Father's Day has always been way awkward for me. This year everyone is putting up Facebook photos of their dads and happy stories and I think, man (in a whiny mental voice). I am happy people have great dads. I certainly do have great father figures in Mike's dad, Boppa, and Stephan and I am thankful for that. At the same time, I guess Father's Day is always going to be as bittersweet as Mother's Day. Seriously, I'm thinking about just staying home from church tomorrow to avoid all the to-do.
Anyway, I have a happy post for tomorrow. Autumn and I did something super fun for Mike and I hope it turns out. In the meantime, friends and readers who have dad angst, who have lost children, who have difficult relationships with your children, who long to be dads: I know you are there and I am praying for you this weekend.
Some things I've come across:
Sarah Bessey wrote 'In Which God has asked too much of us' just this week and reading it took my breath away. Beautiful and raw. Can anyone face the sight of a soft baby-blanket carefully laid out on the altar? This is not the end, this is not the end, I am singing over and over through the hot tears and the white anger and my aching longing for mercy for us all, God.
Be sure to take a moment to read the tribute our friend Kenneth O'Shaughnessy wrote for his daughter Kaylee. We knew exactly who you would be, where you would go, and how much we wanted you. What we didn’t know was that you would never arrive. We got to see you once, as through a glass darkly.
Still Standing Magazine has a section on A Father's Grief. I found an article by a dad named Gordon, talking about protecting the memory of his daughter Vivienne. I see echoes of Mike in this one because one of the things we try to do together is maintain Garrett's legacy and make sure his story is one of hope and love. Ultimately, it is up to us and us alone to safeguard her memory and make it possible for others to carry Vivienne in their hearts.
I just ran across this from Thoughts of a Recovering Seminarian. I, um, am really glad to know there's a pastor out there who doesn't want to go to church tomorrow, either. So I reiterate what many said on Mother’s Day, but that so few are saying now: as you celebrate Father’s Day at church on Sunday don’t forget to leave space for grief. Men grieve too, even if they don’t always show it, and you, church, are responsible for helping all people see God in their lives, whether in the joy of life or the tragedy of death.
Finally, a poem I ran across. I know many men who feel the freedom to show their emotions and Mike has been blessed with friends who ask him how he is and know he hurts, too. But, I also know that is not the case for everyone.
To be a man in grief,
Since "men don't cry"
and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.
It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.
They always ask if she's all right
And what she's going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
"My friend, but how are you?"
He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But "stays strong" for her sake.
It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.
Eileen Knight Hagemeister
An addition: You’re Going To Be a Daddy, by Sean Hanish. What I have learned is that I was a daddy on that day in July 2005. And I am a daddy now–a daddy who never met his first son until after he was gone. Yet, that son has left me a precious gift–I lost one life and found a new one, one which I cherish with all of my heart and will for the rest of my life.