Today would have been my dad’s 71st birthday. Yesterday I went to two birthday parties, tomorrow I’ll go to work, today I’ve done pretty much nothing. It’s just another Sunday.
June 19, 2016 was the sixth Father’s Day I’ve spent without my dad. The day before that I went to a graduation party, the next day I went to work, the day of I celebrated another, different, wonderful father, but not mine. It was just another Sunday.
May 30, 2016 was the sixth anniversary of my dad’s death. The day before I went to a funeral (ironically enough), the next day I went to work, the day of I did pretty much nothing. It was just another Monday.
Each of these days, and many others, used to send me into a complete and irreversible tailspin. Tears over everything I’ve lost, anger at people around me for not understanding, more tears over what my mom has lost, more anger at people around me for not remembering or not even knowing it happened at all or still being able to see and talk to and hug their dads while I can’t. It was like I set those days aside as days on which I was allowed to be sad — every other day of the year I had to keep it together, never let anyone see me stumble even if something reminded me of him or set me off in some other way, but on those days I could feel all the negative, raw, sometimes unnecessarily dark emotions. I could go to that stupid cemetery and stare at his name written where I didn’t think I’d see it for decades to come; I could talk to (a very select group of) people around me about how sad I was, how utterly broken; I could let people see me upset. But not this year. Something changed this year.
There were no tears on any of these days, no anger, no cemetery visits, no discussions with people around me — and not because they didn’t ask, but because I didn’t want to. I just didn’t want to crawl into that hole again, it’s always so damn hard to climb out. I definitely sensed a higher level of emotion a few days before Father’s Day and a few days before his birthday, and sometimes when I’m reacting way too strongly to something I attribute it to something to do with my loss, but I didn’t let myself fully give in on those days. Maybe I thought I’d be able to let it all out soon enough, but I didn’t.
Is it because I’ve, for lack of a better phrase, “gotten over it”? No. I think I can honestly say I’ve “gotten over” the initial shock, the sucker punch in the gut, but I’ll never get over my dad’s death, the sucker punch that will keep on hitting me for the rest of my life. I don’t see how any human being could?
Is it because time has done what it’s known to do, heal? Maybe. His death is so ingrained into every single thing that I think and do and feel, that it’s just who I am now. “Hi my name is Kate and my dad died when I was 22 years old.” Some people say you shouldn’t let death define you, but how can it not?
Is it because there are other worries, other sadnesses, other frustrations taking up all the space in my brain? Almost definitely. Work, continuous quarter-life crises, friends, a less-than-ideal relationship with my mom (which I know would make my dad very upset) — you name it, it’s upsetting me. So is there no more room for my dad in my ever-worried brain?
Or is it because the sadness is the new reality? Am I just so used to it that I don’t notice when the sadder days are happening, because I always range from a little bit to very sad at any given moment? Honestly, I think that’s it. It’s every day instead of specific days, it’s sometimes the only feeling and it’s sometimes barely there at all, it’s an existence I’ve somehow grown comfortable in, an existence without my dad. And that, perhaps, is the scariest thing of all.