A bereaved father’s reflection this Father’s Day

Written by Scott McClenaghan

The night before my son Caspar was born I wrote him a letter.

I wrote of all that I wished for him. That he would experience all the things that life promises, love, laughter, happiness, the attainment of his dreams and the strength to live through setbacks, disappointments and sadness, for no life unfolds without them.

I wished him a set of solid values, a decency, humanity, such that he might bring a sense of integrity to all his choices. And forgiveness, for we all make mistakes. Above all I told him that he would grow up knowing that he was incredibly loved.

I promised Caspar that no matter who he was and no matter where his life’s journey took him that I would always be there for him. Life required me to live up to these promises.

Caspar was born with an extremely rare condition that meant the length of his life would be limited.

It was on the 21st day of his life that we were first able to venture out of hospital. We walked a short distance from the hospital to the surrounding parklands.

All I wanted to do was to sit under a tree with Caspar.

Only if I share you with you the receding hope of the previous 21 days, the powerlessness of watching my son overwhelmed by medical intervention while I hoped that love alone might heal him; only in the context of this grief might I begin to illuminate the exquisite beauty of sitting with my son under a tree.

I suspect few other joys will ever approach it.

The intervening time following his birth had changed our expectations so much, that I had not believed we would ever do this together. And here we were, dappled in sunlight, the smell of leaves and grass and moist earth.

It was under this tree that I was reminded of the miracle of Caspar. It was a miracle that he had found his way into this world and it was a miracle that I was sitting under a tree with my son.

I recommitted myself then to treating each day that still lay before us as a day to be celebrated with my little boy just as I had promised him in the letter on the eve of his birth.

I’d promised my son adventures and each day became one for as long as he lived.

Every Father’s Day since Caspar passed away I sit under a tree. I reflect on the moment that I decided that although the dreams I had of his future were drastically altered, I would embrace every day with him.

I have not done anything extraordinary, except to be to Caspar the best possible Dad that I could.

Whatever strength I found, whatever inspiration I drew upon to carry him through his short life and celebrate each successive moment together with him, I found because of Caspar.

And every Father’s Day I sit under a tree and celebrate the father that he made me.

Very Special Kids supports the McClenaghan family through our Bereavement Support Program. To find out more information about the bereavement services we offer to families, click here.