by Tyron’e Bray
My experience as a father has been both enlightening and traumatic.
Noah Lee Bray…
That is the name of my son and I’m proud of him and his journey. My first Father’s Day came days before I lost him, and I think about this often. How ironic? I think to myself, “What if June 20th, 2018 never happened? Who would he be today if he was still here in the flesh?” I can only wonder and never confirm anything. What I do know is that while he was here, he was great! He was love; he was loved beyond calculation and beyond words.
On that fateful morning, he was pronounced stillborn and my world forever changed. Now, I’ve lost people in my life before: my father, all my grandparents, friends, cousins, my nephew, etc. This was different. The difference is that I didn’t feel morally responsible for their well-being. I was stricken by grief, despair, and disappointment. I felt as if I failed him, my wife (Brionna), my family, and even myself. He was supposed to be here…
When I arrived at the hospital, not knowing what to expect after receiving a scary call from Brionna, I told myself to be “open.” No one prepped me for the possibility of your child not living and your significant other being on her deathbed. How could they? Once you become an “expecting parent”, no one wants to even introduce the possibility of death when life is on the way. It crossed my mind, but it was out of the realm of existence in my thoughts.
We lost Noah due to preeclampsia and internal bleeding, which caused DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation). Luckily, with a team of great doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, Brionna survived. We had a 6-day stint in the hospital including 3 days in the ICU, an emergency C-Section, and dozens of medicines being administered to make it through an already near impossible situation. These are some of my weakest moments but also some of my strongest too. I held my son, fresh from Brionna’s womb, and it encompassed eternal joy and misery. I could feel the temporary warmth escape his body because he had already left us. Everything that I wanted was in front of me and yet so far. I felt as if I was robbed of an experience that I was so desperately craving.
Time passes, and I heard myself repeat a phrase that I told myself before all this happening: “Keep an open mind.” I used this to keep going, and like anything else that is difficult, it takes patience and determination to keep moving. I learned what it means to be a father and a human through this experience. This allowed me to look at life and death in a new way. “Life is an experience, and we’re meant to go through all it has to offer.” Noah impacted every aspect of my life and I’m grateful for the time I did have while he was here. The memories of him listening to Frank Ocean with me and his mother will forever make me smile and cry.
So, on this Father’s Day, which will be my third, I will think of him and celebrate my fatherhood. Whether your child is here or in the beyond, you will always be a Father.
Happy Father’s Day