My Father’s Daughter

Today I was sad. Unexpectedly sad.

It’s Father’s Day. Dad died 8 years ago … so there have been other Father’s Days … but this one has caught me by surprise.

Grief is like that … sometimes you can anticipate the difficult days and plan for them … but other days the rug just gets pulled from under your feet and you find yourself free falling without a safety net. Trying to grab something that will break your fall … but finding nothing in your grasp that holds.

‘Special days’ often pass me by … Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter Sunday, Father’s Day, New Year’s Eve … days which are marked as ‘special‘ on the pre-printed calendar that hangs on the wall. Days where we feel we ‘should‘ do something.

For some, these are days of great anticipation … eager expectation … with invitations offered to gather together for celebrations to be shared.

For me … living and working in a hotel … these ‘special’ days were ones where we worked whilst they played!

It was all about making their ‘special’ day … special. And we, in return, would collapse in an exhausted, but satisfied, heap … the months of preparation had paid off … the day had gone well … customers were happy … and would hopefully choose us for their next ‘special’ day.

Even years after I had moved away from home, these remained days for other people … there would be no point in phoning home until late into the night … when the celebrations were done and the parties were over … naps on the sofa had been taken … and late night dinners eaten. The conversations would be tired, exhausted and centred around those other people’s special day.

Marking these ‘special’ days, for our own use, wasn’t really a thing. Apart from Christmas … we shut the doors of the hotel every year and did Christmas for us! [We did also pretty much take over the whole hotel for our wedding … but that’s a different story!]

What then, is this strange sadness I feel this year … this Father’s Day? This unfamiliar … uncomfortable … unwelcome feeling.

I am not my father’s daughter … in the card sending, telephone calling, way that I used to be. That’s not new a new feeling … that has become familiar … some years I have even bought myself a Father’s Day present as a “Yes, I miss him terribly, but I can still celebrate him” kind of thing!

The hotel is closed in lockdown … so this year there are no celebrations, for other people, being hosted there.

Our church building is closed in lockdown … there are no gatherings … no understanding, exchanged, glances … no hugs between those who share the pain of loss … no church family meal for me to cook to distract myself with.

Today I can still observe other people’s marking of this ‘special’ day on the calendar … celebrating dads that are alive … remembering dads who aren’t … dads themselves celebrating being dads … families ‘gathering’ in group chats … and somewhere in the mix of all of that space to be mindful of those who had absent or abusive dads.

It is also Father’s Day in my house … and a great dad lives here … but it feels like ‘not my party’ to organise … but there is a pull in me to do that … or a need to do that … to want to step in … to make it mine … to want it to look like what I think it should look like. But it isn’t mine to host and I shouldn’t try.

So, today, I feel like I am free falling … without an identity to grasp, or a distraction to hold, that would help break my fall.

This year, for the first time ever, this is a really painful place … without the familiar tools to ground myself.

This year, perhaps I am like a bird who has had its wings clipped and hasn’t been able to glide the same way through shifting air currents.

Photo: SarahLou Photography

Free fall is unfamiliar … uncomfortable … unexpected … and my eyes keep ‘leaking’ where I don’t want them to. Yet I know it is normal!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Perhaps also a time to free fall and a time to glide!


4 thoughts on “My Father’s Daughter

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I am glad you Cherish all the special celebrations and time you shared with your dad. Wonderful memories for keepsake.❤️🌺

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  2. The only thing I can say is – this strange, free fall experience you are going through will give you an even deeper understanding of what those whom you counsel go through from time to time. There is nothing to say, apart from giving a safe space to express the unsayable and to be heard.

    Like

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