Sunday, June 14, 2015

Father's Day 2014: The Day My Own Father Passed

At the age of 17, I lost my father to a heart attack. Four days later, all dads were celebrated on Father’s Day. When you don’t have a dad, Father’s Day is like your deceased father’s birthday or day of death: a day on which you realize more than ever that there is something missing in your life, and you won’t get it back. For me, today, it’s both Father’s Day and the day I remember losing him, as it was exactly 9 years ago this moment. June 14 will always be Father’s Day. It reminds me that I have a past, present and future, but my dad is only part of one of them. As a fatherless child, every Father’s Day will be dominated by a series of thoughts that are the opposite of a celebration.

The memories of Father’s Day past
Memories of Father’s Day past are bittersweet, because I would love to make new ones. For the last decade, however, I have been unable to add to my book of Father’s Day memories. Instead, I revisit the old ones annually. The last decade I committed to finding a man who will one day replace my father. Since then, the masculine void had to be filled in different ways. After I lost my own, my CaliDad George gave me foot rubs and advice, and at least made it feel like I still had one. And once I got to uni I always had my male sidekick in the shape of Silvio or Conor, never making me realize I don’t have that male presence in my life everybody else does. I was never able to replace my father, but I found people worth celebrating. On Father’s Day, however, I remember my own dad, and celebrate I was once able to celebrate him. The overwhelming memory today, however, is being told that “he didn’t make it” on this day in the past, changing my whole life.

The Reality of Father’s Day Present
Father’s Day reminds me that my father has no idea who I turned out to become. Would he like what I achieved and what I have become? I will never know. The reality of not having a father on Father’s day is harsher than on other days. I won’t be driving home this Sunday and I won’t be having dinner with my old man. I don’t have anyone to celebrate, so I won’t be enjoying some family time as everyone else. With social media being ablaze of people sharing their favorite #DadSelfie, people without a dad can’t help to be jealous. This is one trend us orphans can’t take part in. I would love to share a photo of my dad. But even more so than that, I would love to know what my dad would actually look like in that picture. The present is now telling me that I almost spent a decade without my dad. At the same time, the present would no doubt never in a million years look the way it does if June 14, 2006 had gone differently. So in the end, my sister and I have decided we’re thankful rather than bitter today.

The Hope of Father’s Day Future
My dad was a big presence in my life, but he will never be a presence again, neither now or later. The only thing that remains of him is the memory. As a result, Father’s Day reminds us fatherless children how we will not be walked down the aisle or congratulated at graduation by the men who raised us. The next time I will have a father in my life, it will be the father of my children. The possibility of one day celebrating Father’s Day again offers hope that, eventually, this nostalgic holiday will cease to be a cry fest or sentimental parade. In the future I will hopefully have a father to celebrate, it just won’t be my own. On June 14, 2016, I have a pretty big fish to swallow as that day I will have been fatherless for a decade, and each year it gets more surreal. By the time I’m 34 (when most people still have their dads) I will have spent more time without one than with one. Let’s hope that the universe found me a substitute until then…

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