Today is the first Father’s Day that I haven’t spent hours sifting through cards to find the perfect blend of humour and love. The few pithy sentences that tried inadequately to compress a lifetime of memories and feelings into mere words … and always failed dismally.
Today is the first Father’s Day that I haven’t heard and ignored the “Don’t buy me anything. I have everything that I need already – I have you”.
Today is the first Father’s Day that I haven’t sat for hours over a cup of tea out in the sunshine with dad, and solved the problems of the world. Sharing my mistakes, listening enrapt to stories of his life and heeding his quiet advice born from decades of living life to the absolute fullest.
Today is the first Father’s Day since Dad died!
The past few days has seen me hiding catalogues and muting ads … as if the act of merely putting my fingers in my ears and shouting “lalalala” would make it go away. But it didn’t.
I tried drowning the day in Dopamine-inducing chocolate stupors – but rivers of chocolate cannot drown this ache.
In the place of presents, there is an empty hollow that throbs with the pain of a thousand swallowed razor blades. In the place of the card, there is the memory of his last breaths – where his lungs were too tired to inflate anymore, yet his head bobbed, and mouth opened as softly and gently as a tiny baby bird in a nest calling for his mother. Calling for his way home.
As balm for the stinging sorrow, I recall his stories. His tales of Claude, the lion that used to sneak up on him in the lab and pounce on his ankles like an overgrown kitten. His postcards from far-flung destinations – sharing his joy and amazement in the beauty of the world. And his love for Carol his soul mate and best friend who was waiting for him as he passed.
I remember his core piece of life advice, “Don’t make the same mistakes I made – Make new ones.” His permission to test myself in new paths, new directions … and permission to also fall and fail at times. To always pick myself up and learn from each knock-back – to find the learning and to share the lesson with those who care to listen.
So today, this first Father’s Day since Dad died, I will just sit in the sunshine with my cup of tea and tell myself his stories. I will remember his wisdom and his humour. I will tell the breeze of my mistakes. I will try and put into words what he meant to me (and fail dismally). And I will be ever grateful that he was my father.