The hardest thing I ever had to tell my daughter

I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful, sunny October day. It was one of those rare days in Arkansas where you can actually be comfortable outside.

But it wasn’t comfortable at my house. My wife had returned from the hospital only a few days before, and we now had the help of the wonderful people from Hospice.

But on this Friday, we knew she didn’t have much time.

My daughter was in sixth grade at the time, and rode the bus home. We lived in a little subdivision outside of town, and the bus stopped about a block from our house.

Normally, she would get off the bus and walk home. But on this day, I knew I needed to meet her when she got off the bus.

When she saw me, she could instantly tell from the expression on my face that something was wrong. Of course, she knew her mom was sick. Very sick. And I’m sure her first thought was that something terrible had happened. It’s not the normal way kids want to spend their afternoons after they get home from school.

I didn’t say much to her. I didn’t need to. “You need to talk to mom.”

“Ok,” she said, not really sure what it was she was supposed to talk to her mom about.

“No,” I said. “You REALLY need to talk to mom. Do you understand? You need to talk to her as soon as we get home.”

She didn’t say much else as we walked home. What else could she say.

And what else could I say to her? What do you say to your 11-year-old daughter who is about to lose her mother.

My daughter did talk to her mom that afternoon for a while, which was a good thing. In fact, we all talked to her that day. We knew the end was near, just not how near. My wife went to sleep later that day. And although she didn’t pass away for three more days, she never regained consciousness.

That conversation with my daughter that day was a hard one. But I’m glad I told her, stressed to her, the importance of talking to her mother on that October afternoon.

And I’m glad she got to have the final conversation, a chance to say goodbye.

As you might imagine, my daughter struggled at times as a teenager. After all, a girl about to become a teenager needs her mom. There were a lot of things that I would never be able to teach her, at least not as well as her mom did.

And it’s safe to say that we haven’t had a typical father-daughter relationship. We’ve developed several common interests, our favorite being going to concerts. I’ve tried to always be there for her; and she has always been supportive of me.

I'm proud of my daughter for surviving adversity to become an outstanding young woman.

I’m proud of my daughter for surviving adversity to become an outstanding young woman.

I’ve often wondered over the years how I would have reacted if it had been me who lost a parent when I was that age. To be honest, I’m not sure how I would have done. But I doubt I would have come through it, survived my teenage years, as well and with as much dignity as she did. And I’m very proud of how well she’s overcome adversity in her life and become such a wonderful young lady and compassionate human being.

 

  6 comments for “The hardest thing I ever had to tell my daughter

  1. January 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Yet another one of your posts that resonates with me. I constantly wonder whether I am doing the right thing by my boys, whether they are going to grow up and be happy and productive.

    • January 15, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I think as long as you’re doing what you think is right, what you think is in the best interest of your kids, as long as you love them and let them know you love them, then you’re doing the right thing. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.
      Thanks for reading.

  2. January 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Mark, you have been the best father ever to your kids. I know Tracy would be so proud of you for all your devotion to the kids. And, so proud of them! Sam was a baby and Hannah was soon to become a teenager. I certainly admire you and your family for looking forward and for having the strength to endure. You have been their rock.

    • January 15, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Thank you, Vicki. You know it hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve tried to do my best. But it’s also been great to know I live and work in a place with good, supportive people like you. Thanks for all your encouragement over the years.

  3. January 16, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Very beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

    • January 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you, Katharine.

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