Today marks the third anniversary of my father’s death. Actually, as I write this, it’s about 90 minutes past three years ago to the moment I found out.
My father and I were estranged for various reasons and I won’t pretend that there isn’t a lot of pain in that all by itself. I was the very last family member to find out, a good 7 or 8 hours after the fact and that holds its own hurt. I didn’t even know he was sick. Before the last time, whenever he got really sick, he’d try to get his affairs in order and reach out, but not this time. I’ve wondered why for three years and I still don’t know. I do know that it’s not because I pushed him away, so there is that.
I guess the reason this is a big deal is that I was/am an absolute daddy’s girl. Our estrangement broke me in ways I don’t even understand. Some of my happiest childhood memories revolve around him. Specifically him opening the world to me. His knowledge of and love for nature was incredible and he fostered in me a thirst for more knowledge and a love of my own.
For the first part of my life, he really was the best dad any child could ask for and my greatest hope for becoming a parent was that my children would have a father that could live up to those early memories, just, you know, forever this time.
On this day, we went to the aquarium. Our family has a standing monthly date with our daughter’s legal godfather, as we want them to have a strong bond. I can not really put into words what a healing experience it is to see my daughter with her father everyday. He loves her with his whole soul and he far surpasses the memories I cling to.
Even more so, celebrating this day with two father figures reveling in the boundless joy that is a little girl. Showering her in love and rediscovering the world with her as she tirelessly drags them from one display to another and listens with as much awe and focus as a 19 month old can muster as they tell her about the things she is seeing.
I wish with all my heart that this little sponge could have known my dad and he her. The man he was at first would have gotten so much joy from her. BUT my hurt eases a little everytime I see the amazing relationships she is even now building with the wonderful and diverse people in her life. She has so many “uncles and aunts” who love her so much and fill so much of the gap left by my dad, that frankly, it overflows quite freely. And I am incredibly grateful for that privilege. I am especially grateful for the amazing father she is currently cuddled up to.