When a good friend of mine accepted the largely ceremonial duties of becoming the godmother to the son of a close friend, I’m sure her joy greatly outweighed the chances of having to make good on the promise—for real. The birth mother was in her mid-20s at the time, nearly half my friend’s age, so helping raise her little tike likely seemed more like that of a fun surrogate aunt than a serious responsibility.
Four years after my friend accepted this honor, the mother of her godson was pregnant again, this time with twins. Two little brothers for her little man to play with, and another opportunity for my friend to reap the added benefits of once again sharing the joys of this growing family.
Sadly, just 11 days after giving birth to twins, complications from the C-section suddenly took the life of the young mother of three. The loss left a family devastated, a community of friends mystified, and my godmother friend with the mounting tasks of helping her friend’s widow take care of three small children.
As the father of a teenage daughter, I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to raise her on my own. Children have two parents for a reason—because it takes two adults to care for a family, provide for a household and deal with life’s trials and errors. Now this young widowed father is left in a situation where he has to be the sole caregiver, breadwinner, role model and rock. Luckily, he has a godmother like my friend, as well as family, friends and many others in the village it takes to raise our children.
Regardless, I think about how I would react if the same situation were handed to me. This guy’s blessed with a loving wife, a little boy and twins on the way. Life is good. The birth of the twins solidifies the family. It’s the start of a new phase in all of their lives. Then he runs a quick errand to come home and find his young, seemingly healthy wife has suddenly died. Where do you begin to process what has happened and where you go from there?
He’s got a job to do just to support the family. And now he’s saddled with not only his own overwhelming disbelief and grief, but also the ongoing tasks of explaining to a 4-year-old what happened to his mommy while at the same time changing diapers on two newborns who will never know their mother.
Life sometimes has a wicked way of taking people from this world much too soon. When you’re in your teens, 20s and 30s, the chances of dying seem so remote that it may never cross your mind. Thoughts of mortality increase more and more as those your own age, or younger, are taken from this Earth way before their time. I lost two close friends of mine last year, one suddenly and one from a not-so-long-term illness. The losses affected me in a profound way just realizing that my own time could come sooner than later. But one rarely thinks of the pain, grief and responsibilities they’ll leave behind.
Like I mentioned, this newly widowed father has three very young children to take care of. With that many kids, daycare is out of the question and a nanny cost prohibitive. That is, unless our village gets together to help. My friend, and the godmother I mentioned earlier, is throwing a benefit event for this family. All monies raised go directly to the daily care of these three boys. There’ll be three bands and an auction of locally produced art and food by Big River. So please make plans to support “Rock The Babies” from 4 to 11 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Rhythm & Brews.