My dad died two years ago at 60 years old from a relatively short battle with brain cancer. I was 29 years old and nine weeks pregnant with our first child. I never thought when I was growing up that my dad wouldn’t be around for the birth of my first child or be a grandpa to my children when they were growing up. My dad was invincible, healthy, strong, and active. We were shocked when he was diagnosed with cancer and heartbroken to see the cancer take over his body. We were together as a family when he took his last breath here on earth, and a short two months later we faced our first Father’s Day without him.
I’m not the first person to have their dad die young, nor will I be the last. Many have lost their dad at an even younger age than me and have had to face more milestones without him in their life. I’m also not the only person who doesn’t have a father to celebrate this Father’s Day. Some haven’t had a father in their life at all, others have moms that fill the father role, and many don’t have a relationship with their dad at all. Just because I’m not alone doesn’t mean that Father’s Day isn’t difficult to get through each year.
Enter any store at the end of May and beginning of June and the card sections pops up with bright displays of Father’s Day cards and sections of the stores are arranged to market the perfect Father’s Day gift. You can’t scroll through Facebook or social media on the actual day without being bombarded with tributes to the perfect dad. Anywhere you turn there are families celebrating the special man in their life, but all these things leave me with is a constant reminder that I won’t ever get to celebrate one of the best on Father’s Day ever again. I won’t get to say the words, “I love you” or “Thank you for all you’ve done”. I’ll never get to spend five more minutes holding his hand or asking for advice/help on cars or finances.
My children will never get to experience the knowledge and wisdom of their papa. They will never get to see his adventurous side of white water rafting, zip lining, snorkeling, or just experiencing life the way it was intended to be lived. Instead I’m left with just memories to share and the fact that I don’t have my actual father to celebrate on Father’s Day. Life isn’t fair, and I’ll never know why he was taken from us before we wanted him to leave, but I do know that Father’s Day has taken on new meaning since he’s been gone and I’ve had my own child.
Instead of only celebrating my dad on Father’s Day, now I’m able to celebrate the next greatest dad—my husband. He embodies a lot of what my dad did—patience, kindness, humor and fun. He’s hands-on, loving, and doesn’t let anything get him down. He’s the best example of what a dad should be that I could give my children, and for this I’m grateful.
I’m not going to lie, Father’s Day hasn’t been a fun day for me since I lost my dad, even though I have my husband to celebrate now. It’s hard and brings up many emotions and memories, but every day since I’ve lost my dad has been like that. I miss him every day, and Father’s Day is no different. While the days pass and do get easier, I never forget that he’s no longer with us on earth. The best I can do is remember him–remember his love, remember Father’s Days that we celebrated in the past, remember when I hear our wind chimes on the porch, remember everything about him. I know he’s always with me and will be a presence in my children’s life, even if he can’t be here physically.