility of the other. We can’t truly have love without hate, or happiness without sadness.

This quote, by Rabindranath Tagore,  helped me see that loss may not always have to lead to a part of you dying inside, that she can always live on–in my heart.

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

Through all these years (after her death), I was angry, hurt and felt guilty. I felt that it should have been me and not her that passed that cold , snowy December day. It has become easier, but it’s still there, and still feels fresh.

A lot changed on a very cold February afternoon 3+ years ago–with the birth of my little boy. He made me see that I am still alive (inside) and that I can open myself up to that kind of love again. She may be gone in the physical sense of the word, but she lives on in my heart and through her brother, each day.

So, as Tagore says in his quote, her light is not extinguished. She went to her “Dawn.” Yes, I am sad, but also happy, because I was able to share all of her life  moments, brief though her life was. It is hard, but I hope my friend and his family can find that “Dawn.”


About Don Jackson

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  1. Well written, Don. I find it interesting that if you lose your parents, you’re an orphan. If you lose your spouse, you’re a widow(er). Yet, we don’t have a word to describe someone who’s lost a child. Maybe it’s because no single word could hold that much pain. Keep strong.

  2. A very very moving post. I really can’t imagine any greater pain than losing a child. Only a couple of nights ago my eldest told me that if I die she’d still loves me. Left me blubbering, but she has a good point – love never dies.

  3. Don – I think that you did a great job of writing well about a really sensitive issues. I’m sorry to hear of your friends’ loss and also to hear that you also went through the same experience.

  4. An hour ago I watch long forgotten videos of my boy when he was less than an hour old. To then read your post it was so emotional it made of cry. I cannot begin to imagine the range of emotions you went through, and no doubt still do, but also to read how you found strength in your experience.
    A provocative post.

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