Yesterday I walked into a Hallmark store to get a birthday card for Michael and came face-to-face with a big display of Father’s Day gifts.
I stared at the “Best Dad Ever” coffee mugs, picture frames filled with photos of fathers and daughters, and various golf gadgets scattered about the table.
Golf. My dad loved golf. I mean really loved golf. He played for years and always talked about getting back on the course for one more game before he died.
How many times in my life have I shopped for golf gifts, I thought to myself as the reality of the upcoming holiday landed in my chest.
When my father died, my friend, Ileen, told me that I was now entering the “year of firsts.” The first Thanksgiving without him. The first birthday. The first Christmas.
There have been other firsts as well.
The first time I came across an old thank you note and saw the familiar handwriting that ended with “Love, Dad.”
The first time I scrolled through my photo library looking for a copy of a contract and stumbled upon the video I took of him and my mom talking about the day they met.
The first time I thought to call him and then remembered that I couldn’t.
As I’ve embarked on this year of firsts, I find that I both fear and welcome each experience. On one hand, each first feels like a jolt to the nervous system, sending shock waves through my heart.
That’s why I braced myself when I walked into the Hallmark store and saw the display. I thought about leaving. I told myself I could turn around, walk out of the store, and forget about Father’s Day altogether.
But I know better. Over the last few years, I feel like I’ve been enrolled in a Masters program called, Facing Grief and Loss, and I’m learning to walk into the fire with my eyes (and heart) wide open.
Embracing the year of firsts is giving me a chance to mourn the loss of my dad little by little. Each holiday, special event, or unexpected reminder of him gives me a chance to witness the way grief transforms pain into precious memories.
And I want those precious memories.
If you’re living through your own year of firsts, I send you a big high five and the hopes for a gentle journey. I know it’s an adventure we all take at some point.
The good news is we don’t have to travel alone .
Video of the Week
Here’s a sweet and touching video with an important message about dads. You can watch it, here.