With each passing year, I learn more about the truth of my grief.
We grieve forever. As our love for what is lost goes on, so does our grief. We think we’re over the hardest parts, but it only takes one day and we come undone again. It moves in cycles.
With Father’s Day approaching, I feel my grief show up again.
The greeting card aisle sets it off. I walk past it and feel my chest tighten. Deep feelings rise up in my heart as I think back on all the times I’ve been here before and remember how I could never find the right card.
“Dad, you’ve always been there for me.”
“To the first man who loved me.”
“My Dad, my hero.”
We hadn’t had the relationship I’d hoped for, but he was my Dad. The only one I ever had. If I loved my Dad, why did this feel so hard?
My heart knew the answer, but my head didn’t. Those words didn’t fit our story.
Every year I stood in that aisle searching almost desperately for a card, or a version of our relationship, that didn’t exist. Open it, close it. Try another one. I’d leave those aisles exhausted, void of all emotional energy, with some generic sentiment in tow.
It’s likely I’ll never find a card that says what I want to say or the questions I want to ask.
“How could you keep leaving us?”
“Why was it so hard for you to stay?”
“How come I wasn’t enough?”
My Little Girl
I tell my mind to stop.
I think of my daughter. The muscles in my chest release and relax. The wondering subsides and I come back to the present moment.
It’s likely I’ll never receive the answers.
If the only truth I need is my own, do I really need those questions anymore?
I have the power to live my life and love my family, abiding by my own definitions and terms.
A New Perspective
My grief has circled round once more, but this lap felt different. I feel a subtle shift from the loss to what I might have yet still to find. I’ve stopped only seeing the loss. I feel curious about other parts of the story I’ve not yet explored.
I decide it’s time to start thinking about the little girl in the story, seeing her first.