My Father’s Eyes

fathers-eyesMy four year old daughter has the most beautiful eyes. You know those steely grey, almost translucent eyes that babies are born with before their eyes change colors? My daughter’s eyes stayed that color. For months I waited for them to brown up, like my husband’s eyes, or perhaps turn a darker blue or hazel, like mine. But over four years later, when I look at her, I still see these deep, soulful, captivatingly grey eyes. My father’s eyes.

My father passed away from cancer two years before my first child was born. When he died I was devastated, not only for the tremendous pain I felt from losing this amazing man, but for all those future moments I realized we’d never share together. All those conversations we had about how much he was looking forward to being a grandfather and taking my children boating and fishing, all those family photos I’d envisioned of him holding his grand kids, all those times I pictured my children getting to experience just how truly wonderful my father was. Those times were gone. They’d never happen. My children would never know my father. Part of the grieving process is accepting that all those happy future moments you’d planned on having would never come to be.

When my father died, everyone always told me he’d find ways to let me know he was still with me. While I wasn’t sure if I entirely believed that, I still looked. I looked for messages, signs, anything. I found nothing. I felt nothing.

Then my daughter was born. Giving birth is a wonderful experience. It is also an extremely emotional time. Despite my joy, I still felt a profound sense of sadness that my father couldn’t share that moment with me. He never got see my baby bump, he wasn’t pacing around the waiting room during my labor, and I don’t have a picture of him holding my newborn baby girl. Still, when I saw my daughter in the delivery room, something in me felt different.

As the weeks went by and my daughter’s physical features began to become more defined, I couldn’t help but notice her eyes. They looked so much like my father’s… They were an unmistakable bright grey. An eye color so distinct and unique that I actually hadn’t seen anyone with eyes that color since my father had died. Having read all the articles on baby eye color I was absolutely aware that while most babies are born with blueish/grey eyes, my daughter’s eyes would begin changing color soon. After all, neither my husband nor I have grey eyes. I convinced myself that in my desperation to find some connection between my father and my daughter that I was grasping at ridiculous possibilities, and that my daughter’s eyes would change color soon enough.

But they didn’t.

Four and a half years later, my daughter still has those remarkable, bright grey eyes. Sometimes it takes my breath away just to look at her. It’s like I’m looking at my father again. And it isn’t just the eyes. The similarities between my father and my daughter go much deeper than that. Out of all of my relatives, myself included, none of us share more personality traits with my father than my daughter. At the age of four, she has an unyielding obsession with rules and organization. When I hear her say the word “no” I swear I’m listening to my dad; it’s the same inflection, tone, and two syllable annunciation. And my daughter isn’t the only one who gets up in the middle of a conversation and goes to bed without saying good night because she decided she was tired. The similarities between these two people that never met are shocking and comforting all at the same time.

I don’t have to look for my father anymore… I get to see him every day.

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About This Blogger

Jen Gehring

When she’s not managing political campaigns or teaching law classes, Jen Gehring enjoys spending time with her family, including her two young children. A fashionista and recovering-perfectionist, this busy working mom uses her precious seconds of free time to run, sip wine, and escape into reality television. She’s been a freelance writer for the last five years.