Family, Personal, Perspective

First father-less Father’s Day

There’s been so much I have wanted to blog about in the last couple months, but between an uptick in teaching yoga, planning a 5-day road trip, so many sleepless nights due to toddlerhood… oh, and regular occurrences of falling down into the grief hole (as I like to call it), I haven’t been in the mental space to focus and write. But here we are on Father’s Day, and I’m facing my emotions head-on again.

Over the years, I have always turned to writing when I’m processing big emotions. I think I find myself in such a raw space that I have to write to work through my thoughts. I write to express myself and try to put my feelings into something tangible. Writing is so much like my yoga in that it’s me in the purest sense. It’s my emotions, coursing through my veins like my breath, and instead of asana expression, it’s words.

I don’t always write to share. I have had many many journals since childhood that I should probably burn before I die. But there are also times I write because the spoken word cannot do the written word justice.

Right before high school graduation, I wrote many letters of gratitude and genuine connection to my classmates. Some of the recipients were people I wasn’t necessarily close to in friendship but with whom I knew through class or organizations. These were people I probably didn’t feel close enough to say those words in person (because it would’ve been awkward) but that I wanted them to know I enjoyed their wit/humor/dedication/curiosity over the years.

I also recall writing a handful of angry letters in my 20s – usually in the middle of the night – to people who caused a lot of hurt to me. This was before social media made being passive aggressive a digital art, so these letters were raw emotional wounds bleeding all over them. Heavily leaning on the aggressive side. 🙂

With all of those big writing moments, there was a clear singular emotion from which I drew. However, Father’s Day brings up a mixed bag, and at the heart of it is uncertainty.

I can’t give anyone a clear answer to, “How are you doing?” in regards to my father’s death. There will never be a clear answer. I’ve described the pain of his sudden death like my heart shattering into a million pieces that are trying to stitch back together in a more expansive way. There’s a lot of scar tissue and healing in progress. I still cannot listen to Elvis or Tom Jones. Even yellow shirts are highly emotional as my dad had so many yellow shirts in his wardrobe.

I cry when it’s late at night or if I’m given too much time scrolling through Facebook, which inevitably always pulls up a photo of my dad or one that he took of our family. I cry when I think about how my boys knew him when they were too young and that these memories will fade so quickly. I avoided going back to Dallas between Christmas and April because there is so much emotion tied to my childhood home.

We were up in Dallas last week to visit my mom after she took a few months to be with her side of the family. As we left, I remembered how my dad would always walk us to the car and wave us goodbye until we were down the street and out of view. I made sure to visit him at the mausoleum before we got on the highway. I had a few quiet moments with him. It had been a while. I know he knows that we’re okay and that we are being “yong gan” (brave) for each other and for Mom and my grandparents.

In the almost 9 months since he’s been gone, my biggest emotional challenge has been being comfortable with this constant uncertainty. Accepting the impermanence of life and in life. Finding santosha (contentment) in my everyday. Life is full of suffering, and it demands more compassion for others’ suffering.

Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo by my brother George, of Dad holding the Big Kid.

Photo by my brother George, of Dad holding the Big Kid.

While I try not to use my blog as a dumping ground for my emotions, I do hope that by my sharing my grief and my suffering, you will have a better understanding. For those of you who have also experienced deep loss, I know you are also suffering and grieving in your own way. My heart goes out to all of you.

Baba, I miss you dearly. You gave such sage advice, and I draw from your wisdom and kindness in all of my daily challenges as an adult and as a parent. Happy Father’s Day!

And while this Father’s Day (and I’m sure many more) is a gray reminder that I’m father-less, I do have this amazing man in my life that I’m forever thankful for. He and our two boys have so many traits like Baba that I know I did something right at some point to deserve such a loving family. I mean, come on… I totally hit the jackpot here.


Hug all the Dads in your life extra tightly! And let them know how much you love ’em!

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