Father’s day is near and this year I don’t feel prepared to lament the indefinite absence of my father’s presence once again. As if there ever was a preparation substantial enough to carry the weight that my father is no longer alive. It’s been almost 22 years and I never feel prepared to think about it or actively acknowledge it because it hurts. But at times, even in this reality of loss, I feel hope. Well, this year, I REALLY feel my father’s absence; not only in the lack of his physical presence, but more so in the lack of his words.
“Words have a longevity we don’t. ” – Paul Kalanithi
A friend of mine recently blogged about the fear of losing dear memories of her daddy after he passed away. As I read that blog and thought more about my own father, I began to wonder what I should do if I have no memory of my father affirming me. Not one. No “I love you’s” to recount. No memories of his laugh. I can see evidence of his smile embedded within mine when I look at old photos of him. And I have been generously endowed with his nose structure. Thanks dad!
I have friends that have come to understand how deeply I value words of affirmation. It is my top love language. This precious value on words has moved beyond appeasement of personality. It beckons my heart to behold the power of legacy. Words absolutely have a longevity that our frail bodies do not. Our physical bodies fade, but our words, can lift the soul again and again. And for the daughter or son who may have lost a parent, this lifting of the soul is treasured. And needed.
I previously believed that it was enough to simply know of my father’s love, but somehow my heart demands more than just intellectual ascent. Because love that is only known intellectually, feels like no love at all. The heart fails to really connect to such love. Ask the orphan. Ask the estranged family member. Ask me. There are days, weeks, where I long to hear my father’s voice. I long to hear him say I love you. In full candor, I thought that I would mature past this longing as an adult. Now, I realize that maturation is a long, complex, process. I recently heard that maturation comes when you are able to make difficult decisions even when you are still afraid. In that case, my maturity is on the horizon. I am afraid to love my father deeply and allow myself to long to know/understand a man that rejected me as a 2 year old; yet I persist in doing so, with knees knocking. It has been easiest to move past Father’s Day in order to avoid experiencing the fear of immobilizing pain again. In the past four years, I haven’t been able to simply move on. I am thankful for this emotional awakening. There must be an unseen beauty in the process of loving those who’ve left searing emotional scars. A beauty only unveiled as we chose to love.
For some, our journey of love will bear more scars than others.
Parents, whether via birth or adoption, foster or legal guardian, please make space to affirm your children. Your words are most formative. If the painful memory of my father serve’s no other purpose than to espouse the value of affirming children in word and in speech while you are still present, then at least there is some purpose in this pain.
Shout out to my father with the “BluBlockers” in the featured pic of this blog. I love you mane. I miss you. Happy Father’s Day. I’ve heard you were a proud father and I will have to believe the account of those that knew you. – Your daughter
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all of my fears.”