"Oh, yeah," I replied. "Father's Day. I didn't even realize that it was this weekend. I'm kind of glad I didn't know, but I guess I should get some cards in the mail."
"Yes! You need to get on that!" said my mom. Well, I'm not sure that's exactly what she said, but it was something like that.
"I know, I know, but Father's Day is hard for me. I need to think about this."
We changed the subject and moved on, but the conversation stung. The content hurt, as did the sudden knowledge that another Big Date loomed large, another day on which to miss John more, feel his absence more acutely. My mom apologized the next day for not being as sensitive as she could have been, which was nice. I could not, however, ignore the knowledge that I had gained about the significance of the coming Sunday.
I did get cards sent out. Whew. That was the easy thing. Figuring out what to do on the day was much harder. For once, the twins and I had basically nothing planned for the weekend, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep things low-key or schedule things to take my mind off of who wasn't there. As if I could take my mind off of who wasn't there. Yeah, sure, right.
In the end, I did a mix of both. We got up on the later side on Sunday (I guess that was my Father's Day gift from the babies) and had breakfast. Then we did our Significant Thing. A friend had given Maddie and Riley kits for making their own plates. The kids draw a picture on paper that is provided, then you mail the picture in and it is transferred to a plate. You can add a message around the edge of the plate, too. The twins are really getting into drawing lately, so I set them up at the table and said, "Let's draw pictures for Daddy!" They each drew a half-dozen pictures or so, and I chose the ones I liked best to be transferred to the plates. Their new dishware will say, "Maddie [Riley] loves you, Daddy!" on the top and "Father's Day 2008" on the bottom. Perhaps this will be the start of an art-projects-for-Daddy tradition for us.
After that, it was grocery shopping, lunching, napping, and dinnering with friends. All in all, it was an OK day. Of course, I missed John, but that's the status quo. I tried to remember what we did last year for Father's Day and I have absolutely no recollection; my calendar tells me that we had a lot of friends in town visiting. It seems that last year I just ignored the fact that it was Father's Day and kept myself busy with other things.
I don't usually get that hung up on the Big Dates. For whatever reason, they mostly seem just like other days to me. The grief waxes and wanes, and sometimes the waxing coincides with a Big Date. Sometimes it doesn't.
The two exceptions for me are John's birthday (December 7) and Father's Day. I'm not sure why John's birthday is harder for me than, say, his deathiversary day. But it is. The reason that Father's Day is hard is no mystery. Becoming a dad was so important to John, but the only Father's Day he experienced as a parent was when the twins were still in utero. Maddie and Riley will never get to make their dad breakfast in bed on his special day, and will never get to hear his praise for the art projects the do. If their class at school does a Father's Day project, they'll have to deal with explaining where their dad is, or, rather, why he isn't at home. Maddie and Riley aren't unique in this, of course, but that doesn't make it easy. I expect that this is the last year that the twins will be ignorant of what a daddy is and relatively carefree about the fact that theirs is not present.
I haven't thought much (OK, at all) about how I'll explain John's absence to Maddie and Riley, but it's something I need to start considering. For now, they know Mama and Daddy as assigned names, like Susan and Jason. At daycare, when a parent arrives, they will say, "That M's mama!" or "That S's daddy!" because I have provided those labels. That one is a woman and one is a man and that they come in pairs (in one case, "B's Mama" and "B's Other Mama") is, for now, lost on them. But I doubt it will be for much longer. I don't look forward to the time when they gain a realization that a very important someone is missing from their lives. I dread it for them, and for me. I dread it for all of us.
I have decided to get myself a Father's Day present.
I can think of no better way to honor my game-loving husband than by getting a gaming system of my own. I'm definitely going to get a Wii and Wii Fit. I have been using the Wii Tracker, and thus far have not been able to get my hands on a console that does not come bundled with games I don't want. Jen is pressuring me to just buy a bundle (console + extra controllers + some number of games), saying that some of the bundled games are good and I'll want the extra controllers anyway. I'm still waffling, but eventually a purchase will be made. Getting the Fit is a whole other ball of wax. All in due time, patience is a virtue, etc.