My heart can’t help but ache for my darling hubby as yet another Father’s Day arrives, his second without Abi.
When we met, in 1996, I was dating his rather unsavory friend. It wasn’t serious and a bit of an experiment for me, which naturally didn’t work out. But what did work is that through him, I met the man with whom I would share my life.
I’d been single a short while when we met again by chance and, as we chatted, for the first time I noticed his kind, sparkling blue eyes. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul and I realized that for a long time I’d been looking for ‘love’ in the wrong places.
I saw him and something clicked in me. It was as though I knew the man before I’d even got to know him. It wasn’t the usual feeling of being swept away with supposed desire, or being tempted by swagger or materialism. It wasn’t even love at first sight. It was simply that I saw him and knew.
Our getting together wasn’t what would be considered traditional. I couldn’t get him out of my head and so on another encounter, I asked him for a date. A proper day-time date. He looked surprised and delighted at the same time. I’ll never forget his gorgeous eyes lighting up at that! Yet I felt nervous. Something was telling me to tread cautiously, because this was different. I was worried about getting it wrong. Yet I wasn’t looking for another boyfriend. I’d had my fill after the last disaster and felt I needed time alone, but life doesn’t work out according to our plan!
Our first date, on 26th July 1997, was sweetly awkward but also pleasant and comfortable. We still celebrate that anniversary today. I felt at ease but on my toes. It was a refreshing feeling!
And that was it; just nine months later we were engaged. I was 21. So young yet so certain.
We had a small wedding service at our local church on 15th May 1999. We were so cost conscious that we didn’t even have an evening wedding reception. We didn’t really want what we were pressured to have just because ‘it’s what you do’. We stuck to our guns. We simply wanted to be married. The church service was more important to us than the party and we needed every penny for our first home.
We both wanted to settle and have three children and we wanted to be young enough to enjoy them for as long as possible (and with perhaps greater energy!). We didn’t waste time!
So it was that we were expecting Abigail by March 2000 and she arrived, pink and perfect, in November. I remember the night I laboured was a classic autumn night, blustery wind and rain whipping up the leaves. Yet when I finally held her in my arms it was just after 8am and the sun forced it’s way into our hospital room, beaming through the frosted glass. A new day, a new life.
I know now that God gave him to me – as they say, a match made in heaven. He saw I was lost and knew what I needed was the love of a good, selfless man.
He has always been my rock, my constant, through the ups and downs of married life. His patience knows no bounds. He invested himself completely in our marriage and our family.
It wasn’t long before we were blessed with another daughter in 2002 and then, after a longer pause, we tried again in 2005 but lost the baby at seven weeks, so we were delighted when I safely delivered a son in 2007.
When we decided to try for a fourth child, he was there for me despite my inner turmoil when I suffered two further losses, the first at seven weeks and then a baby girl, we privately later named Bella (a name Abi had chosen), at 14.5 weeks, all just weeks before Abi too left us.
All we wanted was to enjoy and grow our family, but it seemed to be cruelly crumbling away from us without warning or reason. It’s taken every ounce of strength to hold on, but we have somehow clung together.
And now, as I write this, on the eve of Father’s Day, our eldest daughter rests in heaven with our unborn babies, our second daughter is asleep in her bed, our son is downstairs excitedly watching the World Cup England match with his dad, and our four-month-old baby son is snuggled into me having a last feed before bed.
I hear the boys chattering downstairs, sharing a special moment together. I know how much this bonding time means to him, how his children are his world, how much he misses Abi. He’d do anything for each of us.
I find Father’s Day harder than Mother’s Day as I hate to know how much pain he is covering up. I see the forever change in his joyful, carefree personality that attracted me to him all those years ago and it saddens me to see the burden he has to carry. I know those kind blue eyes lost some of their sparkle when Abi died, but I admire and love him for his determination to be the father his other children need him to be.
You deserve some happiness on Father’s Day, darling, just knowing you have our four wonderful children always in your heart. You may not always be needed and each will need you in different ways, but they will all learn so much from you about loving and giving, and will be forever thankful for what a wonderful father you are!