Despite being a predictable yearly event, Father’s Day tends to sneak up on me every June. As I study the calendar, there’s usually a resounding, “Oh.. that’s THIS WEEK??”, followed by a flurry of preparations to celebrate The Captain’s daddyhood.
I’m happy to put in this effort for him, but in the midst of the gift selection and the search for the perfect card, there is always at least a moment.
A twinge. A pang.
It’s brief, but it’s a soft shadow that lingers a bit before clearing.
For six years now, there’s been one less gift to select, and one less card to buy. After my dad’s death, Father’s Day became yet another day of lost moments in what seems like an endless chain of them.
The sting of the immense hurt has eased slightly with time for me. But for several families that I care about, this will be the first Father’s Day without their dads. And while no one wants to be a member of the Dead Dad club (and there are a LOT of us), if you’ve gone through it, you GET IT.
No matter how old you are, or how “adult” you’re supposed to be, losing your father is a gut-wrenching experience.
Loss can come in many forms, of course. Some people mourn the loss of a relationship with a father they never knew. Some carry hurt from an outright dysfunctional or abusive relationship.
But I’m not talking about those dads- that’s a very different & tragic kind of pain.
I’m talking about the dads like mine, and hopefully like yours. The ones that stuck around and got their hands dirty with real parenting. The ones that worked hard for you and your family, & played harder.
The dad that, despite his human imperfections, made you feel a softness and a laugh in your heart when you thought,
“That’s my dad.”
The dad that people told you that you resembled in so many ways, which always made you happy to hear… because you loved that bond, & you just GOT EACH OTHER.
But for those who were fortunate enough to have a good, healthy relationship with their father, the death of your father is a pain that cannot be articulated.
While the immediate devastation is obvious and acute, it’s in the gradual aftermath that the heart begins to ache, hard.
- Like when life becomes your new normal, you come to realize that you can’t call your father and tell him a corny story only he would appreciate. Life becomes full of days like that, and it’s the reality of how much it hurts that stuns you as the finality begins to set in.
- Or it’s the day when you need him to fill your car’s tire with air, because even though he taught you a million times how to do it, he did it best.
- Or the days you remember how, unlike your mother who seemed to do it all, your dad was the quiet, unsung hero in the background.
- Or the days when you miss the inside stories, the hugs, the sarcasm, the way he taught you to throw a softball, the songs that only you and he seemed to love, the ways that he made you laugh when your mom seemed to be taking life WAY too seriously (though I get it now, moms.)
Days like Father’s Day.
The most surreal experience after losing my father was, in fact, shopping for Father’s Day cards for my husband the first year after my father’s death.
As I browsed the card selection, it hit me like an electric jolt; I would no longer need to purchase a card for my own father. Ever. And I literally lost my breath as the reality of that forever loss hit me, right there in the store.
If you’ve lost your father, then you know. And you know, like I do, that there is no magic formula for “getting over it”. Time helps, but it doesn’t heal the loss seamlessly.
You have the memories of the past with him that can bring comfort, but it’s the loss of the future potential memories that cuts deeply and hits home on days like Father’s Day. It’s the loss of what could have been, in terms of future experiences and moments with you and your own growing family.
If you have that ache from missing your dad this Father’s Day, chances are that you were lucky enough to be raised with a decent father that loved you enough to leave that mark.
Your love for him is still so massive and unfinished and messy in the tangle of emotions that surround a day that was always for him.
And though you’d do anything to buy him the best gift money could buy if you had one more chance, you know in your heart that he’d be just as happy with the old soap-on-a-rope gift.
Because he loved you.
And you just KNEW it, whether he was the type to tell you or not.
So on this Father’s Day, allow yourself to feel the hurt of missing Dad, but don’t get trapped in that place.
Celebrate the fathers that you know that are fighting the good fight, and making memories with their children: your husband, your brother, your friend. While we can’t change the fact that we’ve lost a dad we love, we can help to encourage other dads to be just as meaningful & loved in their own children’s eyes.
© Copyright 2016 Six Pack Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: Six Pack Mom