Thinking back, I realize now that much of my behavior in the early hours after finding out that our daughter was dead, was the result of my need to stay in control. Throughout my life, I had come to believe that staying in control of situations and my life represented strength and the path to success.
I believed that staying focused on school work and doing my best would mean that I got into a good college, and eventually landed a job that made me good money and earned me the respect of my family and peers. To a large extent, I still believe that to be true. What I did not realize at the time, was that there were situations in life I could not control.
Even though I seemed to be living the American dream by doing well in school, graduating from a good college, starting my own business, marrying my high school sweetheart, buying a home, and starting a family after 5 years of marriage -- I could not stop my daughter from dying.
There was no preparing me for facing that reality. When I found out that our baby was dead, life as I knew it began to unravel. My first thought was that my "secrets" had finally caught up with me. Maybe the college partying had taken more of a toll than I realized. Maybe God was punishing me for thoughts that I had had or lies I had told.
When the guilt set in, I tried all that much harder to control what I could. I would not allow myself to cry -- therefore I avoided situations that might make me cry. I hurried along our time alone with Kathleen because I feared the longer I was with her, the harder it would be to say goodbye. I chose to let the hospital handle her remains, because I could not fathom going to her funeral. I didn't want to have a lot of family around at the hospital because I didn't want them to see me so vulnerable.
In other words, I was out of control. When the feelings of fear and sadness blended together, my behavior made it seem like I cared much less than I did. I think it's for this reason that I always point out to moms that they need to be careful not to judge their partner's feelings by their behavior. The old, "you can't judge a book by it's cover," adage rings real true in circumstances like these -- especially for men.
The really hard part is -- sometimes we don't even know why we are reacting the way we are. We are just following our instincts on a path we've never traveled before.