fatherless on fathers day

To My Fellow 孤, The Sons Without Fathers on Father’s Day

It is a day to remember, but for me, it is also a day to cry.

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A little over five years ago now, on February second of 2013 (Groundhog Day), I woke up to the raucous and confusion that was filling my Father's house in Elkton, Virginia. My grandfather knocked on the door and said that there was something wrong with my Dad. The paramedics were in his room administering CPR and that things looked pretty bad. Not very long after this... my Father was pronounced to be officially deceased. My Dad was dead.

His death was just another deep cut to go with the other losses that I experienced in only the span of three years, but his cut was definitely the deepest.

This caused a lot of changes in my life. I was now fatherless at only sixteen years old. My role model, my best friend, was gone. Gone forever. And I knew that once he was gone, I could never get him back. It was then that my depression began to grow rapidly, coming to full fruition my freshmen year of college. It is a battle I fight to this day.

At first, I felt nothing. I was numb. Then, I actually felt some form of relief. You see, my Dad had not been happy in quite awhile. In just a year or so prior to his death, my sister -- his daughter...his first-born nonetheless, passed away. This devastated him, as well as me and my brother. I felt a sense of relief in knowing that he was out of pain. He could finally escape the personal, solitary hell that he was trapped in here on earth.

His birthday, Christmas, and Father's day were each filled with dread and sadness. Losing him caused me to run away from what would remind me of him, including an entire half of my family for over a year (time that I will never get back), but I could never get away. Every time I look in the mirror, I see him looking back. Now, you must understand, I have never wanted to forget my Father, but at the time the pain was so great that I could only try and calm it by running away.

I would dream of him. Of him and I. And every time I would wake up, I would start grieving from step one, all over again.

Over time, I have healed, though I will never be whole again. Not how I was. Not how I would be if he had died when he was supposed to. I am better these days, but I still do hurt.

In just a matter of days, we will celebrate a holiday that is for father's and all that they are, do and mean to us. Before my Dad's passing, Father's day always used to be a fun day. One that we could seize together and have adventures. Now, it is a day of remembrance...and some tears. I often wonder if others who have lost their fathers in this way, far too soon, feel the same.

To all of my fellow sons out there who have the great fortune of being with their fathers this coming holiday, please do me a favor: Make the day special. Make it spectacular. Give your Dad a hug and tell him you love him. You never know just how special it is...until he is gone.

To my fellow sons whose fathers are no longer here. I am with you, and I feel your pain. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved. Your Father will always be with you.

Never forget it. Happy (almost) Father's Day.

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Dear Softball

Thank you softball.

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Dear Softball,

I fell in love with you when I was just three years old, and honestly I've never looked back. Had you told my three-year-old self that I'd still be playing at 21 years old however, I'm not sure that I would ever have believed you. Growing up in the small town of Delhi, playing baseball with the boys was what I lived for. I'd spend countless hours in my backyard throwing and hitting by myself just so I could keep up with the boys on the field. It was when I switched to softball however, my life truly changed. You have made the past 18 years extremely difficult to say the least, but these years have shaped my life and truly made me who I am today.

My parents have made so many sacrifices because of you. I have never met two people who are more hard-working than they are. They have spent countless hours, working overtime, continuously saving up, just to allow me to follow my hopes and dreams. Because of you, softball, my relationship with my parents is so strong, and we have countless memories that we will never forget. You helped my parents to not only be my number one fans on the field, but also in life, and for that I am beyond grateful. You have brought me the greatest support system I could have ever asked for.

There have been so many moments I have missed out on throughout the duration of high school and college because of you. I've missed family reunions and dinners, weddings, concerts, and events, but at the end of the day you have given me more opportunities than most could ever dream of. There were times I dreaded going to practice with you because it meant I missed out on some pretty cool things with my friends. You also forced me to leave events early quite often because I would have to be up early for a game the next day. Looking back on it all now, I wouldn't trade any of my time spent with you for the world.

So many doors were opened because of you. So many laughs, so many tears, so many friendships, so many opportunities. You've given me the opportunities to play for so many different teams and organizations: Delhi, WBS Twins, Brantford Bobcats, Mississauga Tigers, Vaughan Vikings, Toronto Fastpitch, Bytown Belles, Whitby Eagles, to name just a few. You have given me the opportunity to not only represent my hometown, but my province with Team Ontario, and my country with Team Canada as well. This was my biggest dream come true.

Finally, you opened a door for a college education and scholarship to play you at the highest level. Specifically speaking, my college career with you has been the most difficult four years of my life, but it has been incredibly worth it. There are moments where I sit back and wonder if playing you was really worth all of the blood, sweat, hard work and tears, but holding up the horizon league trophy this year made that evidently clear; you were worth it, without a doubt. You allowed for me to experience something most people don't; an NCAA regional. Working hard beside 20 girls has taught me to believe in something and work for something much bigger than myself. You have taught me to be a great teammate, to set a good example, and to always lead with my heart in absolutely everything I do; this is something I will carry with me in life. With opening the door to college, you have allowed me to discover myself and what I want in life. So for these specific things and so so many more, I thank you.

Thank you for never failing to be my stress relief from school. Thank you for never ever failing to be a fresh breath in world full of chaos. Thank you for being one of the main reasons that my family is so close. Thank you for teaching me to work hard. Thank you for giving me some of the greatest role models in life. Thank you for teaching me that it's okay to fail sometimes. Thank you for introducing me some of my best friends. Thank you for allowing me to represent my town, my school, my province and my country. Thank you for loving me, even on the days where I hated and wanted to give up on you. Thank you for allowing me to discover who I truly am. Thank you giving me some of the greatest memories. Thank you for allowing 18 years of dedication to end in a win. Thank you for allowing me to hang up my cleats with a ring on my finger. Thank you for placing the people in my life that have built me into who I am today. Thank you for changing my life. Thank you, softball, for everything.

Yours Truly,

Courtney Gilbert

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My Life Has Not Been The Same Since I Met My Father

He showed me angels, and told me I could put my weapons down because I've got protectors.

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I rang in 2019 with sexual sin and instead of being convicted, I felt condemnation (see previous blog post). This, coupled with isolation and watching my fellow seniors have future plans while I didn't have any for post-undergrad, caused me to be in a dark place from January to the first week of April. I honestly didn't want to live anymore, convinced there was no point to my life. Three months, 1 week, and 3 days later, I went on my first A Life Retreat from April 11th to the 14th.

We arrived at the retreat site on the 11th at night so I was just expectant for the next day, but I was trying not to be excited because I didn't want to be brokenhearted if Jesus passed me by. On the 12th, during the last session for the day, many of my peers were getting delivered. I was praying for their deliverance while hoping for my encounter with Christ. However, something shifted in me and I became jealous. I remember thinking I wish I had some demons in me so that God will finally pay me some attention (we could unpack another day so this post isn't 5 pages long). I began to doubt God, I stopped praying and was looking around with a cynical smile on my face.

After the leadership team dismissed us, I went to sit down, angry and dejected. Someone asked me if I was okay. I lied, answering yes. Another person asked me; I lied again. A third person asked, and I finally told the truth saying, "no, but it's whatever". She asked if she could pray for me and I said, "you can do what you want but it's not going to change anything". I reasoned, if God won't show up for me when I prayed for myself, why would He show up when someone else does. With persistence, she began to pray for me, but I wasn't paying attention. I was just thinking she will be done soon and go her way.

She didn't end quickly so I began hearing the words of her prayer. She was saying, "God loves you." I was chuckling, thinking yeah, right. As she continued to pray those sweet words over me, telling me what God was saying and thinking about me, I began to speak out loud what was in mind, telling her that she was lying. After some back and forth, some A Life leaders came over and began to pray for me and after a good fight, deliverance took place. I became free from the stronghold of the spirit of doubt.

The next day, I was hypersensitive to the voice of God. At the beginning of the first session, I heard Him tell me to put my shield down and what I saw behind it was incredible. I had detached a part of myself that was much younger than the current me and I would transfer all the blame of my past onto her. Everything I hated about myself I put on her (this younger version of me). God told me I was supposed to unite with her, but I didn't want to. I told myself I was shielding her to protect her, but actually, I was trying to hide her in order to hate myself less or to avoid judgment. I couldn't move forward until we became one. After another deliverance session in which I was able to forgive myself and reconcile all parts of me, I felt empty, but in a good way. While on break for the day, I remember thanking God for freeing me and asking Him to fill me back up.

Throughout the last session on the 13th, He showed up and showed out for His little girl. I saw multiple visions of how much God loves me. I don't really have an intimate relationship with my natural father so what happened that night was pivotal in my life.

In my first vision, while I was praising and worshipping Him, God told me to rest my head on His shoulder while He told me how much He loves me.

Then He told me to lay my head on his lap and at this point, I'm crying because He's also telling me how He feels about me and how beautiful I am.

He showed me angels, multitudes, and told me I could put my weapons away because I've got protectors and defenders.

He told me that they had always been there even when I could not see them and He did all this while hugging me.

There was so much more that God told me and showed me, but I'm focusing on these few because it tackled the daddy issues and brother issues I had.

My life has literally not been the same ever since April 13th, 2019. I don't even know how to put into words how my life has been, how I have felt, how much love I have in my life. I just want everyone else in the world to feel what I feel, to know what I know, to encounter WHO I encountered. I also want to thank the A Life leadership team. Just in case any of you are reading this, "thank you. I can only imagine the amount of time you had to spend in your secret place with The Most High so that you were able to war for me, and the other A Lifers with Him in the open. May our Father replenish and reward you for being dedicated to people to see them saved and FREE. I love you all."

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