As it seemingly appeared, things were beginning to take shape with my music career and also the business my wife and I launched. Midnight Shine had just finished our third highly anticipated album and things were looking up. The restaurant business had been in its infancy and still limping along, but the numbers were promising. On both fronts, it looked like our hard work was starting to take hold.
And then the news came.
My wife Judy and I were expecting our fifth child. Great news, yes! But this pregnancy came as a complete surprise to us. We had been trying for years to conceive, with no success. And now it suddenly happened!
The day I found out, my eldest daughter told us she was also expecting another baby. Both my daughter and wife were smiling and crying, feeling emotional about the surreal thought of having babies together. On the other hand, I felt like a ton of bricks hit me. They asked, "Are you OK?" My response was, "I'm going to go for a very long walk," and off I went. That was a lot of baby news for one day, and I'm sure my stunned facial expression said it all.
We were three months into the pregnancy when we realized something was not right.
As a father and grandfather, this meant more layers of responsibilities, and that I was going to have to pull my socks up and work even harder. The thought of two new babies at the same time was daunting, but it was also something I was willing to accept and own up to. It didn't take me long to find my own joy in the situation, and soon I began to welcome the idea of the addition of two new babies to our growing family.
We were three months into the pregnancy when we realized something was not right. We ended up losing our little baby before he even had a chance to be born. I can't begin to describe how devastating it was to see my wife go through a loss of this magnitude. It was truly agonizing. We were both struggling in our own way, and I personally never felt so much sadness in my life.
Judy and I decided to give our little unborn child a name — Tobias Moses Sutherland — and a traditional burial. On the fourth day, I made a tiny coffin and a tiny axe for him. The kids each put something of their own into the coffin, too, along with toys and a small tea set. A rifle was also gifted to him. Even though our little Tobias never made it to this world, we felt he still needed all the basic tools and amenities for the spiritual journey.
It was a very emotional day as I set out with my brother 40 miles north, to one of our hunting camps. It was here we would give Tobias his resting place. I placed him in a large backpack for the trip by snow mobile. It was a dangerous time to travel because the land had only just frozen over, and I could sense fear coming from my brother. But we ignored it. Our mission was too important.
He had arrived through his mother, and now he would go back through his earth mother.
Crossing the Ekwan River along the delta (a large river located 20 miles north of Attawapiskat) my vehicle broke through the ice. Just as I was about to bail, something extraordinary occurred. It was like something lifted the snow mobile out of the water, and landed me and the mobile safely on the ice.
I quickly turned back to look at my brother, and without saying a word to each other about what just happened, we knew a higher power was with us at that moment. I can't explain it, but something reassuring and calming came over me, giving me the strength I needed to keep going.
More from HuffPost Canada:
Finally we arrived and found the burial spot I had thought of. My brother dug three feet down and there we put little Tobias in the earth. He had arrived through his mother, and now he would go back through his earth mother.
When we were done, I started to cry uncontrollably. Hearing my own cries echoing through the woods, I could finally let go of all of the sadness I held inside of me during the past week. Being strong for others is good, but I also know that we — as fathers and husbands — have to let go of our feelings in order for ourselves to heal. Emotions come in different forms, and having a good handle on them leads us to a better place in life.
It has been one full year now since we buried little Tobias. While we were fortunate to welcome our healthy new grandson Ezra into the world this past May, we will never forget the son we lost.
Also on HuffPost: