I am surprised that Father’s Day has taken me by surprise. To the day, it has been 6 months since my Dad died. When he died, there were not any flowers in the field or leaves on the trees. I meditated for hours each day on the eastern tree line as he was dying. The clear and sharp silhouettes of the de-foliated trees against the bright blue sky will forever be a marker of his season for me now. Yet when I looked out to our field this evening, the bright green grass and deep purple lupine in bloom reminded me of the Father’s Day 3 years ago when we moved our picnic table into the shade for a Father’s Day barbecue lunch with my family, my brother’s family and my Dad. We were all laughing, enjoying each other’s company, and working hard to make the best of a tough situation.
I miss my Dad every day and think of the gifts, space and teachings that he offered me and our family during his life and his death. Any longing that I have for his presence usually yields quickly to an appreciation and celebration of his life well-lived and shared. Yet, with Father’s Day looming, the vacancy caused by his absence seems harder to fill today. Maybe it is simply the cumulative weight of losing my grandfather in the last 6 months too. My usually fond memories of time with each of them are made bittersweet by the sharp awareness that none of them can be re-lived.
Yet I am also acutely aware that no moment can be re-lived. That is in fact part of the beauty to be enjoyed in each moment. They are all special and unique, not to be repeated or held too tightly, but they make their mark on us and in us.
They will all pass, and they will all live on.
That not so subtle irony is at the root of many Buddhist teachings. I cannot even begin to embrace the meaning of these concepts, but there is something quite delightful in trying to hold both of these slippery concepts in my mind at the same time. They are liberating, messy and giggly if you try to hold them at the same time — like trying to catch minnows with your bare hands.
The reminder of what will live on allows me to also embrace lightly the joy of the fathers who remain with us, making new imprints today. Our boys have five wonderful uncles. Thomas’s Dad, Jim, is a steady, calm, loving, and principled father, grandfather and father-in-law. Thomas is a passionate, devoted and engaged father for our boys. He and I have observed the best in parenting and nudge each other to offer it to our boys every day. I love co-parenting with him!
Our boys are growing up, getting closer to young men every day. Today, I realized that fatherhood could be nearer in the future for them than infancy is in the past. Yipes! Gratefully, I also noticed that I am completely confident that that they will be ready. For all of the things that they may not have received from us, there is everything that they have received.
It will all pass, and it will all live on.
I wish you a Happy Father’s Day, with ample time and space to celebrate and appreciate the fathers who are in your past, those who are in your present, and those who will be in your future. What do they teach you?