Any other day, I would recommend focusing on what is here versus what isn’t. However, on Father’s Day I give myself the space to feel the missing. It’s been twenty-three Father’s Days for this fatherless daughter, which leaves me with an unfillable void. My dad died when I was a slowly developing twenty-seven-year old soul. The phrase, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ has clung to me for decades. I lost a pillar, a part of my foundation and a piece of me. My younger self died on this day, never again to feel the warmth and security of a father’s love.
My dad was modest, kind, hardworking and funny. I search to remember all that I can. As a young adult daughter, I was ill-prepared to mourn this tremendous loss. I kept busy, progressed my life and felt the feelings as they bubbled to the surface. I stayed strong on the exterior, when my interior was sobbing. Shower cries seemed to be the most therapeutic. I’m the youngest of three (by six and eight years) and the only girl, a family positioning (up until this point) was sweet and unchallenging. I took things for granted. My father’s death was shocking and the years to follow were profound in the carving out of my character. This one event rippled through my life in tidal waves of discovery, challenge and change.
In loss, we find out what we had. The unfortunate part is that it’s too late to appreciate. The silver-lining is that we can awaken, learn to live differently through gratitude and grace. A loss isn’t a burden to carry, it’s a change agent, to alter and tweak our development. If we live through it and not cling to it, we grow and level up. We choose carefully the people we surround ourselves with and notice fulfillment they bring. We develop the courage to make the critical cuts, alleviating the heaviness of what doesn’t belong.
I search for nuggets of wisdom in the years I had with my father, something to remember and carry on. Most evident was the way that he treated humans, without judgement or preconceived ideas about them. In the shadow of his death, I realize that he was a common ground finder who loved getting to know people.
I try not to get stuck thinking about the moments that he didn’t or cannot share; our wedding, our children coming into the world ~ all the celebrations and the sorrows. It’s the doubling of joy and the division of pain that only a parent can partake in or soften.
Today I mourn the father that would have been my kid’s grandfather. I’m envious of those families whose grandfathers attend their grandkids games, concerts, school events and long for what my kids will never have. What I wouldn’t give, to hear my dad’s voice supporting from the sidelines or his footstep coming into our home delivering ice cream to our kids, as he did for my brother’s kids every Thursday night.
I miss his dad hands that adorned his black onyx ring and his wrist that held his bulky old man watch. I miss his beautiful cursive handwriting, his waddle when he walked, his hunched back and his joyful chuckle. Today, I deeply miss what could have been.