I was dating this girl; her name was Jade. Jade Williams. We hit it off immediately. After dating for about five years, we got engaged and Jade became pregnant. We were so happy. I thought everything was going great but there came life, changing everything.
About seven months after Lia was born, the great life we once knew was gone. Just like that. We had all went to bed like it was any other night. In the morning, I got up and got dressed in comfy clothes and smiled knowing that I'd get to stay with Jade and Lia today because Sunday was my day off. By the time I was dressed, I noticed that Jade still wasn't out of bed. This was a little unusual because Jade was a morning person and was up before me every day. But I brushed it thinking that she tired and wanted to sleep more. I situated Lia with a bottle and began cooking breakfast for Jade and me.
As I kept cooking, I noticed that still there was no sign of Jade, even after calling her about 4 times. I thought to myself that 'she must be really tired' so I decided to be the awesome fiancé I was and bring the breakfast to my love, with Lia in my other hand.
I placed the food on the bed and smiled at her, because even in sleep she was breathtaking. I had always thought it was cute that she smiled in her sleep. I shook her gently and whispered to her that I brought her food. But still, she remained unresponsive. 'Jade?' I said this louder but still, nothing. I repeated this over and over, but she never woke up. I called 911 and they rushed her to the hospital. Not long after, they told me something that I still cry about every other day.
Jade had died in her sleep from (SADS) Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome. She had never had a health issue a day in her life other than a common cold. My and Lia's life changed completely. The woman who held us together, our glue, our support, was gone. And my heart was broken.
Everything I once knew fell apart, but I knew I had to be strong. For Jade and Lia.
One month after Jade’s death, reality hit with how hard it was going to be to raise Lia on my own. Jade and I did the parenting together, but to have to be both the mommy and the daddy, took a huge toll on me. The parents out there who know the struggle, they are the heroes without capes. Being a single parent is a challenge but I’m a Capricorn, and we get things done.
“Open wide Lia, here comes the airplane!” I goofily say this to her even making airplane sounds, but Lia is not impressed. She replies by slapping the spoon of baby food away, which by the way is now on my face. Lia follows up with wailing like she never wailed before. Then to add the icing on an imploding disaster, I smell something unpleasant.
“What’s that smell? Is it daddy? “I smell myself while looking at a now intrigued Lia.
“Is it the garbage?” I go to the garbage, but the smell doesn’t appear.
I go back to Lia where the smell becomes eerily close.
“Oh no, we have a code P, Lia! Poop!”
Lia finally smiled for the first time today. Though under unfortunate circumstances, this warms my heart. I’m getting better at this thing!
After a successful diaper change, I make a warm bottle and carry Lia to her room to rock her to sleep. She fusses a bit and I start to run out of ideas until I remember a lullaby that I heard from a movie once. It doesn’t apply to Lia, but it did make me fall asleep as a kid. Jade used to sing it but changed around the words. And like magic, Lia always drifted to sleep. With that, I position Lia and prepare myself to sing.
“Hush now, my baby, be still love don’t cry
Sleep as you're rocked by my knees,
Sleep and remember my lullaby,
So, I’ll be with you when you dream.”
(This song is from ‘The Prince of Egypt’, great movie. I changed the words a bit for the story. You’re an OG if you’ve watched this movie. One of the best movies ever. Anyways, back to the story)
Just like when Jade sang, Lia drifted into a deep sleep. And for the first time in a couple of weeks, I could relax, for like ten minutes tops. Though little time I’m going to enjoy it.
The next day, I decided to take Lia to the park. We were always in the house, so I thought it'd be good, for both of us. Lia was nine months so obviously, she wouldn't be with other kids. However, she could look around and enjoy the day, it was bright and sunny out today. I was feeling a little self- conscious of the fact that I would be the only father without a wife though. All of my friends had a two-parent home. And as you can expect I wasn’t looking for another woman. Jade had been gone for less than a year now, I could never do that to her. She was gone but my love for her wasn’t.
I had expected so much pity when I joined them. But no, I had forgotten that my friends were my friends for a reason. They never made me feel alone. They praised me for doing raising Lia myself. I told them about how much single parenthood has changed me into a person that I love. We laughed and talked about common struggles, and it felt so nice. I told them about how seeing Lia’s smile always makes the day a thousand times better. She's my little princess and I’ll never let her go, that is until she’s old enough to point out how corny I am. I know some fathers have a bad rep out there but let me be living example that I’m changing that perspective.
Soon after, I thanked my friends for giving Lia and me a relaxing day and wave goodbye. Lia had smiled the whole day and that made me so happy. After strapping Lia in the car seat, I tried talking to her about her day. But when I began, I noticed she was already passed out. Someone had a good day.
A couple of months later, Lia finally turned 1. My baby is growing up so fast. Man, I never knew how much this stuff would make you tear up. My angel even had her first steps, can you believe that! I’m still in awe every time I see her chubby little legs running around. She falls sometimes but she gets back up every time. She’s a fighter, just like her mama.
Lia and I are actually going to visit mama now. “Isn’t that right?” I say looking to Lia. Lia smiles in response and shakes her head yes. She’s a smart one too. She never ceases to amaze me.
“Jade, we both love you so much. I promise to come down here and make sure Lia knows her mama. I tell her about you every single day. And even in the littlest ways, she reminds me so much of you, which makes me love her even more. It’s been hard being just us two, but she always helps me make through the day. I will never forget you. We both won’t. I know we both didn’t expect that she’d lose her mother so fast, but Lia's essence and love make up for it. We miss you very much, darling. But for now, we’ll let you rest. We’ll see you soon.”
I place roses at her gravestone and blew a kiss.
“Lia, wave bye to mama.” Lia smiles and waves, but also says her first words.
“Bye- Bye Mama!”
I turn my head quickly and smile.
“Would you look at that your first words! Can you say dada?”
Lia pauses and mumbles, only being able to say ‘dodo’
“Hmm, closes enough. We’ll work on that later.”
“It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”