This will be my first Father’s Day without my father. I’m not sure how it will feel tomorrow when the actual day happens. Right now it just feels like Father’s Day is tomorrow. I dont have dread. I’m sure tomorrow will bring some emotion though. Just writing about him still brings tears.
In the recent past Fathers Days have been about my husband really. I would prepare the day around him and sometimes his dad if we made a visit to see them or if I had my in-laws for dinner.
My dad lived far away in Florida. So we often weren’t together on Fathers Day. So I usually would send him a card or small gift and then call him. We would chat for a bit and then go on with our day. My dad didn’t like a lot of emotional declarations and he hated goodbyes.
We did have a Fathers Day at the beach during a reunion weekend maybe six years ago now. I loved that day because we were all together- my brother and his family and my dad. I loved that the kids got him little gifts. I can’t recall now what they were.
For the life of me I can’t recall a Fathers Day from when I was young. Though I’m sure we celebrated. Maybe we just left my dad alone on those days. Gave him time to himself. He would have liked that.
I miss my dad a lot. The initial sting of grief has abated mostly. I get those times where it really dawns on me that he’s gone and I get that gut punch. I say “dammit dad your really freaking gone!” Then the pain fades.
I still can’t listen to his voicemails saved to my cellphone -some from his last days. The rawness of the loss is still under the skin. I feel it as I write this.
I still have boxes of pictures and some clothing items to deal with. They stay hidden in my storage room. Eventually I will know when I will be able to handle looking through those things. I don’t know when it will be but I do know it’s not now.
Navigating through the grief of parental loss is different from other losses I’ve had. It’s more profound or deep.
Losing my grandmother was the first loss I had years ago. She was my best friend. And I miss her still. That loss was my most profound until I lost my dad and that felt like someone ripped a part of me off. It hurt physically as have other losses but this was so much more painful. My body just hurt. Part of that was because my dads death was sudden. I had no time to prepare my mind that he was leaving. It just happened. Poof. I told you he didn’t like goodbyes.
That’s the part that still gets me. The suddenness. A huge presence here and then gone. Like the air being sucked out of the room. The emptiness and feeling of being abandoned was something I hadn’t expected. But he and my mother are people I have never not known. So the loss of that is really like losing a part of yourself. And it hurts for a while.
But the grief has ebbed. I miss my dad. We had a complicated relationship. At times we were mad at eachother. Or at times one of us was mad at the other. Seemingly we were very different but really a lot alike. But I didnt see it until he was gone.
I know we were in a good place when he died and for that I’m grateful. But I sure wish I could chat with him. There aren’t too many people like my dad and maybe that’s good. He was one of a kind. He made people laugh and he made people cry. He was far from perfect. But he was my dad and I loved him.
So tomorrow Fathers Day will be about my husband – he already got his gift – a gas grill for our beach cottage- but it will also be about our dads. Kevins and mine. This is Kevin’s second Fathers Day without his dad.
So we will go to the cemetery where “part” of my dad is buried next to his second wife. I have some of his remains here at home in Maryland -they are to be spread somewhere but I don’t know where yet -another thing I’m not ready to deal with.
After the cemetery we will go to the assisted living home where my mother-in-law lives. She has my father-in-laws remains in an urn next to her bed. Those will be buried with her when she leaves us. They were together for 68 years – but really they will be together forever.
We will spend some time visiting with my mother-in-law. Some relatives that Kevin hasn’t met before are making a trek to see my mother-in-law- we hope to catch them during their visit.
It’s important to honor those who are gone but it will be good to embrace the family who are alive. I think that will take the sting out of the day for me.
For my husband -he doesn’t have huge expectations that my teens will do anything for him. A hug is good enough for him. I love that about him. If we are lucky maybe we can get everyone in the same room for a meal. One to honor the dads we have known and the ones still here. The ones we miss and the ones we can still hug.
I think it will be a day of mixed emotions as so many days are.
Happy Fathers Day to all the dads reading this and many blessings to those who have lost their dads.