My children no longer have a living father, but we will still celebrate Father's Day. I will be the first to admit that Father's Day is the hardest holiday for me. I can do well on Christmas, Thanksgiving and even my husband's birthday and the day he died (Valentine's Day) but Father's Day... that's a tough holiday.
It's the day everyone is celebrating dad's and how do you celebrate Father's Day when the person you are celebrating is in heaven? It's a whole day reminding me that an amazing father is no longer living. Sunday sermons are dedicated to the role of fathers. Social media posts are full of people celebrating their dad. Restaurants are packed as families go out to eat. For those who have lost a father, or in my case my husband who was an amazing father, Father's Day is particularly difficult. While I could spend the day laying in bed avoiding the day, that is not a good message to send to my children.
My children lost their dad on February 14, 2017, when after a two year battle with cancer, he passed away. Grief is tough. Death (even when we have hope in heaven) is brutal. There are no words to convey the pain one experiences after a loved one passes away. But what I refuse to happen, is in the process of my children losing their dad, they also lose their childhood and their mom.
I don't ever want my children to look back on their childhood and see us avoiding things because they were painful. I don't want them to look back at their childhood and have memories of us not putting up the Christmas tree, avoiding their dad's birthday, hating Valentine's Day and not celebrating Father's Day. Because if I do those things when they are children, not only is it robbing them of their childhood, that is something that they will likely continue to do as adults. We acknowledge the pain in this house. We don't bury our feelings. But we live. Last year I decided Father's Day would be when we would go on vacation each year. We would spend a few days intentionally living and having fun, because that is exactly what my husband wanted us to do if he died.
On Father's Day this year we are going on a road trip. When my children were younger, my husband always talked about how much he wanted us to go on road trips. That idea to me was horrible! My children are 17 months apart and so when they were younger, car rides were not fun. Much of our 20 minute rides just in town consisted of one of them, if not both of them, crying at some point. I would tell my husband that I never wanted to go on a road trip. Yet for Father's Day this year that is exactly what we are doing. It is our way of celebrating their dad by doing something he would have enjoyed so much. We have a beach in Texas, but I really wanted to do an out-of-state trip and thanks to my love of HGTV, I chose to go to a beach in Alabama that I saw on House Hunters, for Father's Day. I am not brave enough (or crazy enough) to do the 10 hour drive to Alabama in one day, so we are going to split it into two days.
Why is this so important to me?
How I grieve is intentional. I don't hide the tears from my children because I want them to understand that it is okay to cry. I want them to see it is okay to still hurt 15 months after their dad died. I want them to understand that getting sad on a random Tuesday, because their dad isn't sitting across from them at the dinner table is okay. How I grieve, is how my children will not only grieve now, but how they will grieve as they get older. And so the tears flow freely in this house.
But just as important as it is for my children to see me grieving, it is important for them to see me living. I refuse to allow sorrow to consume us and I refuse to drown in the pain. My children are young. For two years they spent their Saturday's playing with their toys on the hospital floor while their dad was hooked up to chemotherapy. They've experienced more pain than most children (or adults) will ever experience. And they deserve a childhood. If I stopped living because of the death of my husband, it would be so cruel because in the process of them losing their dad, they would also lose out on a childhood and their mom. And so we spend time playing in our house. We go to the zoo, the park and ride scooters around the neighborhood. We laugh. We smile. And we live. And in doing so, I am teaching my children that our lives shouldn't stop because their dad died. I am teaching them it is okay to live and one shouldn't feel guilty about living.
The way I celebrate (or avoid) holiday's is how my children will celebrate (or avoid) holiday's as they grow older. We talk about how much we wish their dad was here. We talk about the things he would be doing on that particular holiday. We cry. But I make it a point to ensure that the memories my children have as adults of their childhood are not ones of me avoiding holidays. They need to have memories of us celebrating holidays.