I was fortunate to have my father for 17 years. It has now been 19 years past that. The most interesting thing about this holiday is that my birthday follows it. In essence, I was my father’s present. How awesome is that?
For the 19 celebrations since his departure, there are some years that are harder than others. There are some years where I can drum up memories and smile, and not cry at all. Then there are years, like these, by which someone whom I know has, too, become a part of the Fatherless Tribe.
There is no explaining to a small child or a teenager such as I was, why their father is dead. Whether by weapons of war, medicine, or man, there are few things that ease it. There are fewer things that make it all make sense.
The troubling thing for those of us whom have walked along this path for some time, is the memory, memories and their preservation.
As you age, certain things get forgotten about, replaced and are harder to recall. Parental memories are some of the most precious created, and are the hardest to replace. I have been without my father for almost two decades.
At the realization of it? I wept.
I wept because this chasm created by time and space cannot be repaired. What has said, has been meant. What was offensive is now unforgiveable. What is unsaid is now silent. In that silence, you have to remind yourself to keep living.
There are people, with great care, who put their social media-ascribed holiday imagery up, whom randomly text you after outings with their living fathers to ask, “How are you?” And more often than not, you lie to get off the phone or don’t answer.
There have been twenty summers almost since I lost my father. Twenty. There are births and birthdays he has missed, along with the mundane that comes along with this life–phone calls, hugs and visits. There are days where something will happen and I will know exactly what he would say. And I laugh so hard my body shakes.
Then there are days, where I fight to remember his voice. Where I have to remember his birthday. New, more pertinent facts have taken place of the spaces that align to his memory.
These are the days, going towards these holidays in those years where I feel like a bad daughter. Where I think that I need to forget the little things to remember the big things…like his voice.
I’m not that 17 year old girl anymore.
But if I could talk to her, I would tell her this-
“Death is one of the few definers of this life. Do not let it consume you. Although he is not here, you are the evidence that he did live. You shall not die as he did. Your life is stretched before you.
Give weight and wait to the days ahead, Jennifer. They will require your strength and discernment. From that, you will learn what it is to be the daughter you will need to become. Being able to grieve does not make you less strong.”
My advice, my wisdom, my love to the #FatherlessTribe this Father’s Day is this:
Do not wall out the world, but remain a part of it. Remember self-care is all that is required of those that love you.
To honor is a form of love as well. There is no greater honor than love.
The day is to honor your Father, whether he be bound my earth and stone or in his favorite chair or a ballgame. The day is not to forget you have a father, but to celebrate him.
Allow yourself the privilege of celebrating or even not celebrating. You are allowed to remember him. It is okay for your memory to be jogged with company and pictures.
Celebrate him. Love him. Make new memories to secure the old ones.
Few things are solved by forgetting.
*Follow @theladyofharris on Twitter and use #FatherlessTribe if you are celebrating Father’s Day without your father/father figure. Offer advice, comfort and encouragement. Thank you. JBHarris.