This was my first Father's Day without my father. He was in my thoughts all day as he often is, but it was more poignant on this special day. I wanted to talk about him, to reminisce about his life, to keep him alive through stories and anecdotes with anyone who would listen. No one was listening.
At a family gathering, no one mentioned him or how my sister and I might be feeling. It was too uncomfortable for them. It was as if they didn't ask, they wouldn't hurt us, see our pain or deal with the real grieving which continues. Friends and family sidestepped the vulnerability and intimacy instead of risk being drawn into it.
I understand it is hard to watch someone grieve, really I do. For me, it is harder still to just ignore the person who was a huge part of our lives and is no longer present. What a loss...to lose his physical being and all of the memories of him at the same time.
In our culture, once the memorial service is over, we shut down to avoid the pain. This phenomenon always seemed strange to me. Instead of keeping them alive through our memories, we don't talk about them hoping to stop the emotions and ease the pain it might cause in loved ones.
So right here, right now, I am asking those in my life not to spare me. Please, please let's talk about all of the people so near and dear to us that have passed on. If there are tears, laughter, sorrow, anger or joy, let's experience the full range of those emotions together and grow closer through the experience.
At the end of the day, my sweet husband and I sat alone on the porch. He offered up a toast to Joe and Dick, the fathers who we deeply missed on Father's Day. We shared memories, laughed and cried for their lives really did matter.