How Unexpectedly Losing My Father Made Me Want to Have Kids Even More

My dad will never get to be a grandpa, and I’m furious.
Courtesy of Gillian Nigro

My father died unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident on Labor Day. A lot of emotions have been swirling through me since then, but meshed somewhere between my denial and sadness is an overwhelming urge to have children. 

I’ve always thought I’d have kids. One day. After I’d reached a comfortable place in my career, adopted a dog, and bought a house someplace less urban. But my father’s tragic death has made me want to have kids not just at some undetermined time in the future, but soon. Like, ASAP. 

I got engaged a few months ago, and my dad was the first person I called with the good news. (Of course, he already knew: My fiancé had called him earlier that week to ask his “permission,” not because I cared about such antiquated formalities, but because he knew it would mean a lot to my dad.) 

My announcement translated to my father that kids were imminent. “Leann and I want grandbabies,” he said, when we spoke on that happiest of nights. I laughed and brushed him off. “Maybe someday,” I said. 

In every subsequent call since then he would press the issue. “So, Gillian, do you have anything to tell us?” “No, dad,” I’d sigh. “Still not pregnant.”

It pains me to my core to know now that he took my “not yet” as a “never”—a couple days after the accident, my stepmother told me that my dad thought I never wanted to be a mom, that I just wanted to be a “career woman.” My heart was already broken, but hearing that somehow broke it again. I’ll never be able to tell him that it wasn’t true.

When my dad found out that my stepmother’s eldest daughter was pregnant a couple months ago, he was overjoyed. He’d have a grandbaby gosh darnit, even if it wasn’t related to him by blood. I learned after he died that he once wrapped my brother’s cat in a blanket and rocked it in his arms like a baby. “Look, honey, I’m practicing!” he said to his wife. 

Gut. Wrenched.

It’s been two weeks since my dad’s accident, and with each passing day I feel like I’m growing further and further away from him. Creating another life, another piece of him, would be one way of keeping his memory alive and present. But until I’m truly ready, I’ll do that by continuing to tell his story to anyone who will listen. 

The world was robbed on Labor Day of one its most kind, funny, and compassionate members. And my future children were robbed of an incredible grandpa. I’ve never been more certain that I want to have children. The desire to carry on my own legacy is nowhere near as strong as my desire to carry on his. After loss, spreading love and light is sometimes all we can do. 

Gillian Nigro is the social media editor for Parents.com and Paul’s daughter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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