“At the moment when my daughter Sophia took her final breath at 10:35 p.m., I felt a sudden surge of energy rush into my body. If you asked me what my reaction would be to watching my child take her last breath, I would’ve said that I’d collapse on the floor next to my wife Natalie, completely devastated, in tears, and struggling for each breath. Instead, I felt strong, and my focus was clear.

My mission and purpose were clear, I needed to take care of my little girl because nobody else could. I called the nurse and the funeral home coordinator. I comforted Natalie, family members, and even cut some of Sophia’s beautiful long hair so we could have something of her with us forever.
When the funeral coordinator arrived, I gently picked Sophia up one last time. I carried her down the stairs to the gurney waiting for her. I made sure she was carefully secure as she was loaded into the van to transport her to the funeral home. Around 2 a.m., I followed that van to the funeral home and helped get Sophia to a safe, private space until I could return in the morning to finalize the paperwork. My strength and focus were completely unexpected, and this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but Sophia needed her Daddy one last time.

It has only been seven months since Sophia died (although in many ways it feels like she’s been gone much longer). I have been to a few grief counseling meetings, but I still have not really grieved from the trauma of watching my beautiful sweet girl die. I have a hard time being vulnerable and letting my emotions out. I don’t know any tricks or mechanisms to help me.

I tend to shy away from facing my grief and focus on other things like Natalie, my other children, and work. Sophia’s birthday was in October, and then the holidays came and went, which was much more difficult than I was prepared for. It feels like pain and sadness are never-ending, and my grief is continuously present. I have never really known depression, anxiety, grief, loss, or deep sadness until now.

I don’t know why I do it, but I write her name in the shower on the glass with a big heart almost every day. Perhaps it’s my way of remembering her with a simple routine and trying to focus on her amazing spirit that I like to believe is still around me every day. I can’t hold or kiss Sophia ever again. That is a pain that is almost unbearable at times.

I am deeply conflicted about losing my sweet Sophia. While the pain of losing her is enormous, it provides me with some comfort to know that she won’t have to endure more pain, surgeries, and life-threatening complications. Selfishly, I want her in my arms right now, just one more, kiss, laugh, and one more giggle. That can’t happen, and learning to live without it is a part of my grieving process.

Sophia demonstrated her warrior-like persona from the minute she was born. She possessed an undaunting fight in her that surprised us. She gave me the strength I needed to help care for her unique medical routine that was complicated and full of uncertainties. Over the years, fear swirled continuously around my mind as Sophia grew older. Her medical conditions took her down a path that made it clear that her time with us on earth was limited. Sophia made it clear to us that what was important in life was not the number of days we are alive, but the love and experiences we share. Sophia was surrounded by unconditional love her entire life, and people who adored her and continuously fought for her well-being.

I like to think that she had a special place in her heart for me and that nobody could make her laugh as I could. Sharing laughter in a lifetime of pain is truly a gift. I miss Sophia every day. She was my shooting star, and I was lucky to be her daddy.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mark Weaver. You can follow his daughter’s #SweetSophia journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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