June 20, 2010: Our first Father’s Day without you. Prayed the girls would not figure it out. (I was getting good at hiding things from them.) Stayed inside all day. Pitched a tent in the living room. Ate gobs of junk food. Watched their 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 bed 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.) 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 got a goat. We named in VanGoat. It lived in our backyard in Yonkers. I eventually gave it to our plumber, Bernardo, along with your old broken down truck, in exchange for him installing a new oil tank. He was nice.
June 17, 2012: Our third Father’s Day without you. We’d moved by now, thank god. No more squeezing my eyes closed, covering them with my hands to stop the flashbacks. Your body. The blood. The sirens. Everything. The memories of that night would always swallow our lives whale whole and be right there, camping out in the corners and making themselves comfortable on the furniture. I’d put everything on the curb when we moved, including my photo albums, except the ones with you.
June 16, 2013: Our fourth Father’s Day without you. Susannah was now 12 and Nell was now 14. Their hormones were 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. You and I had a beautiful dinner together at their former restaurant, before they moved it to the waterfront. The owner, who you made fast friends with while discussing wine that first night, actually remembered me. But it was only because of you. “Your husband is Mark, right? What a great guy! Can’t wait to see him! Happy Father’s Day! I’ll show him directly to your table when he gets here.” What’s more, he moved us to a table for four, thinking they’d made a reservation mistake. I couldn’t possibly tell him and I am absolutely sure he wondered why you never showed for your Father’s Day dinner. Your chair sat empty all night. The girls and I barely spoke.
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 it 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 Bob Dylan’s funeral song to you. “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.
June 17, 2018: Our ninth Father’s Day without you. Would you still love me?
By Laura Fahrenthold, Author of THE PINK STEERING WHEEL CHRONICLES. Release date June 26, 2018. Available in book stores everywhere.