The Essay is a daily personal story submitted by a reader. Got one to tell? Check out the guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.
My wife and I lost our five-year-old daughter last year in a car-related accident.
I was the first person on Earth to see her, standing there in the birthing room waiting to announce the sex of our child to my labouring wife for the first time.
Seeing the look on my wife’s face when this brand-new little girl was placed on her chest. I'll never forget that moment.
Like most little girls, our daughter loved to be a princess. She loved putting on her pink dress and twirling around. I loved playing the role of Prince Charming; I could have done that all day long.
She was a chatty-Cathy. We could be on an hour-long car ride and she could fill the entire ride with non-stop conversation. The conversation wouldn’t necessarily need to be with my wife or me – she could get along just fine talking to her stuffed animals.
She loved music – on the Sunday before we lost her, I videotaped her running around the house dancing to that Black Eyed Peas song everyone loves. She was full of life, trying to “lose me” while I chased her. The act culminated in a wonderful dance with her stuffed purple monkey that I now watch repeatedly.
Now, I stand over her gravesite every day and tell her that I'll love her for eternity, as I told her many times before she died.
Before I leave, I usually wait for a gust of wind to pass to make me feel like she is hugging me. It's interesting how your mind will allow you to turn an opportune gust into a hug from your Princess.
Thinking back to the day when we lost her, all that I remember is receiving a call and then dropping to my knees, greenside on the eighth hole of the golf course, and having my playing partner drive me to the hospital.
I remember walking into the trauma room and seeing my wife covered in blood. I'm sure now that she already knew what I was about to discover.
I had to look into the eyes of my baby: Her eyes would tell the tale, as they had done for me so many times before. I looked and I saw emptiness and lifelessness. At that moment, while a team of doctors and nurses were working on her, I knew that we had lost her.
As you can imagine, the reasons why this could possibly have happened have run through my mind a million times. What lesson was I supposed to learn from this?
Now, I lie still in the cemetery and read, or listen to the birds in the oak tree above my daughter’s grave and the cardinals calling to one another from tree to tree. Things that I would never have taken the time to care about or watch in the past.
Was I supposed to learn how to stop being a workaholic and how to take in the simpler things in life?
Was I supposed to learn how to be on my own? My wife and I have since separated (there were issues prior to our loss) and coming home to an empty house is so uncomforting to me.
Looking in our daughter’s room doesn’t help matters. I haven’t touched very much there; I still haven't even put away that last load of her laundry I did several months ago.
Is this supposed to help me grow in some way?
On the other hand, does this have absolutely nothing to do with me, and is it just happenstance?
Is this just a random occurrence and a situation where you just have to play the hand you’re dealt?
Is all the advice that everyone has been giving me just bunk?
No one will ever truly know. But I can tell you that the personal learning has been huge.
My wife and I got married on the day after Toronto lost the 2008 Olympic bid to Beijing, and the headline on The Globe that morning was “Mao would be proud.”
We often called my Grandmother “Ma” so when I quickly glanced at the headline on the paper that morning, I thought it read “Ma would be proud.”
As I lie here next to my little girl, I see two tombstones – one straight in front of me and one to my left with the Chinese surname “Ma” in large letters at the top.
The universe has a funny way of letting you know that those important to you are still thinking of you.
Part of me really hopes there is some place where my beautiful little girl is dancing and chatting away with my wonderful grandmother and that she is surrounded by her, always. I know that my grandmother would take good care of her.
I was the last person to see our baby, as I crawled into the back of the hearse to open her casket, place my eulogy between her two little hands and give her one final kiss. I don’t know how I found the strength to close that casket. I'll never forget that moment.
Fathers, do me a favour – this weekend, give your daughters an extra hug for me and let them know how much you love them.
In a cruel twist of fate, this Father's Day marks the one-year anniversary of her passing.
I'll spend the day with her, lying next to her – waiting for many huge gusts of wind.
I love you, pumpkin pie.
Raj Sharma lives in Toronto.