This weekend was Father’s Day. I’m sure you knew that already because it was an explosion of dads all over Facebook, commercials, the radio, and everywhere else. As it should be. Fathers are an invaluable part of our society and I so enjoyed being able to celebrate with Toby and the kids… But it was unbelievably hard.
It all started with the cards. I saw those Father’s Day cards arrive at Kroger and I just stood in the aisle and bawled as silently as humanly possible. Sorry to any Kroger-goers that may have noticed, but just the sight of them made me completely lose it. And there between the cards and the aluminum foil, I realized that I’d never give my dad a card again. Ever.
Life moved forward and the weekend of the day itself arrived. I’m going to level with you… I was barely hanging on. How do you celebrate Father’s Day without your father? Even though I was facing not being able to hug my dad and tell him just how much he means to me and all the other things I wanted to say to him for the millionth time, I still couldn’t imagine a life where that was a reality. Toby held me as I cried on Saturday night until I didn’t think there were tears left. When I woke up Sunday, I drove down to Owenton to go to church with my mom. You see, the tradition of Father’s Day was to be down at the lake (in Owenton) with Dad if at all possible. Our lake house was Dad’s favorite place – where he felt most peaceful. Mom (along with my sister and her fiancé) had arrived the night before and I just needed to be with her. So I made the hour drive down as I listened to Simon and Garfunkel, songs about God and nature, and songs about leaving a legacy – my “Daddy” playlist. I cried the entire time and continued to do so through church as I held on to Mom…
After church, I drove back up to NKY to pick up the kids and Toby so that we could all get ready and drive down. I couldn’t get over the strength that my mom embodied. Yes, I lost my dad… and it was a horrible, horrible loss. But Mom was dealing not only with the loss of her husband and the father of her children. She was also carrying the loss of her dad years ago as well as the sorrow of watching her children in pain. Shouldering all of it, she had stood there in church praising God and comforting me. Such strength.
The day went on and we arrived at the lake in the afternoon. I was struggling as it would be my first time there since Dad passed away. I stepped in the door and the reality hit me. It was like what Steve Martin thinks in Father of the Bride when he gives Annie away at the wedding, but the daughter version. It hit me that I was never going to go on a boat ride with Dad again. I was never going to see him in his neon salmon and navy shorts from the 90s. I was never going to hear his laugh or watch him play with the kids. My daddy was never going to be there when I walked through this door. And something inside began to hurt.
I brushed away tears and busied myself with getting the kids ready – bathing suits, sunscreen, towels, etc. And Toby walked outside with them to go down to the lake. All I could do was stand there and miss Dad. I stood there not able to wrap my head around the fact that this was the room in which he took his last breath. My already broken heart was crumbling into a million little pieces when the door opened. In walked Mama.
There it was again – that unbelievable strength. She walked into the room that held all of the things I was drowning in and asked if I was ok. We talked and cried. Those moments of grief and happy remembrance will always be incredibly precious to me. And then she reminded me of a quote that I’ve always loved. She talked about how Harry Potter is so drawn to the Mirror of Erised because it shows him with his parents… then Dumbledore says to him, “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” She reminded me that us living our lives is really what Dad would want. I knew that, of course. I think we all do. But I needed to hear it. I needed to be reminded that life is too short to drown in sadness.
After a few more minutes, she walked back down the hill to the water and I curled up in Dad’s chair. I felt a little bit of peace release in me and I told my dad how much I love him and how deeply I miss him. Then I got up and began collecting the things I needed to take down to the water where the rest of the family was already visiting.
It was time to live. Thank goodness I have such a strong Mama to remind me of that.❤