It's like a club. There isn't a secret handshake or a special password, but there is a unique look, a shifting of the eyes, a softening of the mouth, that will give you a clue. You'll be talking to someone, and when the word "father" comes up in conversation you'll see it and know before they say the words:
Oh yes, you understand. You step a bit closer and ask, "When?" The answer is different every time, of course.
"When I was in high school."
But you know in your heart that it doesn't matter how long it has been. You are all lifetime members of the same, sad society.
There are rituals, of course. On Father's Day, you may run into a fellow member in the store or on the street. A squeeze of the hand or a simple, "How are you?" takes on a special meaning. You don't need them to respond to know that they miss him today.
The birthday ritual and the passing date ritual are, of course, more private. Everyone has their own specialized routine. For some it is quiet prayer in church. Others crawl into bed and have a good cry. Some look at old photos or wear his old flannel work shirt around the house.
But you don't have a particular rite that you perform. Some years you simply think of him in passing and go on with the day as planned. Other years you are floored with grief.
So you write.
You write private thoughts into messy journals that no one will see. Or maybe you pen a birthday letter and share it with the world, your family, your friends. Sometimes you write thinking it will make it hurt less. You write and pretend it isn't real.
But no matter what you do, write, or say, you can't terminate your membership in the club. You may smile and say to the world all around, " I'm fine," but it is a lie. You are not fine. You have no father.
Your daddy is gone.
So you turn to the members of the club and wordlessly plead to be understood. They know you want to be heard but that you don't want to talk. They will let you feel what you have to feel without pushing you to share or heal or move on. Knowing they are near, that they will be there to hold you up when you just want to crumble under the sadness, buoys you.
for Karen, Barb, Veronica, Lorraine, Sue, Sandy, and all of the daughters out there without fathers.
by christine green, member for 15 years