It’s Father’s Day, and I’m thinking today about men who are fathers but do not have their children with them. Not just the fathers of the women and men we’ve lost to police violence and injustice in this country, but the men who were supposed to be fathers, but. . . something happened.
We’ve almost normalized talking about this for mothers, but not for fathers. But men who have suffered through miscarriages with their partners, I see you.
I am you.
It wasn’t our body that went through it, we think. It’s not the same for us, we try to convince ourselves. Many men are stunted in our expressions of grief and sadness. We are supposed to be strong, and with the exception of a few stoic, “manly” tears that manage to escape the prison of our bodies, there should be no sign of weakness or vulnerability, nothing to be exploited by an adversary.
But we are sad. And we can’t shake the occasional imagery that comes with the years. He would have ridden a tricycle today. She would have done her first recognizable drawing. We would be playing in the yard on a day like today. She would have graduated school today.
We think about who they would have been, and who we would have been because of them.
For my fellow Christian men, I want to express an extra portion of my love and support to you, not because of our shared faith, but because the community that should lighten your burdens often takes no notice of them at all. The community that pledges such vociferous support for the unborn (at least since about 1980) often has precious little to say when the unborn die of natural causes. A culture that expects traditional and sometimes patriarchal roles for men and women treats this loss as a women’s matter. But women who feel that infertility or loss is a curse or a punishment make poor consolers, and men who have no language of lament cannot cry with you.
My same Christian faith though gives me comfort. The souls that were going to experience life as those children are resting comfortably in the bosom of God. They know that you did your best for them. You were a good father to them and did your best to prepare a home for them. It’s not your fault that things did not work out that way. We can’t know the purposes of it all and may never, but it’s not your fault. And if no one has ever said that to you, I’m sorry, but I am telling you now.
It’s not your fault.
So brothers of all colors who have suffered this loss. I see you. I’ve been there.
And I wish you, too, a Happy Father’s Day.