Can she feel it?

Can she sense what’s happening today?

Does she know it’s supposed to be a celebration?

Can she perceive my sadness that I’m desperately trying to hide just to get through this day?

She’s only three. This is her fourth Father’s Day during her lifetime. She doesn’t remember last year or the traditions we have.

The first Father’s Day of her life was June 19, 2016. I remember the date so well. She was just over 3 months old. We blessed her that day. She looked adorable in her white little dress. She hadn’t started chunking up yet so she was still a scrawny little thing. We even blessed her in the same gown I was blessed in.

Denny was SO proud. He had just gotten out of the hospital a few days before. Those first four months of her life were very scary. Denny’s Crohn’s disease had created so much inflammation that his intestines were blocked off. The stress from that caused a perforation which then caused sepsis. They told me he was going to die when I had a 10 day old baby.

Denny in the hospital 6-16-16

So it was the third time he’d been in and out of the hospital but he got to bless his baby girl. He had wanted kids for forever. He was so good with kids. The favorite uncle. And of course he was the best dad. He loved to hold her and play with her and talk to her and sing to her.


He made up the dumbest songs. All about how poopy, stinky, smelly, and drooly she was. They were obnoxious although I’d give anything to hear him sing them now. He doted on her constantly.

She was surrounded by friends and family that first Father’s Day. All of those who loved her and wanted to come support us. A blessing day is kind of a big deal in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons). It’s kind of on the scale of a baby’s baptism. You bless them in front of the congregation, friends, and family. You ask God for some of the things you hope for in their life. Then you have a little party with food and treats. We had the party at our house.

After her Blessing 6-19-16

The next Father’s Day was more simple. Donuts and bacon and I think we bought him a camping grill. I can’t remember. He was always a much better gift giver than I was. I give practical things. He gives meaningful ones.

Father’s Day 2017
Father’s Day 2017

The third one was with a month old Piper and I was still recovering. We gave him a fun book with pictures of the girls. It sat on his desk at work. Now it’s here in the boxes of his stuff that I still have to go through.

Father’s Day 2018

Now number four. Today will be at his grave.

Saturday afternoon, we went to Hobby Lobby (a craft store). Winnie really wanted to paint rocks to put at his grave so we got some paint. Then Winnie found some cute garden decorations that we can stick into the ground next to his plaque still there in the cemetery. It’ll probably be another month before the stone is placed.

I tried to explain to Winnie what we were doing. I said it was a day for dudes.

“Winnie, it’s daddy’s day tomorrow. But since he’s in heaven we’re going to call it dudes day and celebrate all of our favorite good dudes.”

“Like daddy?”

“Yep! And Thom and David and Opa…”

“And Jesus? He’s a good dude.”

She’s right about that.

After some shopping, we went to purchase and she matter of factly tells the lady, “These are for my daddy’s grave!”

Awkward. Not going to try to explain that during my 60 second interaction with an employee.

If he were here we’d be doing donuts from Daylight Donuts. Or maybe Dunford. He really loved donuts but his favorite was always changing even though he insisted, “It has always been my favorite.” For sure his favorite all-time donut was the Krispy Kreme pumpkin spice one that only comes out every fall.

We’d for sure do a lot of bacon too. I’d get him lots of candy and probably a big time smoker. I always wanted to get him a Traeger. He wanted one so so bad.

Winnie would have colored endless amounts of cards and pictures for him. She also would have found a craft to do for him-like how she wanted to paint rocks. She loves artsy and crafty things.

They would have snuggled up on the couch after church and fallen asleep with a Cubs game on in the background while I took a nap with the baby. Then we would have gone to his family’s Sunday dinner.

Instead, we’re leaving the cutest little painted rocks and some garden decor at a grave. Things you would probably see in my grandma’s cooky old “Secret Garden,” she had in her backyard. We’ll hang out there for a bit then eat some dinner. I kind of want to get as far away from home as I can tomorrow so maybe we’ll go up the canyon. I know for sure there’s no way in Hell I’m going to church.

All of these holidays are so painful. It’s not that I don’t want other people to celebrate. I do. Trust me. I’m so so glad you have your husband or dad around. Please celebrate them. Show them love and appreciation. As much as you can (every day, not just today). But I can’t put myself through the pain of watching 60 children get up to the pulpit and sing about their wonderful fathers. I also can’t bare to have Winnie hand me a drawing she did for daddy after we leave church. It’s not fair to remind her of that.

Someone dropped off a book last night. It was about a little girl who had lost her dad. On Father’s Day, they are making things for their dads in school. I sobbed through reading it on my own. I really thought I was going to be able to keep it together. I didn’t. That’s okay.

In the book, they draw their favorite thing they do with their dad as their little projects. So when I read it to Winnie this morning, I asked her what her favorite thing is that she did with her daddy. She said, “When he frows me up in the error.” Aka when he throws her up in the air. She says error. It’s very cute.

This all absolutely sucks. And hurts. I’m sure we’ll feel him with us all day. But it’s so hard. And that’s okay. Thank you to those who have thought of us today. So many of you have people to celebrate this Father’s Day. And you’re still remembering to reach out to me. That is so so meaningful.

And I’m so happy for those of you that do have someone to celebrate today. Cherish them. Don’t feel bad bragging about how great of a dad your dad or husband is. It’s amazing. And I’m so so happy for you. Just because I’m missing Denny doesn’t mean I can’t be happy for you. And the whole purpose of everything that I’m sharing is so that we keep people around longer.

So to all of you dads who are there for your kids… thank you.

To all of you dads who have struggled with and fought depression and anxiety and suicidal thoughts… thank you. Continue to fight.

To all of you men who have stepped up to help us… thank you. Thank you for filling a little bit of that hole in our lives. Thank you for being protective of us and helping us and just being there. Thank you for throwing Winnie up in the “error,” five hundred times in a row. Thank you.

Pictures during the last month we had with the best daddy ever:

8 thoughts on “Dude’s Day

  1. You are amazing… please keep sharing, you have a gift. You will do so much good from such a tragedy!!! I’m deeply sorry for your loss…

  2. ***Sorry for the long post***Winnie’s video came up on Facebook. I thought by watching the video I would find out why she was crying but didn’t quite understand so then I decided to read the caption. I became even more drawn into my curiosity after reading the caption and decided to click on your blog. Let me just say that I am not much of a reader but I have read everything on here! I am teary eyed reading and even just writing this. I just had to leave a comment to let you know what an AWESOME Mother you are. You’re doing your best for those beautiful girls. As I began to read each post it was so heartbreaking but then as I read the recent posts it became heart warming. You’re still in pain but you’re pushing through and so is Winnie! I am very happy that she is doing much better. I hate that I reminded of how grateful I should be when I read of stories such as these. I should always be grateful and cherish my loved ones. Especially my children and husband. We don’t know each other but um… let me make it a bit awkward and say that I LOVE YOU GUYS! Haha Weird but hey, that’s ok! Lol Those girls are so precious. Thank you so much for sharing! I will keep you guys in my prayers❤️

  3. Thank you for sharing. I work in the mental health field and see every day the impact of depression, anxiety and often sometimes suicide. I love that you are being real and open about this, defying that long standing stigma. May you and your girls continue to find healing.

  4. Prayers for strength..My heart broke for all of you.His smile was beautiful..I use to think suicide was a selfish act after my Nephew took his life in 2013 I felt like how could he leave his family with guilt n pain but then I started following Mr Caringuy and now I think differently.I suffer from anxiety n it’s horrible such a lonely place..I have a fear of dying..Anyway your a beautiful lady n you tell his story with pure love.Thanks for sharing..Paula

  5. Thank you. For sharing your story. For showing the raw, painful and unfiltered side of life post suicide. I am a mum. I have battled depression for over 20 years now. And the last few weeks I have had it in my head how much better off my family would be if I wasn’t here. I have thought about suicide on a daily basis. I have wished I was strong enough to just do it. But your posts, tonight I have read every single one. And maybe my kids are better off with me here. Maybe my husband adores me and would be lost without me. I don’t even know if this makes sense. But thank you. From the bottom of my heart I write this through my tears

  6. I know those “lies” that come to a persons mind in moments of darkness are so believable. I have experienced it myself in moments of deep depression. That “punch” feeling comes to me when I start believing the “lies”. Your mind, your rational is tricked into believing a lie. In my darkest moments having the courage to get out of my bed and go to the medicine cabinet and take an Ativan and fall asleep probably saved my life. I woke up and could face the lies and see them in part for what they were. Anyone on the verge, just find a way to hold on a bit longer until some relief comes. Depression is the silent plague of our generation.

  7. I lost my dad in 2001, under different circumstances, but I know the heartache of this holiday. I know the pain of having to see a headstone instead of the teddybear of a man you want to. I’m sending you and your beautiful girls lots of love and praying for strength for you all. Peace and love from Michigan!

  8. Denny, Dani, Winnie, and Piper,
    You are super heroes. You have and will continue to save lives with the journey you are on. I can’t even begin to tell you how I wish there was another path your family could have taken to do so. I can’t bear to watch the video of Winnie, as I couldn’t get through one blog post without crying. Suicide has always been so hush hush and shameful, and it hurts those who are currently battling against it. Your selflessness and transparency will break this barrier will move mountains for those.
    I personally suffer from bipolar disorder, and I had some severe rough patches during my last pregnancy. I am one of the fortunate ones who will medicate and be compliant with doctor’s orders. I was in a very dark place for a while, and now, because of your candidacy, I have another tool in my arsenal to stay safe and healthy. Thank you so much for helping me, and helping those who need to hear this.

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