It's Father's Day again. I can't remember how many times I used to forget about it when I was younger, rushing to make you a gift last minute. But since you've been gone this day mocks me with its reminders; I can't look away.
But instead of trying to shut it out, the pain of not having you here on days like this, I want to tell you what I feel and how your parenting still resonates with me to this day.
I feel tired and sad and angry. I'm sad that you're not here; I miss you. I get angry watching other children celebrate with their Dads, and more so with those who complain about having to spend the weekend with their Dads because I would give everything to have you here. I wish I had appreciated moments like these more when you were here, but I know that's not how life works. Mostly though, I feel tired. These emotions exhaust me. I feel like I'm drowning, and these feelings are cement blocks slung around my neck and feet. It's awful. I miss you.
Don't worry though Dad, I'm okay. I'm used to this now and I know how to fight back. You taught me how. I'm sure you never would've imagined me using your advice to help me cope with your death, but I do. You taught me to be strong and to keep my head up, no matter what, because I may have it bad right now, but so does everyone else. Everyone is going through something, and it is no excuse to not keep living. You taught me that while mourning and expressing my emotions is necessary, I shouldn't let them control me or let them affect others around me. You taught me this when your sister died and you kept a steady hand on the wheel in spite of it. The same with when your Mom passed away. You didn't know it then, but just by being the amazing person that you were with strength and fortitude in the face of tragedy, you taught me these things.
So I'm keeping my head up and my smile on, for you. You gave me so much Dad, and I wish I had been granted the opportunity to give it all back to you. I wish I could show you that you did the best job as a parent. You did everything. You worked hard for our family and always loved me. You knew how to discipline me without yelling or hitting. You had this almost magical ability with your words and an overwhelming capacity for empathy and discernment; something that was evident to anyone who had the chance to speak with you.
You always came to my violin recitals and soccer games when you could. You always supported me and asked about me. You wanted to know me and make me better, not just according to what you believed was right, but in alignment with my own personality. You knew how to teach me, how to help me, how to reach me, how to love me. You were the best Dad there has ever been. I miss you.
I keep it with me Dad. All of it. All the things you taught me about life, and all the little things you didn't even know you were doing. For instance, I remember how anytime we went somewhere and someone asked how you were doing, you would always answer with a smile: "Ah, better than I deserve!" Now that, that has stayed with me. It is such a small expression, but so powerful. It reminds me that even if I'm having the worst day, I need to be grateful. Because nothing in this life is deserved, we aren't entitled to any goodness or grace or love; at least not on our own accord. It also reminds to keep smiling and keep my head up, because even when our family was going through the worst things, you never stopped being you. You never stopped smiling and expressing gratitude and love for your life. I want that, Dad; I aspire to be like you.
I wish you were still here because I still need you. I need you to help me through life because it's scary and difficult and confusing. But mostly, I need you here to talk to. I need you here to love me. I need you and I miss you and I love you, Dad.