Father’s Day last year was one of the worst days of my life. It was the day of my grandpa’s funeral, and my words can’t express how hard that was for my entire family.
My grandpa was more than the patriarch of our family. There was so much love there. He was genuinely interested and invested in us, and he just always listened. He was always there. And then, suddenly, he wasn’t. I have heard people compare losing someone to losing a limb. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a limb, but I do know this: shortly after I had my daughter, I was holding her and she was crying, and I was trying to soothe her, and so instinctively I put my hand on my stomach and started to rub it. It was like I just couldn’t accept that she was no longer inside me, and that she was no longer physically a part of me. That is sort of like what it was like to lose Grandpa. I never thought he would be gone. I never imagined that I couldn’t get him on the phone or go visit and give him a hug. I have felt since that day that there is a part of me missing and I will never get it back. And I wouldn’t want to fill that space, because that would dishonor him somehow. I will never get over losing him, but we all have honored him well by thinking of him and continuing to love him, even though he’s gone. I think often that I want to make him proud. And when I want to give up because of my Crohn’s, when it gets really bad, I think about him and think that he wouldn’t want me to give up. He keeps me going. That’s how strong his influence has always been on me.
Yesterday our family met at the park and had a Father’s Day picnic. It was a year and one day after his death. Grandma was there and I think she and we all were feeling really good, because we were there together. My daughter made us all laugh, especially when she took off naked mid-way through a diaper change. My dad had to chase her down. Even the people at the other tables were laughing. We honored Grandpa by being together, by smiling, by laughing, by being close. By being outside, which he loved. By being with Grandma, who he loved more than anything or anyone on earth. We did this because we wanted to, because we love each other and genuinely like each other too. I feel lucky to have family like I have. I know my grandparents worked hard to build what we have. In that, they’ve given us the promise of beautiful lives, and that is the most amazing gift in the world.
One of my favorite poets, Barbara Ras, wrote a poem called “You Can’t Have it All,” which starts out, “But you can have this.” I’m paraphrasing since I don’t have it in front of me, but my point is that things aren’t and will never be perfect. But you can look around you at what you do have, and feel that love and feel grateful. I am grateful. But I miss you, Grandpa. Thank you, for everything.