As I scramble around trying to find the perfect last minute Father’s Day gift for you, my father, my step-father, and your dad, I realized that for the last three years, your sons haven’t spent Father’s Day with their Dad. I have been with mine- all of mine, but they haven’t been with theirs. The past three years of our life have been filled with struggle and separation, not due to marriage issues, but due to the military and the fact that sometimes, Dad’s have to be gone. When you are as young as the boys, sometimes that’s hard to understand, but now at age 5, our oldest is starting to figure it out. He often asks where you are or what you are doing. He questions why his dad has to be gone, and I am sure, that when Father’s Day finally arrives, we will have some issues to sort through with them. We’ve already sent the Father’s Day cards, but that was weeks ago to ensure that they arrived on time. But on Sunday, when they see kids with their Dad at the park or see my Dads getting their gifts, I am sure that they will wonder why they can’t celebrate with you. It is likely they will brush it off and act like any other day, but I know they feel the sadness, or even jealousy, even if they can't describe it.
A month ago we discussed how I wasn’t looking forward to Mother’s Day at all because it was just one more holiday you were missing, and one more day that nothing was different. You mentioned that you didn’t want to make Father’s Day a big deal because you aren't here. In fact, you hinted that you hadn’t been a dad this year so you didn’t deserve it. I quickly denied that claim, but was stuck in a place of making my husband feel better about himself and trying to find a way to prove to you that he was still a good dad despite the distance. I didn't say it at the time, because I was stuck in this hard place and this conversation had lengthy breaks in time, but you really made me think about you as a father and this is what I've come up with:
You have always been there for our family. You are the one who brings logic to the table when this seem like we don't have a way out. You are the one who is the protector of the house, the finder of the monsters, the keeper of the light. You are the bedtime King, book reader extraordinaire, giver of the baths, and the one who keeps them safe. You always have adventures for the boys to go on, you bring excitement to the night, and every day, when you come home, you are the only thing in the world that matters to them.
But, just because you are half a world away doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve this day any less, or that any of those things have changed. Sure, I give the baths, I had to show them my muscles and prove to them that they were safe, but, you are still their first choice. Even when you are gone, we talk about you non-stop. We save a seat at dinner for you every night. We talk about what you are doing and how you are helping out those who need it. We talk about what the boys want to do with you when you come home and with excitement, they rattle off ideas and develop plans for you and them. You are still the center of their world, you are still their number one choice for fun and adventure. You are still their Dad. See?
You are with them, no matter where they are or what they are doing. You are the one that they want by their side during parades, to snuggle them to sleep, and to watch them play and grow. You have shown them the world, and they trust you to show them more and more until there is nothing left to see. To them, you are a super hero. You are the one they look up to. You are the one that has had an impact on them like no other. Can you see all the love in those pictures? It's all for you.
While you are gone, they have had some fabulous stand ins, our Dads have done an amazing job at taking the time to give them the boy time they so desperately need, to be the role models they are looking for, to imprint upon even,
And while they are great substitutes, they are no match for you. They are trying not to take on the Dad role, because they are all so wonderful at the grandfather role they are in, but they know how to interject you in everything they do with them, and if you could see them interact with our boys, you would beam with pride.
Eric, I know you can't be here to get some crazy boy-picked-gifts this year, but know that Father's Day is not a day we can just forget about. You mean so much to this family and whether you are here or not, we are going to celebrate you. And while it may be a bittersweet day, know that the day we get to see you will be the best Father's Day you could ever ask for.
Thank you for being the best father I could have picked for my children. I love you. We all love you.
Happy Father's Day,