Fathers Day Without Dad
Smiling childhood photos with Dad and tributes to him are filling social media as we head into Fathers Day weekend. Yet sometimes the ideal set forth by a day of celebration is not reflected in your personal reality. The picture perfect vision of a Dad, standing 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 find ourselves pondering the what if’s of the ideal, we stop at begrudging the happiness of those whose experience reflects that which was not gifted to us.
Missing Father, Missing Dad
Fathers Day is one such day for me. I have 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) failed to 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 one brother describes it, May 4, 1994 was the day Mom and Dad died. It changed our lives forever.
The Comfort of Family
Even as adults we seek the comfort of the familiar. If we are fortunate, our family never loses this quality. For those of us who are not so fortunate, the pain suffered can be almost debilitating. That is where I stand on a day like today – Fathers Day 2018. 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.
God the Father, however, fills the spiritual void. His promises are always kept and He is our solace in any storm. Only through Him are we made whole again. Yet our human side, longs for the relationships of this earth. I pray for both of my fathers daily and wish them well – one in eternity now and the other just out of reach.
Happy Fathers Day, Dad. I’m missing you today and pray you are well. Perhaps someday…