Father’s Day is over. I had spent a lot of time preparing the days prior, posting photos and videos and slideshows on Facebook to remind people of him and tell the world what a great dad he was. But I spent Father’s Day wrapped in some strange sort of bubble of peace and power. I moved in a protective layer. I’m still not decided whether it was God or just numbness.
In the morning, we got up and got ready. I told Audrey we were going to a pretty hill to remember Appa. I also called it the cemetery. Somehow she knew. I wrapped up some orchids a friend sent me a day or so before and packed water and the two bags of your favorite cookies Dan. “Why are you bringing those flowers?” Audrey asked. “Because we’re going to leave them for appa.” “Is appa alive?” “No, no, appa’s not alive. Just to remember him.” That was a very sad question to hear her ask.
In the car, Audrey seemed nervous as I tried to navigate my way for the first time. I’m glad a friend had shown me once before because my GPS told me I had gone the wrong way and I had to ignore it. Audrey asked again and again, “I forget…where are we going?” I would answer- the special hill where we’re going to remember appa and just eat some cookies.” “But…” she’d reply quickly, “I just don’t know where we’re going…”
As I drove in the cemetery I thought of all the people there who must be visiting fathers. And when we pulled up to the hill and opened the doors, a middle-aged woman was sobbing loudly at a grave and then coming back to her car parked near ours. Audrey stared at her. I cried at her sorrow and mine and the woman and I exchanged a glance as I helped Audrey out of her carseat and out of the car.
At the grave, Audrey placed the orchids down. We ate cookies. I prayed. “Here we are,” I said. Audrey wished you a happy father’s day. “Happy Father’s Day Appa.” I took a couple of pictures so she’ll know how we honored him our first Father’s Day without him. It was sad. I did it to honor you – and the life you lived here regardless of whether or not you exist somewhere else or not. Because honor is something more than just remembering.
On the way out, I passed a man and a little girl- about five or six in a little dress, running to another grave. Little girls, I decided, should not visit cemeteries. This was confirmed today when I asked Audrey if she wanted to go back there and she replied quickly, “No.”
And then we drove home. At home, I felt relaxed and the peace and almost euphoria strangely- continued. I received many emails and texts of friends remembering us- this was appreciate and perhaps part of the bubble. Audrey and I baked cupcakes before my parents came over for an early dinner.
I am bothered that no young widow I know, in person, or through message boards, could bear to go to church today. The modern church seems to be geared towards traditional families- those who have it “together.” Isn’t it supposed to be a place of comfort for the weak, broken, and lost? The poor, orphan, and widows?
It took me by surprise that today- the day after Father’s Day- was the one where I felt I couldn’t take any of this anymore. Amidst all of the things I was trying to do, the stupid life insurance called again…I interrupted the woman “He passed away last July…” “Oh, I’m sorry…sorry. Have a nice day.” My blood sugar plummeted.
But yesterday, on the drive home I was thinking about the contradiction inherent in humankind- the strength and power we exhibit in our building and medicine and art…the utter frailty that possesses us- that we can breathe and beat and be alive- and die in an instant. We must be protected from sharp objects, falling objects, water, and fire. Surely there is something divine about our power- something holy in our frailty.