Sometimes Father’s Day sucks.
There have been some years where it kind of sneaks by…maybe it causes a couple of quick pauses, then that’s all. Other years, it comes on like a slow tide with a crazy strong undercurrent, and you see it coming from miles away but suddenly you’re upside down and that’s all you can think about.
Don’t worry, this wasn’t one of those years for me. It’s hard to wallow when you spend the day watching Jesus Christ Superman almost die for our sins and then watch some (rather upsetting) basketball with good friends.
Not to say it was all smiles, because Facebook’s a tricky one. In some ways, social media has changed holidays from something intimate with close friends and family into something to be broadcast with everybody you’ve ever known (and a fair number of people you don’t know). So yesterday I was scrolling through all the pictures, memories and open letters from my friends, and I could feel that tide start coming in. I could have stopped, but sometimes an emotional release is a pretty powerful thing. I kept scrolling, and the tide kept rising.
But then something unexpected happened: I noticed a surprising number of heavy, thoughtful posts about loved ones lost too early, relationships that have grown apart, some hints of wondering how things might have ended up differently, and I realized this isn’t a story of how a few of us have it rough and it’s all sunshine and rainbows for everybody else. In retrospect that’s an embarrassingly obvious thought, but in the moment it was powerful and tremendously restorative, like some massive gathering where everybody takes turns telling stories, listening thoughtfully and sitting together in shared silence.
I kept thinking about all this today, wading slowly and holding my own against the tide that hadn’t quite receded yet. Then I capped the day off with racquetball, and I’m being completely honest when I say that one of the few things that beats an hour of therapy is running around in a giant concrete box and pounding the life out of a little rubber ball. I left there accompanied by another stop-and-stare dusk sky (the sunset’s had a good run lately), then came home to an empty house and some much needed introvert time. It doesn’t even matter that the air conditioning’s busted and sweat’s pasting my back to my chair right now, because there’s a fullness and a stillness in this moment that I’m appreciating.
So happy belated Father’s Day to all of you dads, and to all of you who stepped into the role of a dad when you saw the need. And to those of you who come face-to-face with loss every year when this day comes around, I promise you’re not alone. Find somebody to reminisce and tell stories with…or maybe just go on Facebook.
(This turned more serious than I intended. Something light next time, I promise.)