My One Job

Over the years, stories birthed in a family become somewhat legend. There are some stories that are unpacked during holidays or when a certain person comes to visit. Then there are those go-to stories that we retell over and over because they bring smiles and/or grimaces. So it is with My One Job.

As the story goes, I had one job during each of my wife’s four deliveries: to get her to the hospital in time for an epidural. No problem with the first – her water broke and we loaded up the car and made it. Number two came quickly. In fact, I almost delivered her in the van. We were at the hospital for less than twenty minutes before she burst onto the scene. I was one for two with my one job. Due to that experience, we scheduled number three and had no issues. Then we were surprised with a fourth pregnancy and although doctors scheduled her birthday for a Monday, she decided she Sunday would be a better day to join the family.

I remember sitting by her bed when the doctor delivered the news that she was too far along for an epidural – the look of pain and anger on my wife’s face as she looked up at me and said, “You had one job!”

I am 2 for 4 with my one job.

A career at .500 gets you into the hall of fame if your a major–leaguer.

A weatherman would love to get it right 50% of the time.

When you’re the epidural chauffeur, 2 for 4 isn’t so good.

All Girls


As fathers, our job is multi-faceted. We teach, prepare, equip, support, mend, share, and if we are lucky, we get to watch them grow up and flourish. If I had to pick one job that is principle, I would say it is to protect. When they were tiny newborns I was terrified of them. They were so small and my hands so big and clumsy. How was I supposed to keep these fragile beings safe from the scary world when in a few years of marriage I had already broken most of my wife’s china?

Being protector is an important job. It ranges from driving the family car in a safe manner to putting a filter on the internet so filth can’t get to them; from watching their surroundings on the playground to checking the deadbolts every night.

I failed in this too.

When our youngest was twelve, knee pain drove us to the emergency room where we received a cancer diagnosis. We fought. For ten months we fought with every bit of courage and strength we could muster. We even found some joy along the way. But it wasn’t enough. Kylie died just weeks from her thirteenth birthday and mashed alongside all the pain and grief is this annoying feeling that I am a failure in my principle job as a father. I had one job.

My love for Kylie began the moment I heard the flutter of her heartbeat, saw her shape on a sonogram, and held her tiny hand. I didn’t choose to love her with a clause that everything would always turn out okay. In this fallen world, that assurance was never in my control. As we get older, we learn that very little is actually in our control. My rational mind knows this but my heart often whispers accusations.


Some of you reading this likely hold some similar feelings. There are many men who have experienced child loss and even more people who have lost their father. Loss is loss and Father’s Day acts as a huge magnifying glass to it. This year will be my fifth without Kylie and it will be difficult.

On Sunday, while I can’t escape the feeling of guilt over my job performance, as much as is possible I will work to let that be overwhelmed by the love we shared for twelve years. I will also share the joy of fatherhood with my remaining children and attempt to prevent my grief from sullying that celebration. They deserve that much. I deserve that much.



If Sunday will bring with it some measure of grief, I would encourage you focus on the love that you had and that which remains. And remember…  you aren’t alone. We’ll get through it together.

Three is not Enough

While we sat together at dinner we were introduced to a nice, older lady. When the girls’ names and ages were given, she seemed somewhat overwhelmed.

“No boys?” She asked.

If I had a nickel… I shook my head, “Nope, all girls.”

“Three girls! Wow. You’re a good man.”

Picking up my fork, I thought that line of questioning would end and we could move on to other gentilities, or perhaps our salads. But it didn’t stop.

“Just stopped at three, huh? Three was enough? Didn’t try again.”

And just like that, simple words became broken shards of glass thrown against the soft flesh of my soul.

No, three is not enough. We have four daughters.

I saw my wife’s eyes well up immediately and I felt the heat of my own reddening face. When confronted with this awkward scenario, I’ve found I must make a quick judgment call. Most often I find it necessary to say her name – to politely plead her existence and memory. Kylie would be fifteen… Other times, I survey the situation and decide the correction would only embarrass the person to whom I am speaking. After all, she didn’t know any better. She didn’t know that I have a daughter who has died.

I let it pass.

I looked at the three daughters before me and thought of the one who is gone. I am a better man for all four. Going into fatherhood, I had no idea what the experience would give me. I assumed that I would be the teacher; and yet, I am most often the student. Each little nugget has given me unique treasures. I see beauty, root for the underdog, admire individuality, cherish time, and I value experience in wholly new ways thanks to them. My children have taught me more than I could ever teach them. If I could impart any wisdom on them it would merely be a condensed version of what I have learned in their company over the past twenty-one years.

But this begs a question: Am I a better man for having lost one of them?

It seems a preposterous proposition, but it is a question I ask myself. It is also one of my favorite questions to pose to other dads who have lost a child. Understand that when we meet, we grieving fathers are way past pleasantries from the outset. We almost always jump right to real, meaty conversation because of our shared experience. The answers vary – some say yes, some say no. Some ponder and ask me for my thoughts, but the question never fails to spawn meaningful dialog.

I have had a long time to consider the question. While simply being a father has taught me much, Kylie’s life and death have radically changed me.

I now know that love ranks above all else whereas money, status, and the things that men covet are basically meaningless.

I understand that the people in my life are meant to be treasured and that every experience has value all its own.

Where once I sought conformity, I now seek to celebrate uniqueness in myself and others.

I have come to respect things that are true and genuine regardless of how they make me feel.

I believe my faith was somewhat rote before, but now it is messy and something I must fight for every day.

I have learned the power of the moment – the simple joy of presence in the company of friends and family.


So yes, because of the things I have learned through this horrific experience, I believe I am a better man. The cost was far too high, however. I would rather have remained a shallow, worth-less human and have Kylie here. But I was not given that choice.


Life is a series of undulations: some are relatively minor and the swells of others destroy everything. From each, we learn more about ourselves and about riding the waves so we can be better in the future. As a father, I sink, flounder, and gasp for air daily – my daughters will tell you that. I haven’t the power to calm the sea around me; I can only seek to use the lessons of the storm to be a better man or drown trying.

This much I know: Three is not enough. I miss my baby girl.

I am the father of four.