Some textbooks describe grieving for more than six months as prolonged. Well this Father’s Day it will be almost seven months since my own father died, and I’m no nearer stopping grieving than England are to winning the Euros, so I guess I’m entering injury time on that one.
When it comes to significant occasions, it’d be fair to say Father’s Day has often been near the bottom of my list. My Dad left before I was a year old, I always called him by his first name, we were never the stereotypical father and daughter unit. But we loved each other and, over time, it worked.
And there was one time every year when I would put my childhood grudges aside and let him know how much I loved him: Father’s Day.
The first time I sent Kevin a Father’s Day card was when I was 16. He didn’t ask why it had taken so long but I knew by the way he kept mentioning it that it had been the best decision of my life so far. He finally felt like a Dad.
So this year when, after more than 20 years, I have nobody to buy a card for. Nobody to call on the day, I will feel overwhelmingly disappointed, upset and angry. Father’s Day will hit me hard, I am sure of that. And bring back that grief that I have been trying so hard to come to terms with.
But why? Just because the card shops and chocolate makers tell me it’s a special day? I know it isn’t. It is just another day. But it is one I would rather avoid.
My Dad is not here. He won’t be again. I can barely admit it to myself, so seeing what feels like a never-ending fanfare in shops and online about Daddy this and Daddy that just makes my skin crawl.
I’m not looking for pity or sympathy, or even a nice little rub on the shoulder, I just want people to leave me the hell alone. Harsh I know.
The thing about grief is that people are rarely honest about their feelings for fear of offending, or inciting some awkward silence. But there it is, I’ve said it – I hate Father’s Day and I wish you’d all sod off – *looks around for tumbleweed*.
Father’s Day isn’t a happy day for everyone. For some people it’s downright miserable and, despite not even marking it with anything but a card and a bottle of Rioja in the last 20 years, this year it will hit me hard. From the moment I wake until the moment I pass out after too much of the aforementioned Rioja I will be thinking about my dad. Missing him, mourning him, just wishing he was here.
I can’t stop people posting things on Facebook about how brilliant their Dad is, so I won’t look at it on Sunday. But before you post that quote on social media about how you couldn’t live without your daddy – think about those that do. It’s shit. It’s shit every day. But what will make it more shit this Sunday is when everyone gushes about how wonderful their dad is and mine isn’t here.
Admittedly I never considered how people without a mother felt on Mother’s Day, but after this experience, I will certainly tread more carefully around them next year. Or get them drunk, that might not be a bad idea.
Kevin certainly wasn’t perfect, but who’s Dad actually is? The fact is he was mine. My Daddy, my best friend, my idol, and my partner in Rioja-drinking crime. And now he’s gone. Forever.
Wake me up on Monday.