For The Kids
"However far away, I will always love you... however long I stay, I will always love you...whatever words I say, I will always love you. I will always love you."
- The Cure. 1989.
On our first Fathers Day without Darcy, I have several gifts for my kids... One is a handmade quilt for each...made with his favourite, unforgettable shirts, curated by me and quilted by a gifted artist. My dream is that the kids will feel his energy there like a warm comforting hug. He was so affectionate with us all and we miss that.
Summer's Memory Quilt
Miller's Memory Quilt
The other is a scrapbook of letters, stories and memories of Darcy which were written by friends, family, film colleagues - everyone who could find it in themselves to contribute. The final product is a book of uncensored anecdotes and photos that collectively capture the essence of who he was....It was created in hopes that, as the kids get older, they will be able to draw on these writings to remember who their Dad was, what it felt like to be with him and loved by him. With no living parents and no biological siblings, we are the final storytellers of Darcy's life and this felt very important to me. I feel so grateful that we captured him while his essence is fresh in our hearts and minds.
It wasn't easy for anyone to sit down and visit with their memories of Darcy and what he meant to them, but SO many people pushed through and did it anyhow. This feels like true support because those who were able to be with their pain and found courage enough to be out of their comfort zone with writing it all down - some two sentences, some two paragraphs, some two or more pages - were showing a willingness to try just the tiniest taste of what the kids and I feel endlessly. We push through with courage every day. We sit with our pain and emotions all day, every day. To have people choose to join us in our pain to create something that will hopefully bring us some joy in the future...well, that feels like love to me. These people were willing to try standing in our shoes, even if only for a heartbeat and that feels like love. What a gift for all of us to feel so held. I know it was a healing experience for the many brave souls who powered through it and if YOU are one of the brave souls who contributed to this project, I love you and am forever grateful to you for feeling into the pain and doing it anyway. xo
Also, I had to write my own letter. In many ways it was as hard for me as telling my kids that their Dad was gone in the first place. It really was. No adrenaline to protect me from the agony of the fact that they no longer have their Dad. Just a boatload of raw emotion and a side of grit. I thought I'd share it with you here...
Miller and Summer,
Father’s Day 2021 marks about 9 months since we were last with Dad. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago but then other times it feels more like yesterday.
Most days I can still hear his laughter and his signature lines, like “oh, come on…” or “come off it…” or “unbelievable…” complete with an eye-roll and that asymmetrical little smirk.
Then, some days it’s hard for me to even picture what his face would feel like in my hands.
Losing someone so close to us has been odd that way. Like going back and forth in a time warp. Remembering…forgetting a little bit…then remembering again.
But there are so many things I will never forget.
The way, every single night from the first night I ever spent with him, no matter what, no matter how tired he was, he ALWAYS pulled back my side of the bedding for me and kinda “prepped” my pillow for me by placing it flat and patting it down into what seemed like the perfect place to rest my head. It was just a little thing but it said SO much. It felt like he was saying to me “I value you. I want you to rest well. You are worthy of being cared for.”
The way his tongue kinda fell out of his mouth, off to the side, when he was focused on something or working hard. Building something, mowing the lawn, attempting to put a ponytail in your hair, Sum…or getting you buckled into action on your bike or snowboard, Miller. (Summer you do a hilarious and touching impression of this little tic. It makes my heart smile.)
The way he always had our next vacation or weekend getaway on his mind! Planning and booking it all with enthusiasm. He was telling us “Life is an adventure.” “Let’s go to new places and do new things.” And I still say, “Yes, let’s.” And I promise you…we will.
The way, every single time I asked him “What do you feel like for dinner?”, his answer was always the same. Without fail. “Something goooooood.” he’d say, quietly with that tiny smile. (Miller you have adopted this and I love it.) Once I asked him. “How come you never have an actual answer for what you want me to cook? You must like or dislike certain things I make…” and his answer was “If you’re making me a meal, I am never going to tell you I don’t like it or set an expectation for what it should be. It’s more than enough that you are making me a meal.” Do you know what this said to me? It said “I value all that you do for our family.” “I don’t have any expectations of you.” “You are enough.” “There are no conditions.”
His perfect, big, beautiful hands. They were everything. He always held my hands in them. When we were driving somewhere or watching TV. Those big beautiful hands always reached out for mine. He was saying “I want you close to me.”
The way he kicked his twenty-year smoking habit to the curb and never looked back on the day we brought you home from the hospital, Miller. He was saying “I am committed to my family and to my good health.” “I will do hard things because you guys are the most important thing in my life.”
The time we were up early to head to New York for a little fun with Mamie (and a little surgery for Miller) and instead of putting us in a cab, a stretch limousine and driver arrived at 7 am to take us to the airport. And he had the best hotel and events booked and planned for us in Manhattan – ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway, an NYC FC game at Yankee Stadium, The MOMA, The Empire State Building, a stormy cruise down the Hudson river to the Statue of Liberty - we did it all! And he didn’t even get to come! He was saying “You have to do hard things sometimes, too. I want make them easier for you.” “I want you to have fun attached to every challenge you navigate.”
The way, when both of you were born, he didn’t really know a lot of songs to sing to babies so he’d sing that old-timey tune “Mr. Sandman” …but he didn’t know the words so he’d just croon “Mr. Sandman, bring me some sand! Bring me some sand cause I need some saaannnnnnd.” Silly. He was saying to you “I’ll do anything to make you smile.”
The time when we were at Gramma’s with all our uncles and aunts and cousins and he couldn’t be there so he pre-ordered us all a gigantic brunch feast of chicken and waffles to make everyone smile. He was saying “Have fun!” “Celebrate being together!” “This is what matters!”
The way he never brought any stress home from work. That guy walked in the door every night as if he was returning from a mini-vacay, refreshed and full of energy for whatever you guys wanted to do! Build a 5942-piece LEGO Bugatti with you Miller?? Sure! Paint your nails for you, Summer? Of course! Do you see what he was saying to you both? “Nothing matters more to me than you do.” “Your joy is my joy.” “There is nowhere I would rather be than here with you.”
That time, on the last day of grade three for Miller, the last day ever at Tecumseh Annex, when he arranged to have the Rocky Point Ice Cream truck parked out front at three o’clock to serve up gourmet cones for all the kids and their families. We sat on the front lawn of the school with our community and laughed and licked and shared a final moment together as a school population. He didn’t get to be there for the fun part – he organized it and paid the bill – that was fun enough for him. He was saying “You are special.” “I want to give you extraordinary experiences.” “You are everything to me.” That was his style.
The fact that, when you guys were babies and he was working his usual 16-hour days and had every reason to head to the pull-out couch for a decent night’s sleep with no interruptions, he never did. Not one night did he ever leave our family bed. He was a part of every late-night feed and all the 2am wake-up calls. He didn’t want to miss a moment of either of YOU. He was simply saying “I am here for you. No matter what.” That is still the truth. I can’t wait until the grief subsides and you can really FEEL his presence again. Maybe differently, but still strongly. No matter what.
It’s ironic that, although he wasn’t a guy who used a lot of words, somehow, we have never had to question how he felt about us. His actions spoke much louder than words ever could. He was always showing us how he felt about us – silently – and he still is. There is evidence of this in the beautiful life he has set up for us…
Not a day went by that I didn’t feel that big, big love he had for us all. It was undeniable. I know you both felt it too. That’s what makes it so hard to live without him and it’s the price we are paying now for being blessed with someone who lived to love us so well. Unconditionally and eternally.
I hope, as you grow up, that you feel it was worth the price. And I hope that, moving forward, you allow yourselves to love and be this loved by others, despite the fact that nothing is certain. Love is worth the risk, you guys. It really is. I wish we had him for way longer than we did… and at the same time, I know that most people don’t get a Dad like yours for even one DAY of their lives. And that would be really hard too.
I know it feels sometimes that we are so far away from him. It is my hope that, in time, you’ll feel like I do. Connected to him. Close to him. Part of him. Always. We are nothing but a heartbeat apart and the connection the four of us have will never go away. We chose each other. All of us.
It started with me and Dad. I chose him because, deep in my soul, I knew with unwavering clarity that – for all the reasons I have written about here and SO many more - he was the exact Dad I wanted for you guys. He was my dream come true, for all of us. I told him that almost every day. And Dad chose me because, although he intended to live a long beautiful life with us, he knew deep in his soul that if something were to happen to him, I would be able to rise up and, along with you both, continue on creating the extraordinary life he dreamed of for us.
And I will. I am. We will. We ARE.
My loves. Every cell in your body was created perfectly and with infinite love. You are everything you need to be. I hope you can feel him in yourself every day. His strength. His grace. His generosity. His humour. All parts of him are a part of us too, and we are truly whole. More whole for having had him in our lives.
Let’s make it our wildest intention to keep him really close to us by living each day with peaceful gratitude in our hearts for all that was, all that is, and all that will be.
We both love you both – wildly - from now ‘til forever.
Til Next Time,
Heal & Be Healed.