Out of all the anniversaries and “firsts” and sucky days that remind me how much has changed now that Gregg’s gone, I’m dreading this one the most. Thomas has this new adorable thing where he scrunches his brow and says, “no fair” in his deep toddler voice. And this is something that is so not fair. They should be able to tell their daddy “happy Father’s Day” and give him all the finger paintings and mugs and crumpled paper ties that they will make throughout their childhood. They shouldn’t have to be reminded that they are missing out on what could have been an amazing relationship, one that could have helped to teach them, comfort them, and strengthen them. And, if nothing else, one that would have helped them feel loved and cherished. This is not fair.
I had friends growing up who had lost their dad. My young lack of social-emotional competence never led me to be sad with them, but I was always sad for them. I recognized that it must have been an earth-shattering tragedy for them. And it is when you lose a parent. Earth shattering and tragic. I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if you’re 30 or 75 or still in the womb when your parent dies. The loss will always be felt.
I recently had the chance to spend time with a very special lady who I have known since childhood. She’s in her 80’s and has lived a full and happy life, and continues to still. But you can still see the pain resonating on her face and in her voice when she talks about her parents, whom she lost decades ago. It’s still right there, right on the cusp of spilling over at any moment. It struck me how amazing it is that one person can experience so much loss and so much pain, yet not break and still somehow be able to feel joy so profoundly. And I wonder if that’s a strength that we’re all born with or if it only sprouts when it’s cultivated by tragedy.
Anyway, I have a half a mind to just opt out of Father’s Day altogether this year. But I won’t. Even though I know my boys wouldn’t know the difference if I did, I want them to be able to know that it’s ok, even though it doesn’t feel ok. But I sure as heck won’t be singing the Father’s Day song in church alongside all the other mothers and wives. There’s only so much I can take, and singing a beautiful song about how important and loved fathers are in front of the whole church would put me right over the edge. I might throw up or punch someone. Or worse, cry. So I’ll just pretend like I’m too busy herding my children. Works every time for getting me out of uncomfortable situations.
I do recognize that Thomas and Luke have a lot of amazing father figures, which I’m very grateful for. And I hope that the hole that they feel as they get older is not quite as empty because of it.