Yesterday I got an email from a friend whose father was hospitalized after a rough bout with cancer and was being sent home with hospice and the decision to stop his brave fight. My heart grieved for her as I read her news. The fact that this was happening on Father's Day was not lost on me-- and I'm sure not on her, but she didn't wallow in that, to her credit. I have another friend whose father has also received a terminal diagnosis. My heart breaks for her as well. And as I thought about these two situations and pondered what it means to celebrate Father's Day, I watched my own kids celebrate their dad. And, of course, I thought about my own dad.
There were no cards for my dad this year. No special lunches or dinners or breakfasts. There was no time spent together at all. No special phone calls to say "I'm thinking of you today." He's wanted it that way for a long time and I, after years wishing it were different, have accepted it. And most days, I'm fine with it. But when Father's Day rolls around, it makes me sad that I don't have a photo of me and my dad to post on Facebook. I can't take my children to his house and let them shower him with hugs and homemade cards.
And so yesterday as I took in my friend's terrible news I wondered, which is worse? Having a dad you adore and facing his loss? Or having a dad who is, by all accounts, healthy but has chosen-- for his own reasons-- to not be part of your life?
I guess both scenarios pretty much suck. There isn't a good answer. Life is hard and messy and it hurts... a lot sometimes. I get on this blog and I say mostly good things. Happy things. Encouraging things. I try to be honest without totally weighing you down. And yet, chances are you're weighed down any way. Chances are you were dealing with your own issues on Father's Day. Maybe because your husband isn't the father for your children you'd hoped. Or he seemed withdrawn from whatever you tried to do for him and you're scared to know why that is. Or, like me, the whole dad issue is just hard-- an emotional landscape that is littered with landmines. Or you're facing the loss of your father... or you've recently lost him. And this Hallmark holiday is one you'd have preferred to just skip altogether.
I don't have a good conclusion to this blog post. I can't wrap it all up in a nice neat bow. I want to tell you that God is a perfect Father and you should look to Him and let His love surround you. Because that is true. We all know that, on one level. Or at least I hope you do. But chances are you, like me, don't really want to hear that right now. Right now you just want to miss someone, or wish something was different, or hold onto someone, or let go of something. Right now you wish they'd never invented Father's Day.
And I guess I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. And to just say, hang in there. And try to find one good thing. For me it was the father I was able to give my own children. I can't see into the future but my gut tells me my girls will never have to write something like this. And that makes me very happy indeed.