Father’s Day has come and gone once again, but as the days pass, I find that the holiday is still on my mind. My mom, brothers, and I all took a moment to check in with one another over the phone, saying simple I love yous just to help each other get through the day. These kinds of events (anniversaries, birthdays, and other holidays)–reminders of what I have lost–seem to vacillate between getting under my skin, passing by unnoticed, and leveling me in a pity-party-pool for days. Sometimes when Father’s Day rolls around, I let it drift on by without bothering me; other years, I can’t stand the sight of so many hallmark cards and sappy commercials highlighting the best Father’s Day gifts, and choose to cower inside my house all day.
This year, I was lucky enough to spend Father’s Day in the company of one of my dearest and oldest friends. My buddy, Kristian, and I went to high school together in Tucson, and have remained close while our lives have connected us both to the Pacific Northwest. While hosting him in Seattle this week, I’ve been reminded of lots of fun memories from a much simpler, easier time of my life. Like all those who knew my father, and who knew me when my father was still alive, I hold Kristian very dear to my heart. Just reminiscing about a conversation Kristian had with my dad over their shared love of Jeeps in my driveway one day during high school brought me enough happiness to last a few weeks.
It hurts so much to realize that now, eight and a half long years since my father passed away, so many of the important people in my life will never know my father and who I was when he was still alive. Though I can certainly share his memory with all the people I meet in the future, I feel a special bond with those loved ones who were lucky enough to spend time with my father. It has been bittersweet to catch up with Kristian, as both of us realize how much we have changed in light of our hardships and growth as adults. We are lucky to have known each other as teenagers, and luckier still to come to a place of mutual respect and admiration as adults.
Over the last few days, Kristian and I have eaten our way through the city, checked out a few baseball games, walked the Andy Warhol exhibit at SAM, and spent a lot of time laughing over stories from our high school days. Yet, I can’t help but sink into a little bit of sadness thinking about the kind of girl I was back then—I possessed an innocence, a carefree attitude that I know I’ll never get back. I am so completely different from who I was then, and I sort of miss the girl I was when my father was still alive.
Father’s Day often finds a way to rub in my face the absence of my dad and the reminder of just how much emptier my life is without him. Of course I am grateful for the maturity and growth I’ve achieved as a grown woman, but it’s impossible not to feel a little wistful thinking back to the ease of my life back in my high school days, feeling now so far removed from that time in my life.
Again, I think that the only way to pass painful holidays and events such as this is to spend them in the company of good people—people we love. Having Kristian here to distract me with fun activities and lots of amazing food has been good medicine for me. And yesterday, when Kristian suggested to me that we honor my father’s love of being cheap by smuggling our own inexpensive, store-bought snacks into the baseball stadium rather than pay $10 for a bottle of water, I knew that I truly was in good company. After all, being with friends who know how wonderful it can be to honor my father’s memory in such quirky ways really can heal almost anything.