My First

This weekend marks my first Father’s Day without one. Though some tiptoe around the subject with me, I’ve discovered I’m rather ambivalent. Father’s Day does not make my pain more or less intense. My loss is there. Today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Grief has neither rhyme nor reason. It grips me in the wee hours of the night, on the drive to work, while weeding in the garden. I was not prepared for its physicality. My equilibrium shifted, and I find myself grappling with my new normal. There is life with Dad and, now, there is life without Dad.

Amidst the churning emotions, I try desperately to hold on to the joy, to my hilarious, happy, crazy memories. The angst of growing up with the quintessential strict father who would not allow his daughter to date before age 16, shorten her parochial school skirts — while attending an all-girl high school — or stay out past midnight. And the comfort of knowing I was loved unconditionally and supported beyond what I could even comprehend.

Grief is not linear. It’s not black and white. It comes and goes, like the tide. And waves of panic—that I won’t remember everything, that my daughters won’t remember their outrageous, spontaneous Papa—snatch my breath away, then slowly recede, leaving my memories intact. I breathe, and remember the stories I will always share with my girls.

As I write this, a notification pops up on my screen informing me that it’s Father’s Day tomorrow. Thanks Apple, but every day is Father’s Day.