Every year this day comes, and every year I am reminded of the pain.
I find myself swallowing away the lump in my throat when I see Father’s Day cards in the store. I feel my stomach drop as I scroll through social media seeing posts of girls praising their dads. I can’t hear “Butterfly Kisses” without fighting back tears.
But every year, I take the chance to celebrate the people who deserve to be celebrated on Father’s Day.
I celebrate my grandpa. My grandpa, who lead by example and showed me what it means for a father to unconditionally love his children.
I celebrate my mom. My mom who, since I was 14, has taken on the role of both parents. She’s been the one to watch football games with me and pretend to be interested. She did twice the work and expected nothing in return.
I celebrate my cousins and uncles. My cousins and uncles, who have been the ones to instill fear into my boyfriend and be my constant protection. They never had to, but they have loved me like their own.
I celebrate my boyfriend. My boyfriend, who has made me believe that I am worthy of love, and that men can stay.
I celebrate the teachers, priests, and fathers of friends. Those men who have been an extra ear to vent to or shoulder to cry on. They probably have no idea of the impact they’ve had.
The hole in my heart won’t go away. I will always want my father. But the pain of the day is eased by those in my life who have patched up that hole and made it smaller.
This day will come and it will go, but the mark they have made is permanent. So to everyone who has banded together to make up Team Father, I celebrate you. “Thank you” will never, ever be enough to express my gratitude for all that you are and all that you do.
If Father’s Day leaves you feeling lonely and reminds you of what you do not have, you are not alone. Remember who and what you do have, and know that “fathers” don’t have to be biological and they don’t have to be men. You’re allowed to celebrate anyone and everyone who has loved you, protected you, and guided you the way a father should. Celebrate these people every day of your life. They are the special ones.