For the past eight years, Father’s Day has been something I dread.
It’s impossible to avoid. It’s there hanging out in commercials. In spam emails. All over social media; in photos of people celebrating and getting lunch with world’s number one Dad.
It’s easy to grow bitter. It’s easy to look at everyone posting about their fathers and want to hate them a little bit. It’s easy to curse at life or timing or whatever you can blame for why your father isn’t still around.
The first year following my dad’s death, I went into pure denial. Out of sight, out of mind.
I pushed aside any sadness and went full tunnel vision on my first boyfriend. It was much more fun to focus on a budding romance instead of the deep grief threatening to swallow me whole. I drowned myself in time with friends, in television, in whatever I could to keep my mind preoccupied.
I barely even remember the day he actually died. It’s blurry. There are bits and pieces. Things I can put together. A general feeling that still sends an immediate lump to my throat.
I never allowed myself to think about it. I never in a million years would have thought I’d write so openly about it.
However, with time, and with my grieving, I saw how therapeutic sharing him would actually be.
Doesn’t mean it came easily. Doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell putting a magnifying glass to my most painful wound. But for me, it opened up something I never could have imagined.
The more I write about my dad, the more I feel him with me.
I’m not a religious person. I’ve never had a hard stance on an afterlife. I don’t necessarily think my dad is watching me. But even after death, my relationship with him continues.
When I tell a stranger about a favorite memory, I’m inviting him back to life for a moment. When I talk about him with my mom, we’re smiling and bringing up details the other might have forgotten.
Nostalgia is not always a bad thing. The past can serve a purpose in the here and now.
Father’s Day is still hard. I still get bitter and angry and cry when I see my Dad’s urn in the corner of my room.
But the most gratifying thing I’ve learned is just how with me he is. He’s in my smile (literally, I have his gap teeth). He’s in my facial structure, in my humor, in my love of pickles and also terrible digestive system. He’s around.
And even though it’s not, and never will be, satisfying in the way actually having him would be, I still count myself lucky to have this wonderful relationship.
I love my dad so much. And I know how much he loved me.
That kind of thing doesn’t disappear just because someone dies. That kind of thing continues for as long as I’m still kicking.