June 20, 2010: Our first Father’s Day without you. Stayed inside all day. Pitched a tent in the living room. Ate gobs of junk food. Watched the girls’ favorite movies: Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Bambi, Toy Story. Ran upstairs to cry and scream in my pillow throughout the day. Convulsing panic. The pillows still smelled like you.
June 19, 2011: Our second Father’s day without you. No hiding it from the girls this year. Everyone made cards in school. (The girls pretended you were still alive and made you cards too.) I called Billiam at Liberty View Farms. He knew how badly I wanted a goat and how badly you didn’t want a goat. So the girls and I drove Upstate and got a goat. We named in VanGoat. It lived in our backyard in Yonkers. You would have hated it but we loved it. It ate all the poison ivy. I eventually gave it to our plumber, Bernardo, along with your old truck, in exchange for him installing a new oil tank and doing some other work. He was nice.
June 17, 2012: Our third Father’s Day without you. We’d moved to a new house by now, thank god. No more squeezing my eyes closed to stop the flashbacks. The memories of our lives and that night would always swallow be right there, camping out in the corners and making themselves comfortable on the furniture otherwise. Walking in the door was painful. That was no way to live. I’d put pretty much everything on the curb when we moved, including my photo albums, except the ones with you and the girls.
June 16, 2013: Our fourth Father’s Day without you. Susannah is now 12 and Nell, 14. Their hormones are starting to hate me.
June 15, 2014: Our fifth Father’s Day without you. I took the girls out to dinner at Red Hat in Irvington where we had one of our best date nights. The owner, who you made fast friends with while discussing the merits of dry rub a few years back, actually remembered us. “Your husband is Mark, right? What a great guy! Can’t wait to see him! Happy Father’s Day! I’ll show him to your table when he gets here.” What’s more, he added another setting to our table for three, apologizing for the mistake. I couldn’t possibly tell him and I am absolutely sure he wondered why you never showed. The girls and I barely spoke as your chair echoed empty.
June 21, 2015: Our sixth Father’s Day without you. Maybe this grief thing was finally getting better. The girls baked me a cake and gave me a card which I still have in my dresser drawer. This was the year I think I earned their respect as both mother and father. They jokingly started referring to me as Mr. Laura when taking the garbage out (you know I HATE taking the garbage out) and mowing the yard. I am now the resident handyman too, honey! I learned how to fix a toilet, use your circular saw, hang drywall, and call 911 when the broiler caught on fire. I even have my own work bench in the basement now!
June 19, 2016: Our seventh Father’s Day without you. The girls and I ignored the day and went about doing our own things. I’m not sure if that made it better or worse. To quote your favorite saying, “It is what it is.” I remember hearing Nell crying in her room, but didn’t go in. I think it’s better to let them get the grief out without rushing in to save the day.
June 18, 2017: Our eighth Father’s Day without you. I put a beautiful picture of you on the wall. The one on the boat. Then took your ashes for a drive. I wanted to get you out of the house. It was a nice day. Happy Father’s Day, Mark, I yelled out the open car windows, blaring the Bob Dylan song we played at your funeral. “How many roads must a man walk down…” I am now balling my head off remembering and writing this. The pain is still there. It always will be. I have come to accept that.
June 17, 2018: Our ninth Father’s Day without you. I guess you’re not coming back.
June 16, 2019: Our 10th Father’s Day without you. How is it possible that it has been 10 years? I have a bit of gray hair now and wear reading glasses. I wonder what you would look like. I miss your lopsided smile and I-love-you eyes. The girls “made me” breakfast in bed. A grapefruit, toast and coffee. We took a long drive upstate and sat by a river. They’re doing fine.
June 21, 2020: Our 11th Father’s Day without you. I am crying as I update this blog. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I STILL CRY? I often wonder what you would have done if I was the one who died? My worst guess, the one that makes me most unhappy, is that you would have married a someone who would have no problem moving into our big yellow house to feed and water you, make friends with all my friends, and worst of all, play Mommy to the girls. It actually pisses me off whenever I think about this woman, whoever she was, taking over my life.
Maybe I’d died in a fiery crash on the Saw Mill River Parkway or drowned swimming off the dock at our boat club. Or had terminal cancer, God forbid. Whatever took me and placed her in your arms, she’d be the widower’s new wife, the sympathetic character who spoke in hushed whispers about the details of my death at gossip-fueled cocktail parties and tell her yoga-going coffee klatch how “well” the girls were doing. She’d say things like “amazingly resilient” and “little troopers” and then confide to my friends that it wasn’t easy being in her shoes. How she is trying her best. And then they’d touch her arm or even hug her and tell her how wonderful she was and how much she must truly love my husband to have taken all of this on.
Meanwhile, she’d quietly get rid of all my traces, one room or one treasure at a time, until she could finally feel at home in my home. And you would have let her without saying a word because as much as you may have possibly loved another woman, you also would have needed to love another woman even if she didn’t know the names of the girls’ stuffed animals. She would get it all. You. Our daughters. My hard work. My love.
God, I hate her when she pops into my head.
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