Today was Easter. And it was the first Easter without my Dad. We have been through a lot of holidays without him so far. Our birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and his birthday, which was just last weekend. And there are many other holidays ahead of us.
What struck me today is how it still does not seem real. Every time I am in Michigan for a visit, and especially for a holiday, I just look around and think Where's my Dad? Where is he and when will he be coming back? Of course, I know the answer, but it never stops me from asking the question.
Today's Easter celebration had an awkwardness to it that has become all too familiar these last few months. We went through the motions of an Easter celebration. We cooked dinner and cleaned up, hung out with the kids, had an egg hunt, ate dessert and then cleaned up again. We engaged in polite conversation about our lives and did the best we could to act normal. But we all know that things are not normal.
No one in my family really talks about how we feel. We don't acknowledge that my Dad isn't there and we don't really talk about how strange everything feels without him. We may talk in very general terms about how things are 'different' but we never really go much deeper than that.
I think mostly we don't talk about it because it is too painful. Even the mention of his name or a fleeting memory of him can cause me to break down in tears. And I suspect the same is true for the rest of my family. We can't talk about it because it is just too hard. And because talking about it won't change anything or bring him back. It will only make us sad.
I've been trying to articulate why it feels so different without my Dad, aside from the obvious, which is that he has been there my entire life. Every holiday. Every birthday. Every day. But what I managed to come up with today is that my Dad was the person who made us all feel appreciated. He made us feel special.
If my Dad was here today, he would have supported my Mom while she was getting things ready and told her that she was doing a great job. And he would have greeted everyone at the party with a hug and took that minute to connect with each of us and let us know that he was happy to see us. And he would have hung out in a chair while we all brought him food and snacks. And he would have told me that my scalloped potatoes were the 'best ever' and he would have said that the desserts were delicious. He would have watched as the kids ran around and he would have chimed in here and there while we all chatted. At some point, he probably would have nodded off until one of us woke him up for the next thing.
If my Dad was here today, we would have done all of the same things. But somehow everything would have been better. It would have had more meaning simply because he was there to enjoy it. That is the way it was with my Dad. And it holds true whether it is Easter, Christmas, a birthday party, or just some random day that I stopped over to my parent's house to drop off a banana bread.
My Dad made everyone feel good. He made us feel loved and appreciated. Even though we didn't do all of those things just for him, somehow he was the person who made them all worth doing.