I’ll never forget the first father’s day after Daddy died. I was twelve years old in grade seven, and several of the girls in the class pulled my teacher aside and asked her if we should even be celebrating father’s day in the class, considering what had happened to my dad. I didn’t want them to change anything for me, but the truth was, listening to other kids talk about their dad’s who were very much alive felt like torture.
As if I could summarize what my dad meant to me in a one-page card on that particular day.
Because all I wanted to do was to scream at the top of my lungs, until they were raw with hurt, for my Daddy to come back. All I wanted was for him to hug me, for his warm arms to be wrapped around my little body. I wanted his comfort, I wanted his protection, I wanted him to surround me in the love that only a father can give his little girl.
The thought of him was so intoxicating that to imagine I could somehow capture what I wanted to say to him on a simple card seemed so minuscule in comparison to the vast space the lack of his presence occupied in my chest.
The night that he died, I was babysitting and watching rescue 911. The women on the show was talking about what it was like to lose her husband, and she said, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” In the moment when she said that, I felt a flutter in my chest. A flutter that was strong enough to pull me off the couch in the living room and into the kitchen to call home.
I wanted to tell my father that I loved him, but the phone was busy.
One block from where I was babysitting, my sister had just watched him come in the front door and collapse to the floor. She was on the phone with 911.
I never did get through on the phone to tell him I loved him, one last time.
That flutter in my heart has since turned from an open bleeding wound into a scar. And although the memories of him are faded and blurred, his presence in my life is stronger than ever.
So to my Daddy on this father’s day, just like all the others, I will miss you and cry for you. My throat will ache for the better part of the day, but there’s something about this year that will be different.
This year, I know without a shadow of doubt that you are with me. I know you never left me. I know you are still here, fully present in spirit. And I can feel your warm arms wrapped around my body every time I close my eyes.
I love you Daddy, I love you.