Updated: Mar 14
It’s Saturday night. Vienna is sound asleep and Lily is curled up in bed. The rain mixed with the white noise of her Hatch through the monitor is the soundtrack as my thoughts begin to wander down the path that has become all too familiar. It starts with disbelief. It’s almost as though I have to remind myself that it is in fact true, Joe isn’t here. Now, don’t misunderstand. It’s not that I have forgotten. No. My heavy heart, tired body and glossy eyes feel his loss, carrying the weight of our new reality through each day. But my mind, it struggles. It wants to tell my heart it’s wrong. In so many moments, it still can’t comprehend. Some nights, it tries so hard, but within seconds, it begins to see. And it’s then, when my eyes move to the far end of the couch to find only pillows and my hand reaches out only to land on a cool, empty side of the bed, my mind gives in, and admits the truth. Usually, the path then leads to anger, followed by, yup you guessed it, tears. Sometimes fast and ferocious, others soft and silent but always bittersweet. And usually, it ends in an exhausted haze right before I fall asleep . But tonight, my path has a detour. A big orange arrow, neon flashing sign with Hallmark to thank for it. It’s not just any Saturday night, it’s the Saturday before Father’s day.
My words are not flowing in this moment. They’re jumbled, stuck, drowning as their jagged edges get caught in the current of the relentless waves. As I stare at the blinking cursor, Joe’s knack for picking our cards comes to mind. I smile. He, self admittedly, wasn’t a talker and we’d laugh as he searched for the right words often coming up with the wrong one instead. But he made up for that when he’d always find the perfect card. Birthdays, anniversaries, special milestones, he’d find the card that spoke his mind, shared his heart and although it was someone else’s name typed at the bottom of the sentiment, it was Joe’s name signed on the card and I knew he meant everyone of those carefully crafted words. So tomorrow, that’s the first thing I’ll do. I’ll go pick out a card, one that can take my scattered, broken thoughts and weave them into seamless sentences of celebration, admiration and love.
To use the word celebrate may seem strange and a thought process not everyone will understand but it’s exactly what I hope to do tomorrow. What I will do tomorrow. No, it may not look like celebrating in the traditional sense as typically that doesn’t involve cemeteries and tears, but it will be our own little version of celebrating the day. We won’t wake him up with morning snuggles and coffee in bed. I won’t watch him open his present as he holds Vienna on his lap, laughing as she tries to eat the wrapping paper. I won’t admire him from across the deck as we have breakfast with his dad or enjoy lobsters with mine. We won’t put V to bed together and watch a movie of his choice. I won’t ask him if he had a good first Father’s day as we lay in bed, ready to sleep. Well, I’ll ask him but we’re still working on the whole me being able to hear him back thing. It breaks my hear to know the things we won’t ever do. But, in these last six months, I’ve realized a broken heart can do more than we think. So, here is what we will do tomorrow.
V and I will wake up in the morning and find the perfect cards (I’m curious to see what she’ll pick out). Next, we’ll make a stop at Dunkin. So many Sundays, holidays or not, Joe and I would get our coffees and a sausage, egg and cheese or two to start our day. With that, we’ll lay out our blanket, spill out the diaper bag of toys and enjoy our breakfast at the cemetery, talking about everything and nothing all at once. Lazy, quiet, peaceful. And while we will take the time to celebrate the other amazing dads (some of whom I truly couldn’t function without) I’ll make it a point to slurp a blackcherry seltzer, eat more than I should, look at Vienna and admire how she’s the best part of him and celebrate Joe in all the little ways. I will talk about him, laugh, cry and smile about him. Because although I don’t need a holiday to do it, tomorrow is his day. Tomorrow, is his first Father’s day and he deserves, in every damn sense of the word, to be celebrated.
This was done by Vienna’s teachers at daycare and I cannot truly express how thankful I am to them for doing it. For not being afraid to “bring it up” but instead, knowing how important it is and will always be, for Vienna to celebrate him.