To my kids, Elsie and Graeme,
Before you were born, there was a short-lived dating app called “How About We” You would post a date idea and if someone was interested in your idea, they could press “intrigued.” My idea was to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the MET, and grab a drink after. A man I knew nothing about hit “intrigued,” and we set it up. But on my way to meet him, I noticed it was beautiful out, so I asked him if we could enjoy the weather and walk in Central Park instead. He agreed. We still met up on the steps of the MET. When he first saw me, he looked at me and smiled. Then, we strolled through the park and talked for hours. That is how I met your father.
Three months later, he told me he wanted to marry me.
Fast forward to March of 2020 and we were a happy family of four. Elsie and Graeme, you were two years old and four months old, respectively. Your dad loved being your father. He fell into that role right away. Graeme: he loved feeding you the bottle while holding you or getting on his tummy and making you laugh. Elsie: he brought you to school every day. He would take a selfie with you and send it to me because he knew I loved getting pictures of the two of you. All the time, he bragged about both of you, showing his colleagues pictures of you two.
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Often, he would always ask me, “How are our kids so amazing?”
He adored both of you.
At the time, your dad worked in a hospital as a speech pathologist. That’s where we believe he caught COVID, a viral illness that is rapidly spreading across the world. Only 44 years old with no pre-existing conditions, he started feeling symptoms on March 22, 2020. On April 29, 2020 he went into cardiac arrest and died. It was a complete shock to everyone.
The last 11 months have been extremely tough for our family. Elsie: you have understood a little bit about what’s going on, but Graeme, right now, you are just too young. I am sure we will have many conversations about this past year throughout your lives, but there are several lessons and messages I want you to carry with you for the rest of your life. So, I want to share them with you while my memory is fresh and my emotions are raw.
When your dad died, my life instantly changed. Everything is on me now – the decisions, the financial pressures and all the responsibilities of being a parent. Your dad used to say, it’s good that we have two kids because we have man-to-man coverage, meaning one of us could always be with one of you. Now, I don’t have a teammate. But throughout the last 11 months, I have figured out how to do bedtime and bathtime by myself. In August, I went back to work and each morning, I can get both of you ready and to daycare on time. I am proud of how I have been able to figure out everyday life on my own.
This past year I definitely got knocked down, but it also showed me how strong I am. Even on my most difficult days, I could get back on my feet and do what I needed to do for both of you.
I want you to know that there are challenges in life and you decide how you face each challenge. Even in situations that seem impossible to overcome, you can be strong and you can do it.
When your father caught COVID, it was just the beginning of this global pandemic. Unfortunately, I felt as though people, in general, weren’t taking the virus seriously enough. Also, I felt as though there weren’t enough people talking about healthcare workers’ deaths and their impact on young families. So, I became an advocate, raising awareness about the dangers of COVID while also bringing attention to its effect on young children who have lost a parent. I have shared our story over and over and over. I have reached out to other widows to let them know they are not alone. Also, I started a Facebook group to create a community where widows can support each other.
I want you to know throughout your life when you see something is not right, you can speak up and your voice can make a change.
As for your dad, I realize that you won’t have a lot of your memories of him, but he couldn’t wait to play catch in the backyard with you. He was excited to help both of you discover your passions. He wanted to sign you up for dance or sports to see if any of those activities interest you. Without putting any pressure on you, he wanted you to try different activities, so you can discover who and what you want to be.
I want you to know that while your dad won’t be here for dance recitals, soccer games, or graduation ceremonies your father loved you and all he wanted for your future is for you to be happy. ,
Lastly, I want you to know that while I am heartbroken that your father and I can’t have the future we hoped for when we met on the steps at the MET nearly eight years ago, love is more powerful than death. And even though dad is not physically here, he will always live in our hearts.
I don’t know how old you will be when you finally read this but I know whenever it is and wherever we are, we will be OK.
I love you,