Those of you that know me know that I received one less father’s day card this year. My son passed away last December, and there has been a litany of “firsts” that my wife and I have had to endure since. First birthday, First Mother’s day, First Valentines day, and so on. Some have gone by with little more than the constant dull pain that seems inescapable since that horrible day. Others more tear filled. It seems hard to predict what to expect.

I always thought that holidays like father’s day were kind of cute, even though they are constructs of the greeting card and/or gifting industry. When the twins were small I’d help them make or buy a card and a gift for mom for mother’s day, and likewise she for me. As they got old enough to do such things without parental involvement they did continue, and even when a card came a day late it was still good to know that they took that honoring seriously. Mostly it was all good fun, though sometimes a little cheesy but we did it because it felt good to have a day during the year to honor mom and dad, and for us to honor our own parents and thank them for all they have given us.

I awoke Sunday not knowing what to expect, not thinking about it really. This weekend was a working weekend for me so I didn’t take much time in the morning to dwell on it, but ran my usual litany of morning routine. Shave, shower, coffee, paper, check Facebook updates… You know the drill, and all on autopilot as usual. It wasn’t until I was out and about at work that the deep depression hit me, that no, I would never receive another card; cute, serious, or otherwise from Erik. I wouldn’t get a text message, phone call, or even a request for help with some little thing. That part of our relationship has had the door cruelly slammed on it for eternity. A real sucker punch to the soul. I had to pull off the road for a bit and gather myself before I could continue with my daily grind. And still the dark cloud followed me all day long. I tried to concentrate on work, even to the point of driving cross town to work in an area I’m not usually assigned to, but it didn’t help much.

Feelings of guilt wracked me. I should have been there. I should have done this differently or that. Whatever the thought it all came down to one thing. I failed as a parent. The one thing I took more seriously than any other, and I fucked it up. Fucked it up in the most disastrous way possible. Yeah, I know what survivor’s guilt is. Intellectually I understand completely. But on certain days my heart takes over for my brain and other thoughts intrude. Yesterday was most definitely one of those days.

I got home at 5 and Monica had put together a nice Father’s day dinner, and as I sat down I saw that she had left a card by the placemat from her and Erik. The most beautiful and thoughtful prose – 2 and a half pages worth – that blew that dark cloud away as if it had never actually existed.  An act of love that may not eliminate that dull pain, but that did erase the depression that had dogged me since I had left that morning. Her words set me at ease in a way that I cannot explain. I don’t know if it’s the counselor in her or her own empathy and love but the effect was damn near miraculous.

Later in the evening my daughter called and we had a nice talk also. I think she thought I was in a fog because I didn’t have a lot to say, but truth be told, I just enjoyed listening to her tell me of her day, her job prospects, and the goings on in her life in Colorado. I could have listened for hours. Today her card came and lifted me a bit more. Thank you Nicole.

I suppose the lesson here is that sometimes the smallest acts of love are the largest. That something as simple as a card and a few handwritten pages can lift you in a way that nothing else could have. I count my blessings every waking moment for my beautiful wife and daughter. I am always amazed at my good fortune to have met and married Monica, and Nicole is an amazing young woman with a wonderful future ahead of her.

I still miss you Erik. I count my blessings for our time together. I know you would have recognized the day and sent me a funny card or a text message about the increasing number of gray hairs poking out of my head.  Love you too son.

A day at the beach

Erik and Dad