June 17, 2017

tomorrow is father's day.

This post could alternately be titled, "Real Life: I took 2 Vacation Days so I didn't have to work on the first Father's Day without my dad."

I'm trying to be gentle with myself, y'know? Today is ten months since I lost my dad. Tomorrow is just a glaring reminder that I no longer have him in my life. I slept in this morning. Drank coffee out on the deck. Took pictures with my new Anthropoligie mug. Had a dance party to "Circus" by Britney Spears because WHY NOT? Life is too damn short.

I spent my afternoon curled up in the chair in the living room reading Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro. I first heard Dani on an episode of The One You Feed podcast. I got a former library copy off of thrift books and have been underlining like crazy in black ballpoint pen (that may or may not be running out of ink... #oops). 

Since losing my dad, I have been closer examining my relationship with God. 

For a little bit of background... Both of my parents were Catholic. My grandma on my mom's side attended the same church all her life. That same church was the very same one everyone in my family made their first milestones in... My grandma and all of her siblings, as well as my mom and her siblings and myself, were all baptized at the front of that church. We all walked down the same aisle to make our First communion. I threw a fit every Sunday morning at approximately 8:30 growing up because I didn't want to get out of bed for Sunday School at 9 and then meeting my dad and grandma for mass at 10. My dad always bribed me to be good during church by promising me donuts after. 

Grandma would sit in the car as we'd go inside. The mornings we went to J. J.'s Bakery were my favorite. I can still remember the familiar green and yellow signage, J. J. curving around in an elegant script. The shop was tiny, and the donut case took up about half the space. We always got a dozen donuts—custard filled for grandma, crullers for my momma, jelly filled for dad, and long johns with sprinkles for me. I watched in awe as the man behind the counter fulfilled my six year old dreams of brightly colored rainbows and pink frosting.

I never realized how much those Sunday mornings rituals would mean to me until life inevitably changed and our routine was abandoned.

* * * * *

I have essentially been questioning my relationship with God my entire life. I was never actually sure of the stuff the teachers in Sunday school were spewing was real or not. (I was usually more concerned with how much I would have rather been in bed, still peacefully asleep and unaware of the outside world.) I think I was thirteen when I declared to my friend Brittany, "I'm an agnostic. Take that Catholicism."

Grief has opened up an entirely new window in my relationship with God. 

There has definitely been a shift in the last ten months. It started in the days after he died, as I was going through the book of scripture from the priest to find the readings for his funeral. I clutched the book close to my chest and talked to my dad.

"Dad, I don't know how to do this. Teach me how to ride a bike again. Teach me how to drive in an empty parking lot one more time. Help me to find the readings out of this book. Teach me how to say goodbye."

I scanned the book with tears brimming my eyes the entire time. I was looking for phrases that stood out to me. Small, beautiful phrases. Something that resonated with me. I couldn't for the life of me tell you the passages we read from that day, but I remember both of them had to do with light. And ever since that day, I have found God in light and shadow, in remembrance of that moment. 

* * * * * 

Tomorrow is Father's Day. And so again tonight, I am praying to my Dad.

Please give me the courage to face tomorrow with an open heart. Use the same gentleness you did every time you let me go without training wheels. Let me remember all that you were and feel out the grief. Give me the grace to not be overwhelmed when I feel soft and breakable. Give me a gentle reminder not to get lost in the darkness. Show me toward the light again.


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