Daddy’s gone?  Where?

Unlike retailers and children everywhere, I do not look forward to December and I am thankful that it is over.

Although Santa’s arrival is awesome, it’s the departures in December that drag me down. I am not a morbid-glass-half-empty-doomsday type of person, but my optimism and positivity were severely tested by too many sad events last month. The onset of the holidays can trigger many happy memories but also many sad ones (every December 19th, I think about my incredible father-in-law who we lost a few years back).

This December started with a groom, whose wedding I was set to entertain at later this month, then it was Dave, an old high school hockey friend I used to party with, and now it is Mike, a very funny guy I graduated with from broadcast school: guys my age, passing long before their time. While the first two guys had time to say their goodbyes in the final weeks of their lives, my broadcasting friend Mike was killed suddenly in an early morning car accident, on his way to work his radio morning show. Suddenly gone.

Of all the tragic unwritten stories of the people left behind to grieve, including loving partners losing best friends, my heart is torn apart for the kids left behind. Children not quite old enough to realize or are blissfully oblivious to the massive impact that a father’s passing now presents, but I see it: the void.  I know the fishing trips, baseball games, and tickle fights that will be missing the tremendous presence of a father. Other male figures may surely step up and attempt to fill the void, but those are massive shoes to fill.

I see that void fact clearly, and it motivates me to be better now: more involved, more patient, and more present today. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. These past few weeks have taught me that there are no guarantees in this life.  To paraphrase the prophet Garth Brooks, if tomorrow never comes, will my family know EXACTLY how much they mean to me?

Every since these deaths, I think even more about my children and the privilege of being a father. I’m almost waiting for one of them to call me out and say, “What’s up with you lately Dad?  You’re acting weird!”  Bed time stories and cuddles carry increased significance each night, (“Sure, we can read that one more time”). For some reason, I am really bothered by the fact that Mike’s kids drifted off to sleep and woke to a terrible new reality.

Like escaping sand through a clasped hand, what memories of “Dad” will they grasp and cling to?  That last hug?  Favourite books they read together?  Daddy’s talks?  Daddy’s laugh?

What memories would your kids cling to?

Whenever I hear about a heroic police officer or soldier getting killed, I naturally feel sad. When I hear they leave kids behind, that sadness triples. If you, as a parent, were going off to war, what would you say to your kids in case you didn’t make it back? What legacy would they draw on? Samurai warriors, before heading into battle, were said to have a clear head: all of their affairs were in order. They were not going into a battle, half wondering if they had professed their love to family. This clarity of mind gave them an edge over an opponent suddenly carrying regrets and worry over unresolved fences that need mending.

So what is my takeaway from the gloomy Debbie Downer tale? What does it mean for all of us?  Simple.  There are no guarantees in this life.  You are here.  Today is all that matters.  And with an attitude of gratitude, we can try to live today fully, be present inspiring parents, and pray for the families missing key figures this Christmas and consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

Any kid, who had lost a parent, would trade every Christmas present for the next hundred years for another weekend with their departed father or mother, one more adventure, one more talk, hug – one more time.

You have this weekend with your kids. How will you spend your time? If tomorrow doesn’t come, will your children know how their Samurai Dad feels?

Much of the magic in Charles Dickens’ 1843 Classic, “A Christmas Carol”, is that Ebenezer Scrooge gets a ‘do-over’ – a chance to rewrite himself and his legacy.

Live each day as a mini lifetime. Every day you get to wake up and love your family all over again, but better. Make those memories now for them to cling to later!

All the best for the holidays!  Hug your families tight and thanks for your continued Dad Vibe support!  Much appreciated!

January is a time to reassess your priorities.  So I challenge you – a New Year challenge: What will you do differently in 2015 to better show your family exactly what they mean to you? Less time at work? Turn off your phone when you get home? More bedtime stories and hugs?

What would make a difference?  Please add in the comments below…

Together, let’s make 2015 the best year of parenting EVER!