Father’s Day fifteen months after Bob died. This has been an odd day. My daughter is just (late afternoon) getting home from a conference that she and her family attended. My son is at his home with his family. I wished the Dads in both families a happy Father’s Day by text early in the afternoon. Texting seems cold, but it works. My son-in-law is deaf, so a phone call is not an option. My son, I suspected, was feeling low and would not want to talk; a text respected that. I did not wish my daughter anything because she is not a father. She and my son no longer having their father to celebrate the day with has been the elephant in the room.
Daughter is exhausted from the trip and the conference and has headed off for a nap. Son is home with his family and a neat new mug and orange icing rolls. Me, I have been home alone most of the day. Like I said, it has been an odd day. I am sitting here feeling sad because my children hurt and feeling not so sad because it feels like Bob is released from another year’s struggle. I am not totally sure why I feel that way. In part it is because I am reading Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul by Stephen Jenkinson. (I highly recommend the book.) A couple of hours ago I read this from Jenkinson, “I am sure this is why, year after year, more people seem to die in late winter, before April obliges them to rise up one more time.” Bob died in March. Was he tired? Was life for him something that he did not want to be “obliged to rise up [for] one more time”? I have little evidence of that, but it feels right. Bob did seem tired. What better way of finishing in this world than leaving suddenly? No period of being an invalid, of hurting, of losing your dignity, of losing your independence, of watching your family struggle with caring for you. To me it seems like a good way to go.
That way of leaving, though, does carry some responsibilities. If you leave suddenly you don’t have the opportunity to tell people what they mean to you, to say good bye, and to do whatever last things you want to do. The responsibility then becomes to do all of that while you are alive. It has become clearer to me that I need to tell my children often that I love them, that I am proud of them, that they are amazing parents. And the more mundane, like what to do with my “stuff” and what I want after I die. I need to do the same for my friends. And I need to do what it is that I want to do now, because I don’t know about tomorrow.
This day that used to be a time when we all got together and celebrated together has different lessons this year. Don’t wait. Love loudly and regularly. Play and laugh often. Take care of business. Create memories. Don’t wait for occasions. And lots and lots of hugs. I hope I am a good student.