It has been 5 years since my dad died, and this was the first time I was able to stand in front of the Father's Day cards at Target and not collapse in a sobbing fit. Progress, I think. Either that or I have mastered the art of out-of-body-experience shopping. The first few years after he died were terrible. Everywhere I turned the word "Dad" was looming at me, and I kept wanting to scream at the elderly people I saw, "Why not you?" Irrational, I know, but it made sense at the time. The past year or two I have acknowledged Father's Day for my sweet husband's sake, because he is an amazing father, but I haven't done much more than that. I wake up, tell David he's the best, make his favorite food, and try not to think about the fact that my dad never met Zinabu--in fact, never even knew we were going to adopt again.
Today I was able to stand in the greeting card section at the store and spend a few minutes browsing for a card I knew David would enjoy. I was able to banish the vindictive thoughts I had when I saw other people buying cards for their fathers--like, "Do you know how freaking lucky you are????" Not the kind of conversation you exchange with a complete stranger who is just trying to find a humorous Hallmark card.
But I still miss him so much it aches. A terrible ache that has not gotten better over time, as so many people promised me it would. It doesn't get better... you just learn to live with it. I mean, this was the man that hugged me after I accidentally backed into his car when I was 16. The man who encouraged me to go to Italy for the summer after college. The man who was able to answer any question I ever asked him. The man who helped me re-do two kitchens in two houses in two years. The man who loved the summer I worked at Baskin and Robbins because he got free milkshakes. The man who gave me away at my wedding... What do you do when that person is gone?