Today is my birthday and of course I miss Natasha even more, if that’s even possible. She was always so good at arranging brunch, parties and dinners–Natasha had such a raw flair for celebrations. So, sitting across from my daughter for my birthday dinner is wonderful, but also rather quiet. Why is it just us two? This isn’t right! My love for Natasha has not diminished at all, if anything, it has become stronger as I have learned to let certain marital issues go. Time is so fleeting, so why waste time with trivial life issues? Our marriage was not perfect, but our love was deep. We definitely had our issues, but our kind of love translates into a loss that cannot be put into words. I had to cremate the only person I have every completely felt a strong connection to. It feels like a volcano has erupted and blown the earth’s crust to bits and I am left scrambling to secure my footing for my family of two. And of course, trying to stabilize my little family brings up a lot of fear, fear that quickly turns into anger.
So much anger towards society for making me feel bad for discussing grief and loss. Parents at my daughter’s school asking me, “How was Christmas?” I can’t really tell the truth that each day I have to push myself to understand my new life path and that Christmas is always difficult. I can’t tell them that I have been diagnosed with a mental illness and that I take medication. North American society has come a long way in terms of understanding mental health issues; however, there is still a lot of awareness work to be done. I hate feeling like all that people want from me is to tell them that everything is good, otherwise, I might ruin their day with my negativity and parenting struggles.
Last week, I missed the registration deadline for after school programs at my daughter’s school. I can’t help but feel frustrated and angry with myself. I know that if Natasha were here, I wouldn’t have missed the deadline. I don’t know how single parents do it—there are so many dates and programs to research and keep track of! How can anyone possibly understand why some children have no mother? How is it fair to anyone for a small child to grapple with the concept of death? I feel so, so much anger about my daughter not having a mother. My anger can easily be triggered by strangers who throw their sexism in my face. A couple of days ago, a woman approached me and my daughter and asked, “Babysitting today, are you?” Most people I meet absolutely love the idea of a man standing up and taking care of his daughter, and, if you ask these people about gender equality, they will say, “Yes, of course, I believe men and women are equal and that a man can definitely raise a daughter on his own. Yet, the same person will assume that I am babysitting, not that I am the primary caregiver. Besides, is it called “babysitting” if it’s your own child?
I have to accept that some people will never believe that a man can raise a baby girl on his own. Allowing such a person to trigger my parental insecurities is a sign of weakness—it’s a reminder that I am still not as confident as I’d like to think I am and that my depression still lingers. If I were more confident and mentally stronger, I wouldn’t think, If Natasha were here, I wouldn’t have to deal with as many sexist comments. I would be the cool hands on Dad, instead of the childcare backup. I know it is healthy to feel whatever it is that I am feeling, but depression is tiring. I know that I need to refer to my wellness plan in order to pull out of it, but sometimes fitness, diet, meditation and journaling are difficult and feeling sorry for myself is easier, so I really have to push myself hard.
In the hopes of feeling better, I started running from home to my daughter’s school this week. It is a fantastic way for me to live my wellness plan (the fitness part) and literally be there for Anisha. Today, as soon as I started running, I immediately felt a wave of gratitude. Grateful to live in an amazing city where there are lots parks and running trails. Grateful for the crisp cold air and the bright blazing sun in the middle of ‘winter.’ Vancouver is an expensive, expensive city, but having the city, the mountains and the ocean all jammed together is rare in the world. Plus, how can anyone not be grateful for all of the greenery and amazing people? Multiculturalism is not perfect anywhere in the world, but in Vancouver we come pretty close. Nevertheless, all the running in the world will never change the most important fact; I have no wife and my daughter has no mother.