Monday, August 8, 2011

The News

conference call blues

It was Friday afternoon, and I was busy wrapping up some work that had been piled on my desk. I was looking forward to the end of the week, and for some relaxing time on the weekend. There was a lot on my mind, with Camp Widow being just around the corner, and things to get done at home. Suddenly my cell phone rang, and I could see it was my daughter calling.

"Hi Dad. I need to talk to you."

It was the tone of her voice that made me take a deep breath, and purposefully let go of any prior thought that was lingering in my mind.

Yes, daughter. What's going on?

"Well, please don't be mad at me. I know you are going to be disappointed"

I knew it before she could say it.

"I'm pregnant."


In that moment time seemed to stand still. I knew that whatever I said next could either make, or break, her spirit. I could hear her sobbing in the background. My daughter is 20 years old. She's an adult, and no longer lives at home. I've had to let go the idea that I have much control over what goes on in her her daily life. I still have influence, but it is her life, and lately, it seems that my role is to help her pick up the pieces.

My mind immediately turned to Michael, and I could picture the look he would have given me in that moment. If he had been sitting by my side his hand would have reached over to lay upon my own. He would have discretely squeezed my hand to let me know that I need to remain calm.

Michael was the calm and methodical one in our relationship. He was often the good cop, and yes, I was the bad one. I don't mean that in a negative way, but by the time he entered my life I had already been a single parent for many years. When Michael joined our family it was a breath of fresh air for all of us. The kids finally felt like there was another adult, another parent they could turn to when Dad was already angry. Michael could be that go between person, the one that buffered our responses before temperaments got raised.

When my mind was able to refocused I found that I was quite calm. I had been here before. I had heard news that I didn't want to hear, and was able to recover. Am I disappointed? Yes. But being angry, and drowning in disappointment, will not help my daughter during this time. I reminded her that I loved her, and that she would have my full support. I told her that we would talk during the weekend, and that she would have the opportunity to share this with her brothers.

Today my daughter was able to share her news with my parents. They actually handled the surprising news quite well. I was very proud of my mother, who can be a bit harsh with her words at times. Yet as soon as my daughter left the room my mother turned to me and said, "after all you have been through, this is not what you needed." I looked at my mother purposefully, and explained to her that I have already been through the worst in life. Nothing will ever compare to that. Anything else that comes my way is a piece of cake at this point. And bringing a new life into this world, however it happens, is always a good thing.

I have come to accept that I cannot control the lives that surround me. All I can do is respond to them with loving kindness. I have said goodbye to the man that I loved. I held him in my arms as his life came to an end. Now it appears that I will be saying hello to a new life in the coming year. My only sadness of course is that Michael won't be here to share in this new life. Another chapter to face on my own.

Life continues to move forward. I, in turn, must do the same.


  1. May each step we take lead the way to peace. May Michael’s spirit infuse with the right words your conversations with her.

  2. "I have come to accept that I cannot control the lives that surround me. All I can do is respond to them with loving kindness."

    This is wisdom, pure and simple.

  3. "I have gone through the worst thing" I 2nd that. Anything else seems minimal. My daughter just turned 18,so I am like you no longer in control.

  4. Yes. You said it so well. We have all been through the worst thing that could have ever happened to us. Anything else is "a piece of cake". Our kids know that they have us to lean on no matter what. They've seen us handle "the worst" and know that we have infinite strength to deal with whatever comes along. We are parents forever. Thank you so much, Dan, for sharing this with us. Whenever you share glimpses of your Michael, I could swear that you are writing about mine. They sound so much alike and they both showed us how to live.

  5. When you first became a blogger on Widow's Voice I was not quite sure how I felt. I had a gay brother that had died of aids and even small reminders are still painful. But after getting to know you through your posts I have grown to love you. You are such a beautiful person. A few months before my husband became ill and died my unmarried grown daughter became pregnant. Initially, emotionally it was very trying. But I want you to know after my husband died my grandson was one of the greatest joys of my life. I had seen death and have now experienced life in a much different way. This new life makes my heart swell. There are those times when I wish my husband was here to share all of this love.
    You are blessed to be so wise and loving.

  6. Beautiful .
    If all of us just did that - set aside our judgment of others and responded to them with loving kindness - we wouldn't need organized religion, we wouldn't need to separate ourselves by our differences, we could live out the most important doctrine of all belief systems.

    Just love
    It can be that easy.
    thanks for the reminder Dan.

  7. At the end of every day, it is what it is. You are so wise to know that loving acceptance will make a difference in your daughter's life that anger and judgement never could. And congratulations, Grandpa ;)

  8. Every time you write about your Michael, I think of mine...and I am grateful for your ability to put in to words what I sometimes need to say! And I look forward to your journey with your daughter and your grandchild!!

  9. Well said! Praising God for a life that could be taken but instead is going to be born to LIVE! So thankful your daughter has such a loving father to support her and help her in the days to come. May this baby bring joy and laughter to your life!
    A grateful lurker

  10. It is often quite hard for me to embrace that the worst has already happened, but it has, and I (we) have survived. Congratulations in a unique way :)

  11. You, my friend, are a wonderful parent. You know that I recently went through something "quite large" with one of my children. The "before me" would have reacted totally different than the "after me". We have indeed been through the worst thing we could go through. I've known that from Day 1. And I love how it shapes my views, thoughts, actions and beliefs now. All I have to offer anyone, especially those I love, is love and support. No judgement. Not an ounce.
    And that makes me a better parent.
    I'm just sorry that it took losing half of my heart to make me a better parent.
    Great job, Dan. And thank you SO much for being vulnerable and sharing this very personal experience with us.
    And I look forward to the day that I can call you "Grandpa"! ;-)

  12. Just a question: Why would anyone come to a widow blog as a "grateful lurker" or "creeper" if you aren't widowed?

    I find it exceptionally creepy and voyeuristic. Responding to this blog in our anguish and honesty about living life widowed isn't to be viewed as a spectator sport.
    It makes me really uncomfortable.

  13. The poster didn't indicate if he/she was widowed or not. Many, many widowed people "lurk" here, which just means that they don't comment. There are many more "lurkers" than commenters. I know someone who comes to this site because her husband is dying and I think she's very brave to do so. I would bet there are many readers like her, who will one day be "one of us".
    I also know that some people read it so that they can better understand their friends/loved ones who are grieving.
    I hope this helps you to feel less uncomfortable. It's bad enough that you have to grieve, I'd hate to think you feel that you can't come here and read/comment. Please know that I am completely comfortable writing here, as are the others, I would guess. No matter who's reading, because I think everyone comes here for a reason.
    A really horrible reason.

  14. Thank you Janine for sharing your wise words here. I share my story for all that stop by to read. Yes, it is with mind that my fellow widowed are here to understand, feel validated, and feel safe enough to share comments when so moved. My heart is always open to be touched by each of your thoughts. Especially today, I'm feeling a sense of love and support that can only come from a community such as ours.

    Bless you all.

  15. I am not the original "grateful lurker" but I come here periodically, and I am not widowed. I do not come here to be voyeuristic nor do I come here as a spectator of a sport. I for one come here because some days I need simply need to be reminded of the important things in my life and while it makes me, a stranger, sad to know you have this knowledge to share, because of personal tragedy, I appreciate that due to your individual tragedies you do have perspective on things. As is clearly evidenced in this post by Dan. Congratulations to you and your Daughter Dan. Congratulations for having perspective and congratulations on the new joys and smiles coming your way.


  16. As a blog team, we appreciate each and every reader. Our hope is that by sharing our widowed journey, more people will see the real faces of widowhood. And the more people in communities around the world know a place like Widow's Voice exists...the less likely they or anyone they know will have to walk the widowed road alone should that be the route they find themselves or someone they love must travel. I am continually grateful to our Widow's Voice writers for sharing their truth, wherever that takes them. Thank you to all our of readers for being willing to walk a spell with us.

  17. Congrats, Dan and Daughter. BTW, I am a Widower but that is just a small part of who I am. :)


    Everything Strength

  18. Responding to anonymous from the grateful lurker. In no way do I visit this blog and view it as a spectator sport or to be voyeuristic. No, I am not widowed. I come here because I have many widowed neighbors that I minister to. They are some of my closest friends. My neighbor across the street will be losing her husband soon to pancreatic cancer. I have not walked in your shoes but I do have compassion for others. This blog has taught me so many things. I have learned to be thankful for the small things, to tell my family and friends how much I love them, to respect others and their feelings. To realize that although I may see something one way, it doesn't mean it is the only way, as I am viewing it through my glasses and the other is wearing a different pair. I am grateful for all that I have learned from this group of people who have opened their hearts to share their experiences with others. In no way do I wish to offend you or make you feel uncomfortable and am sorry if I did by signing my post a grateful lurker. My name is Sheri. I am the mother of five beautiful children and have been married for 23 years. Please forgive me for hurting you.