Happy Father’s Day, Clay! Turns out fatherhood is super easy when your kid is an angel. (Literally!) This well-rested dad never even had to change a diaper!
Dark humor! Yay!
This post is Inspired by @thelaminimalist who wrote an essay titled “Why I use dead dad jokes to get through Father’s day” after her dad died. In part of her essay she writes, “making jokes was my way of saying both “you can grieve with humor,” and “I’m not going to pretend for your comfort.””
Here’s how that looks for us:
We ‘lost’ our baby a few years ago (G-dangit! Always misplacing things!). Our miscarriage grief doesn’t sit as close the surface as it did a year or two ago, but it still boils up here and there. Like yesterday, on Father’s day.
We had just gotten home from an overnight backcountry camping trip. It was a grueling hike with 40 switchbacks on the way in and 40 switchbacks on the way down. We were beat. By the time we emerged from the bumper to bumper traffic jam on the way home we were hangry and didn’t have any energy to cook. So we broke our self-imposed “no eating out this month” rule and took ourselves out for burgers.
Halfway through the meal, I realized that it was Father’s day. I didn’t forget. I knew it was Father’s day; we had just called and messaged our dads. But the day was almost done and I realized that I had forgotten about Clay.
I set my mushroom burger down and wiped mustard off my thumb. My throat closed and my eyes got heavy, almost instantly. I ate a few fries in an attempt to distract my emotions but I was already tearing up. I raised my gaze and choked out:
“Happy Father’s Day, babe”
We wept. Right there in the middle of the restaurant, 4 feet away from an older couple trying to piece tables together for their large family. It didn’t matter. We stared at each other and wept; mid-chew.
I asked him if he’d thought about ‘it’ today; the miscarriage, the baby. He had. Of course he had.
30 seconds later we transitioned out of the heaviness with the realization that people were looking at us.
“They probably think we’re crying because these burgers are so good!”
“They are! …so good!”
Belly laughs. More fries. Another bite of the burger. We shared a few more tears and then our milkshake arrived so we focused our attention on that.
Grief can be soggy napkins in the middle of a restaurant. Grief can be not thinking about your grief for weeks until you realize it’s Father’s Day and remember what that means for your husband. It can also be ordering comfort food & then bickering over who had more milkshake. Grief is in the belly laughs, and the public journal entries full of dark humor.
I love that line, “I’m not going to pretend for your comfort.” So validating and freeing and right. I don’t care how messy or dark or even how cliche the release is. Resonating with a cheesy quote. Dancing and crying at the same time. Whatever. Clay and I have a lot of grief and it spills out in awkward ways. Like occasionally crying in the middle of restaurants. We lean into whatever is cathartic even though it might make it uncomfortable for everyone else.
We’ll always celebrate this holiday whether we have flesh and bones kids or not. At the very least it’s a good reason to order fries and a milkshake.
Happy Father’s Day, Clay.