Sunday, June 15, 2014

When Fathers Day Isn’t Happy

Sometimes the ideal set forth by a day of celebration doesn't reflect your personal reality. The picture perfect vision of a Dad who has stood by you from the moment of your birth may not be a part of your experience. In this situation, a day set aside for celebrating fond memories might evoke pain and sadness instead. While those of us who suffer from a particular lack in our lives might find ourselves pondering the what if’s of the ideal, we don’t begrudge those whose experience reflects that which has not been gifted to us.

Fathers Day is one such day for me. I've had two fathers in my life. The first, was a painful reminder that not all marriages are made in heaven. His actions toward my mother, his taking of my little brother, and leaving me behind – all of this shaped my life but (thank God) didn't stunt my ability to love and feel loved. The second father came into my life when I was the daughter of a divorced mother who had been deprived of raising her first son – his father had spirited him away and he was not to be found.

Dad came along and adopted me and all seemed right with the world. My childhood, my five siblings, our family life, and adulthood – they all reflected a seamless adaptation to this family, brought together by mutual love and caring.

All that changed when our mother died at the young age of 58. Although we were all adults (the youngest was 21), we had grown up in a vibrant home filled with love and togetherness. We were the family all other families strove to be – lively, loving, and always actively living life to the fullest. What we didn't realize was that Mom had been the sole catalyst. As my youngest brother describes it, May 4, 1994 was the day Mom and Dad died. It changed our lives forever.

Even as adults we seek the comfort of the familiar. If we’re lucky, our family never loses this quality. For those of us who aren't so fortunate, the pain suffered can be almost debilitating. That’s where I stand on a day like today – Fathers Day 2014. While I relish the father my dearest husband has been to our children and am proud of the fathers our sons have become, the little girl in me longs to recover that which has been lost. 

A father, who walks away from his adult children (and their children and grandchildren) to another family may not produce the same type of damage as if had he acted thus at an earlier time, yet his rejection is still felt painfully and fully by his adult children. To have the same man who gave warm hugs, piggy back rides, and solace in times of tragedy walk away, severing all ties, is to have a hole in your heart – a longing of all of those days gone by. Unlike the holding close to fond memories of a parent who has died, this pain is different. Knowing he exists, however out of reach he may be, is to be tormented by the reality of rejection every day.

Scary face from happier times. <3
Happy Fathers Day, Dad. I’m missing you today and pray you are well. Perhaps someday…