This morning, I asked Katie if she wanted to wish her dad a happy Father’s Day. We haven’t spoken to him for a long time. Katie and I see our lives differently than he does and it’s been difficult for us to find a way to each other, to connect on the island formerly seen as a middle ground. I love Katie’s dad dearly. I love both of Katie’s parents. Katie and her mom are so similar in the way they both talk. They can discuss endlessly so many things about how they see the world in a language that not all can understand as fluently. They both laugh at the same kind of joke. While they talk, Katie’s dad and I tend to observe them in a non-conversational silence. I always imagined that, although we never conversed verbally as we watched the two people we love trade stories back and forth, there was a subtle camaraderie in our observance of their discussions. Katie and her dad are both born within a few days of each other in February. Myself and Katie’s mom are both born a few days apart in July. There is a balance I can’t describe in the symmetry of that fact, an unspoken understanding that there is Katie’s mom and Katie, and me and Katie’s dad. Whether or not he even saw it that way, I don’t really know, but there is a poetic eloquence to it I like drawing in my mind.
The fact that I haven’t spoken to Katie’s dad since October is hard for me. I met Katie, and inherited parents in Washington, a home to go to on holidays, a family connection I haven’t had since I left California. The first time I met them, Katie let me know last minute that we would be stopping by their home on the way back from a weekend in Astoria. We had only been dating for a month and the way in which Katie avoided asking me if it was even okay let me know she was nervous to find out my thoughts on the matter, meaning it was important to her that I meet them. I did, and although the specific events of the conversations we had are fuzzy with time, I remember liking everyone I met and feeling good about the meeting. I remember understanding Katie more as I met her parents, seeing for the first time the kindness and humor and air that makes Katie so uniquely herself. I remember watching as Katie talked to her mom, effectively the first time I noticed that Katie’s dad observes those moments, watching with fondness and love the world he had helped build for himself, a family he is so proud of.
Father’s Day is a strange day this year. This is the first time Katie and I are both not seeing our dads. I’ve done this several times now, but this is really Katie’s first year without talking to her dad on the phone, or seeing him around this time to check-in, to say hello. There is a space we can’t fill that is complicated, necessary, and sad, but no less filled with love. I’m learning that love sometimes makes us draw a line, clouding our ability to see clearly in an effort to protect us. There is no right or wrong here, there is only the time lost while we all try and figure it out. Time we cannot get back, but need to take. Time is a necessary evil to becoming the people we are supposed to be, that hidden secret in our future forecast we can only spend so much time trying to predict before realizing we must focus on what’s in the moment, on what we can control. Today, Katie and I finished cleaning our house, greeted family that’s staying with us for the week, sat in silence while I typed this post, ate very good vegan food down the street, and sweated our brains out in the first heat of summer. We are living a good life even if there are moments of loss and pain within it. I hope all the dads out there can appreciate a day of joy and laughter, of hope and appreciation. You’ve earned it, even if your children aren’t able to celebrate with you, even when you need to take time apart. I have to trust we will find our way back to Katie’s dad and I observing Katie’s mom and Katie have conversations and making each other laugh. That said, I’m so grateful for the memory of it as there are very few things I value more.