Reflecting on Father's Day

Well, I hoped I would miss it. I told my brain to completely forget the day—to ignore all commercials, sales, and mumbo jumbo that might possibly remind me. Luckily my friends are all sensitive enough to not mention it.

After losing two fathers by the time I was 26, Father's Day holds nothing but pain.

My first father, my biological father, was a complicated man. He was the best and worst of all things. The best dad, the worst dad. The best and worst husband. The most intelligent, and the most ignorant.

My mom divorced him when I was three, after finding out that he repeatedly cheated on her. With men. In reststop bathrooms. In the early 1980s. He was excommunicated from his church—the only thing in his life that really helped him cling to a false reality. I believe, in my heart, that his horrible actions were a result of not being true to himself. I wish, for his sake and for my family's sake, that he had come out of the closet. I think things might have been very different for us all, if he had. But he had too much fear. He lived in a world where everything around him said that he was evil for having these feelings, and he denied this part of himself until he died. He died when I was 14, of complications from HIV. He told me he was sick only 6 months before he died. He never told my younger brother, and to this day I see the anger still in my brother's heart.

I think that I was sad when he died, partly because I was young and was experiencing what death meant, but also in part because I was expected to be sad. There were good and bad things about my bio dad, and that would have been fine if he had lived long enough for us to work those things out, but he didn't, and so I can only look back on our relationship from the perspective of an angry, hurt, and scared adolescent.

My second father, my "heart" father, was the best of men. He was kind, thoughtful, strong. I often referred to him as the epitome of "strong silent" type. He and my mom married when I was ten, and helped me through the death of my bio father. He was my rock. He was the opposite of my bio father in every way. Where my bio dad was selfish, my heart father was concerned with others first. Where my bio dad was thoughtless, my heart father was considerate and thoughtful.

My heart father came to every soccer and volleyball game; he came to every concert. He cried (silently and with much masculine pride, trying to conceal his tears) on my 18th birthday was he and my mom gave me a particularly beautiful gift. He was a man; proud of his children, loving to his wife, and hardworking. I can't think of a time where I didn't see him working. Even on weekends, after he had spent all week traveling, he would work around the house and the yard, making secret passages in the walls (seriously) or raised beds for my mother's garden.

He was a strong man. He had three heart attacks before he was 40, and never once complained. He was a walk-it-off kind of man.

Last year, 2 months before he was to walk me down the aisle, he died of a heart attack. He was 48. There are no words to describe how devastating this was, and still is. Even now, as I write this, tears are streaming down my face. Even though it was been over a year since he died, I still feel it as though it happened yesterday.

When they tell you that time heals, they are wrong. Time merely helps your memory of pain to fade.

I am thankful, though, that his heart attack took him quickly. He did not suffer; we did not have to live hooked up to tubes and monitors. He was at the beach with his best friend, and had spent the weekend doing exactly what he wanted: smoking cigars, fishing, drinking beer. I couldn't have asked for a better way for him to leave us. My family was spared the heartbreak of finding his body, or seeing him in the hospital.

But now I have the heartbreak of knowing he will never see his grandchildren, or celebrate another wedding anniversary, or will never dance with either of his daughters.

My only memories of that day he died, and the haze of days that followed, are the words I screamed when I knew he was dead. Oh my GOD, NO. They haunt me. They will for the rest of my life.

Father's Day is over for me.

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