I wasn’t going to post anything on Father’s Day, but when I read so many lovely posts honouring dads, my heart ached to think he might somehow know the silence of his only daughter. And so I wrote . . . .
Of all the holidays and occasions throughout the year in the last five years that I have been fatherless, Father’s Day has been the hardest.
I left the hospital after saying goodbye and texted my cousin, “I don’t have a dad anymore.” This stark realization shook the bedrock of my entire being. From those six words, my
mortality took center stage [I’m next in line]
security blanket disappeared
identity as “daddy’s little girl” was revoked [I'm still a feminist!]
memories stopped mid-motion
brain scrambled to unearth regrets and disservices
When I finally grasped what it meant to "no longer have a dad," the concept of forever gained new and unfathomable, unpalatable dimensions of meaning. In a flash, I understood the fragility of life in real-time, not conceptually.
For a while, that's the lens through which I viewed the world: Fragility. Instability. Insecurity. Scarcity. Adaptability. I knew what I’ve always known but only now gained three-dimensionality: that One day, maybe tomorrow, maybe far, far away, the world will tilt on its axis again, and I’ll be standing here, again, facing the daunting task of reframing a new set of life-altering changes beyond my control. We all will.
Even as I refocus my lens to adjust, I know that I’ll look back on this time, right here, right now, when I'm doing nothing, sitting cross-legged in this chair, with these dogs, on this day, and I know I will yearn for those days (now THESE days). I’ll remember how perfect things were, how simple and carefree, how trivial my problems were back then (which is NOW).
Right here, right now, this ordinary moment may be the site of future reminiscence.
I know one day in the future, maybe tomorrow, maybe far, far away, I’ll recall how sweet it was to hear these birds chirping, dogs snoring, trees breezing, leaves rustling. I’ll remember this sound of a good man washing dishes in the kitchen.
Maybe tomorrow and maybe one day, far, far away, the memory of a comment made, a smile shared, feelings borne over coffee or iced water will begin to surface, and I’ll bask in the solace of forgetting.
My dad had the foresight to know the transience of all things. He gifted me the ability to see the extraordinary in every moment, and he delivered this gift not from a pulpit nor a high horse but gently, by example, through his appreciation of stillness, reverence towards nature, and cognizance of the passage of time. In dying, he taught me to use consciousness as a coping skill and the present moment as a landing platform upon which to find my bearings and push through the difficult times. It’s a good lesson to leave on, I think.
Two obstacles remain on this journey some may call "grief," and they’ve been here since Day 1:
1) I'm scared to forget. Knee-slapping, breath-catching, near-silent (except the snort) laughter. Irish Spring after a shower. The word "Hon" tickling my ears. The unconditional strength of a father’s hug.
2) My brain won't accept "never again." I know the condolence platitudes. I've used them. When I circle around to test the affect, however, the fact remains: never again breaks my heart.
Memories take Dad’s seat at the table now, this compilation of precious moments that, in retrospect, are snippets of ordinary life. I’ll sit as close as I can to Memories. I'll grab and wrap them up in blue paper with white ribbons, lock them away somehere safe until one day, remembering brings more smiles than tears. That may be tomorrow, next week, or another day far, far away. But it’s not today.
I hope I was the daughter you deserved.
I hope I did well by you.
I hope I made you proud,
that you knew how much I loved you.
I hope my delay won’t suggest I didn’t think of you throughout the day.
Because I did. And then some.
This isn’t a typical Father’s Day wish, more a declaration of how lucky I was to know my dad and be nurtured by him. It is a reminder to view the world through the lens of sanctity because ordinary blips may one day morph into cherished memories. It is proof of the invaluable role a father plays and continues to play posthumously in the unfolding of his daughter’s life.
Today is one day, just like tomorrow, or any other day far, far away, today is one day, no more special than those that came before or those to follow, just another extraordinarily ordinary day and an opportunity to say