Father’s Day 2021 holds, more than ever before, a mix of joy and gratitude, grief and anger, really the full spectrum. All of it can coexist, as we know, and all of it does.
My own Dad and my own precious husband continue to dazzle us with their steadfast love and hard work, despite what pain each of them hides. They both make fatherhood look easy, as if loving, providing, protecting, and guiding are what they were born to do. Even when their own needs for love and help, some fatherly support, might be lacking. Somehow, they always find new resources to draw on and make the magic happen.
Then my girls. They face this Father’s Day weekend, the first one, really, without their Dad. Last year on Father’s Day, the shock of his suicide was so raw, so included in that long, black storm. A year has passed now, and they have survived every day, every month, every season, riding the waves and somehow staying afloat. Their feelings are not mine to share. What I will say is that I could not be more proud of how they have managed this, of the lives they are building as beautiful, resilient, talented, and life-filled young women. And I could not be more thankful for their individual health and the fact that they are cultivating a true, adult, sisterly friendship. Please keep them and their stepbrother in your warmest, strongest thoughts as they pass this painful milestone.
This morning I am in awe of how charmed my life has been because of good men. My Dad first and foremost, my excellent grandfathers, and so many fun and loving uncles, friends, and mentors, all stepping into my life year after year, showing up at just the right moments, causing me to believe so strongly in the goodness of men as a group that I have angrily resisted modern movements that say otherwise. I love these men. I love the shape and strength they bring to the world. I love the way their energy makes me feel.
And then my husband. The handsome young man who, twenty years ago, stepped eagerly into the thankless role of “stepdad” but loved two little doe eyed girls without any caveat. He might have first loved them because they were mine, but in no time at all he loved them genuinely for who they were, and he dove in greedily to cultivate relationships with each of them. When outside forces tried to puncture that enthusiasm, he only redoubled his love. When crises piled up and life got excruciatingly hard and did not relent, he also did not relent. He stayed and loved harder than ever, and he prayed big and small prayers with me, and with God we did move heaven and earth. Then he gave himself over, again and very happily, to the fun and celebration of being a Dad of young women, all those little girl memories stored up and warming us. He continues to lead and guide, protect, give freely, and remind them to be safe and happy and free. It is an indescribable peace to have him loving this little family.
It cannot be easy for men to be the giver of unwanted advice the deliverer of hard facts and protectiveness, the “bad guy” when what their kids and families want is not best for them. It cannot be easy for men to crave the entire world for their families and work themselves to the bone to make dreams come true, but still feel like it is never enough.
I hope my Dad and my husband always know deep in their hearts that what they do is far more than enough. That what they say sinks in and inspires us. That how they love us day after day, year after year, makes all the difference in the world, whether life is bright and easy or dark and stormy. I hope they both know that we need them now more than ever, and that we love them and are proud to be theirs, no matter how they feel day to day. I also hope that my father in law knows that the foundations he laid for his son are still strong, still solid, and still thrumming with Love.
My gratitude overwhelms me today. Gratitude for the stability we all enjoy because of our Dads’ and husbands’ faithfulness and steadfastness. The comforts we all enjoy because they go to such great lengths to show their love in new and creative ways. The peace we all feel because, when it could have turned out so differently at so many points in time, we still get to be a family.
Tonight, when so many families cannot, we get to gather for a casual, delicious, laughter filled, memory making dinner. We have the inexpressible luxury of looking our men in the face and saying thank you for guiding us, protecting us, listening to our hopes and dreams, and flowing with the unending chaos of life.
Happy Fathers’ Day, and may Love and absolute peace and joy overwhelm you today.