My First Father’s Day without my Dad

IMG_3376One of my father’s greatest gifts was his ability to love others unconditionally, flaws and all.  When I would complain to him about my perception of one’s ignorance he would always smile and say, “Lisa honey ignore them.  Be happy.” 

If you Google “First Father’s Day without Dad” you will instantly become inundated with post after post.  It’s only May and I’m feeling the anxiety building up for my very own first father’s day without my Dad.  I’ve been living on Advil and feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of it.  There are no words to describe the heartache I’m feeling and how much I miss my father.

As a little girl I would rush into my parents bedroom Father’s Day morning with my best attempt at serving breakfast in bed screaming, “Happy Father’s Day Daddy!  My Dad is so rad!!!”  Maybe not the best poem, but hey I was a kid.  One particular Father’s Day I tripped onto their bed, spilled the entire bowl of Cheerios on both my parents, milk and all.  I can still hear my father laughing and thanking me for thinking of him.

You simply cannot escape the Father’s Day madness.  The other day I took a massive detour in the grocery store to avoid walking past the overwhelming, obnoxious Father’s Day display of greeting cards. Bad enough the music they play now makes me cry at the drop of a hat.  I refuse to walk past the greeting card aisle until Father’s Day is long gone.  As if all that isn’t bad enough there’s the never ending Father’s Day advertising.

Buy Dad a grill set this Father’s Day!  

Bring home a delicious ice cream cake for Dad this Father’s Day!

Take Dad out for a big juicy steak this Father’s Day!

Pretty much every single Father’s Day advertisement revolves around food.  Way before I began grieving the death of my father, I was grieving the loss of his ability to eat. Our family became quite creative each holiday.  We proudly pounded our chests and exclaimed, “We do not need to revolve our holidays around food!”  Despite all this, a small piece of me was envious of the endless social media posts proudly displaying other families enjoying a mouth watering Father’s Day meal.  I wanted so badly to take my father to a restaurant for his favorite meal and raise my glass to my father on his special day.

My normal routine leading up to Father’s Day would start with me asking my father the following, “Dad what do you want this year?” Like many Dads he would respond, “You, your sister and your mother are my gifts, just be happy.”   I would then drive myself crazy finding him the perfect set of pajamas, perhaps something personalized for him, something to remind him just how much I adored him.  I would mail him at least 3 cards.  A funny card, a mushy sentimental card and another card because I could never make my mind up. 

This year the will be no searching for the perfect gift, no quest for the perfect card, no beating myself up thinking of something non food related to make my father smile.  My father died after a long, valiant battle with Stage IV base of the tongue cancer.  My only purchase will be some nice flowers and candles to put on his grave.

Just four months ago, I watched my father, the most wonderful man I know die.  First, cancer stole his ability to eat.  Slowly he lost so much weight that you could count his ribs.  Then he could no longer use the restroom on his own or get out of bed on his own.  During the final days of his life he was so weak he couldn’t even lift his hand to press the button on the remote control for the television.   Eventually my father’s voice became so gurgly it was a challenge to understand what he was trying to tell us.  Bit by bit cancer was ripping my father apart and I had a front row seat. 

Now all I’m left with are a lifetime of beautiful memories that send me into a tailspin of anxiety, depression, endless tears and a broken heart.   If you’re reading this and your father is alive promise me you will hug your father this Father’s Day and take him out to dinner.  Promise me you if you were blessed like me you will thank your father for a wonderful life.

If you’re like me, and you have lost a father whom you love and adore let’s embrace Father’s Day with gratitude and courage.  Let’s celebrate the our father’s memory and courage.  Countless individuals walk through life never experiencing unconditional fatherly love, to them Father’s Day represents a massive void.   There are many who will never know the love of a father.  When I think of this, I realize that I have been blessed with a magnificent man for a father.  

My father has always been my hero, the man who loved me unconditionally and made everything better. Even in death, he continues to show me he is always there for me.  This Father’s Day I will do something to honor my father.  Maybe I’ll release balloons, plant a tree, pay it forward.  I haven’t decided yet, but I will do something to make my new guardian angel proud and smile.

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Happy Father’s Day in heaven Daddy, I love you more.

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12 thoughts on “My First Father’s Day without my Dad

  1. I lost my dad last month to Pancreatic cancer, so I can relate. I would feel so guilty eating, because he could not. It was terrible, but although it hurts to not have him, I am thankful that his suffering is over. Last night and this morning was rough, but today he showed me that he’s still with me, it was the first time that I experienced those little signs everyone talks about, and it brought me joy. I hope that this father’s day you are able to focus on the good things, and I am sure you will find a great way to honor him.

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  2. May you always have the memories and comfort that your Dad is watching over you!
    It will be 2 years in June since I lost my Dad. He was a amazing person who taught me so much ( life lesson you don’t see coming) unconditional love is a the top of my list too! I feel him with me everyday. He gives me strenght!
    Your Dad will always be there for you!
    God give you peace and guidance through your difficult time!

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  3. I lost my father 4 years ago On May 28th . The loss of my father was like no other . Not only did I have to dread his death but then I dread Father’s Day every year . Not everyone understands the loss of a father . I was down and out today and I read your story and I no longer feel alone . My dad was my best friend and I will forever have a hole in my heart that no one can fill . Thank you for sharing your story . I no longer feel like no one understands because you do .

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    • Thank you Crystal, I’m glad we found each other. You are right, there are some who do not understand, I feel sorry for them because a father’s love is a beautiful blessing. Thank you for reading & commenting 🙂

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  4. My Dad passed away at 59 yrs old! He has been gone for 28 yrs and I miss him and think of him every day! my dad always fixed everything! He was always there when we needed him ! Happy Fathers Day in Heaven Dad!!!

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  5. Lisa, you explain the loss of a father so clearly.. I lost my Dad to Panceratic Cancer on July 30, 2015 and it is a void like no other. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with all of us. Many of us are in the same boat as you. This year being the first Fathers Day with out Dad with be the hardest. But I do believe there is always a part in your heart that will be empty without him here on earth.. Thank you again for sharing you heart with all of us..💖

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    • I’m sorry for your loss. They are truly missed and leave a tremendous void. Thank you for reading and commenting, it’s comforting to know we are not alone 🙂

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