‘We won’t wake him up with morning snuggles and coffee in bed. But we will celebrate him.’: Widow shares grief, celebration on Father’s Day

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“It’s Saturday night. Vienna is sound asleep and Lily is curled up in bed. The rain mixed with the white noise of her Hatch through the monitor is the soundtrack as my thoughts begin to wander down the path that has become all too familiar. It starts with disbelief. It’s almost as though I have to remind myself it is in fact true, Joe isn’t here. Now, don’t misunderstand. It’s not that I have forgotten. No. My heavy heart, tired body, and glossy eyes feel his loss, carrying the weight of our new reality through each day.

But my mind, it struggles. It wants to tell my heart it’s wrong. In so many moments, I still can’t comprehend. Some nights, it tries so hard, but within seconds it begins to see. And it’s then, when my eyes move to the far end of the couch to find only pillows, and my hand reaches out only to land on a cool, empty side of the bed, my mind gives in and admits the truth. Usually, the path then leads to anger, followed by, yep you guessed it, tears. Sometimes fast and ferocious, others soft and silent… but always bittersweet. And usually, it ends in an exhausted haze right before I fall asleep. But tonight, my path has a detour. A big orange arrow, neon flashing sign with Hallmark to thank for it. It’s not just any Saturday night, it’s the Saturday before Father’s Day.

My words are not flowing at the moment. They’re jumbled, stuck, drowning as their jagged edges get caught in the current of the relentless waves. As I stare at the blinking cursor, Joe’s knack for picking out cards comes to mind. I smile. He, self admittedly, wasn’t a talker and we’d laugh as he searched for the right words, often coming up with the wrong one instead. But he made up for that when he’d always find the perfect card. Birthdays, anniversaries, special milestones, he’d find the card that spoke his mind and shared his heart. And although it was someone else’s name typed at the bottom of the sentiment, it was Joe’s name signed on the card, and I knew he meant every one of those carefully crafted words. So tomorrow, that’s the first thing I’ll do. I’ll go pick out a card, one that can take my scattered, broken thoughts, and weave them into seamless sentences of celebration, admiration, and love.

Dad lays on floor and admires baby girl.
Courtesy of Meghan Abate

To use the word celebrate may seem strange and a thought process not everyone will understand, but it’s exactly what I hope to do tomorrow. What I will do tomorrow. No, it may not look like celebrating in the traditional sense as typically that doesn’t involve cemeteries and tears, but it will be our own little version of celebrating the day. 

We won’t wake him up with morning snuggles and coffee in bed. I won’t watch him open his present as he holds Vienna on his lap, laughing as she tries to eat the wrapping paper. I won’t admire him from across the deck as we have breakfast with his dad or enjoy lobsters with mine. We won’t put V to bed together and watch a movie of his choice. I won’t ask him if he had a good Father’s Day as we lay in bed, ready to sleep. Well, I’ll ask him, but we’re still working on the whole me being able to hear him back thing. It breaks my heart to know the things we won’t ever do. But I’ve realized a broken heart can do more than we think. So, here is what we will do tomorrow.

Husband and wife take picture with new baby girl in their home.
Courtesy of Meghan Abate

V and I will wake up in the morning and find the perfect cards. (I’m curious to see what she’ll pick out). Next, we’ll make a stop at Dunkin’. So many Sundays, holidays or not, Joe and I would get our coffees and a sausage, egg, and cheese or two to start our day. With that, we’ll lay out our blanket, spill out the diaper bag of toys, and enjoy our breakfast at the cemetery, talking about everything and nothing all at once. Lazy, quiet, peaceful. And while we will take the time to celebrate the other amazing dads (some of whom I truly couldn’t function without), I’ll make it a point to slurp a black cherry seltzer, eat more than I should, look at Vienna and admire how she’s the best part of him, and celebrate Joe in all the little ways. I will talk about him, laugh, cry, and smile about him. Because although I don’t need a holiday to do it, tomorrow is his day. Tomorrow is Father’s Day and he deserves, in every sense of the word, to be celebrated.”

craft made to honor daughter's late father on Father's Day after he passed
Courtesy of Meghan Abate

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Meghan Abate. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her websiteSubmit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Meghan here:

‘I didn’t just lose my husband, Vienna’s father, or my best friend. I lost parts of myself.’: Young widow shares raw grief over loss of life she imagined

‘We have your husband.’ A pit formed in my stomach. Looking back, my heart hadn’t really begun to break yet.’: Widow shares ‘the pits and peaks of grief’ after losing husband

‘I vowed to love you until death do us part. But it seems that wasn’t exactly the truth.’: Young widow rethinks vows on wedding anniversary

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