This is the Father’s Day that we almost didn’t have.
Had things gone dramatically different on Thanksgiving — as they very nearly did — this Father’s Day would have been the latest hurdle in a sad series of firsts.
It would have been the beginning of a lifetime of fatherless Father’s Days — which are the only kind I’ve known for the past 32 years.
Perhaps that’s the reason I’m having trouble writing the obligatory Facebook sentiment wishing The Husband a Happy Father’s Day. The emotions are too familiar, too close to the surface. It’s impossible to articulate in the face of the losses that did happen this year and challenges we continue to struggle with this new normal and our ever-present pasts. They don’t make Hallmark cards for this kind of Father’s Day, which can be my lazy excuse (this year) for not buying one.
Instead, I look for the perfect photo, the best quote and I come up empty-handed until I find these words that I wrote for Father’s Day 2011. Words that still ring true five years later. More than ever, actually, if that’s possible. And it is, because while this was written in the midst of much uncertainly and change, it was also written before.
Before losing everything we’d worked two decades for.
Before The Cancer.
Before going places on this parenting journey one never imagines when you first hold that newborn.
Before everything changed.
Before we knew now what we didn’t know then.
Here, then, an abbreviated version of “Father’s Day 2011: The Here and The Now”:
“I didn’t think I needed to write a Father’s Day post to The Husband. I really didn’t plan on it, to be honest. But then, you know, post after glowing post started showing up in my Google Reader – tributes to all the wonderful dads out there, guys who are the type of dads that The Husband is. Friends and family members are writing Hallmark card worthy status updates on Facebook whereas I’m … sitting here thinking, I’m really such a shit for not doing one of my own.
Because it’s not like The Husband doesn’t know how I feel, for God’s sakes. Obviously, he knows that I think he is a great Dad and a wonderful husband, yada yada yada, so it doesn’t really matter.
But see, here’s the thing: it kinda sorta does.
For reasons I don’t really want to go into on the blog and Facebook, it matters especially so this year. After being together for literally half your life, you fall into these sorts of silent, oh,he/she-knows-how-I-feel patterns, despite the irony of the minister at your wedding deliberately changing up your vows and scrapping the to have’s and to holds with phrases like “you’ll remember the big things like your anniversary, but it’s the little day to day things like saying, you matter to me that is the hard stuff.”
You take for granted that things like the laundry will always be done every Sunday of your life, like it has been in mine for 23 years. (Yes. Twenty-three YEARS my husband has been doing my laundry. Top that, girlfriends.)
You take for granted things like being able to count on your husband to run out to Walgreens for a gallon of milk, or take the boy for a haircut, or to pick up the kids when you’re running late, or to remember the sunscreen and apply it better than you, or to take them to the park when you’ve got a migraine kicking your ass for the third day in a row.
And these are just the little things. We’re not even going to get into the big deal, lifelong, no-cure-or-end-in-sight things.
Like parenting a child with autism, for example.
Like being a hands-on, 24/7 dad when you’re living with chronic pain for more than a decade.
You take these big and little things for granted until they’re not there anymore – or, in our case, not there as much.
One of my faults is that I tend to focus on anything but the here and the now.
I procrastinate. (Hence, the no Father’s Day card or gift.)
I fixate a bit too much on the past. I don’t always live in the moment.
(I’m working on that.)
And when you live with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you’re not grounded in the present and you miss saying what needs to be said.
Which, for this Father’s Day for The Husband, goes something like this:
You’re an even better father than I ever imagined you would be, in circumstances that we never imagined would be.
Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, you’re needed more than you know.
And you’re loved more than you can possibly imagine.
Happy Father’s Day.