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If You've Lost Your Dad, Speak Up This Father's Day

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A photo of my father and me when I was just slightly less mature than I am now.

Almost a hundred months ago my brother and I tried to wake our father up.

We couldn't, so the ambulance came to take him and we sat on a bench outside our apartment building and watched it drive away.

We said nothing, waiting for a relative to pick us up. My brother, 14 at the time, tried to break the silence and asked me a few questions. The one that stung the most is the only one I remember:

"What are we going to do?"

Hours later, in a room with one black leather couch and ugly fluorescent lighting that seemed to have been purposely designed for delivering horrible news, we were told our father had died.

Losing your father is much more than a sudden emotional blow. It is the slow crumbling of any solid ground to stand on, a virus that dines on your confidence as you age.

We left that wretched place and were told to wait on some seats outside, where grown men -- friends of my father -- bawled their eyes out. The sight and sound of men in their 50s wailing loudly is a surreal spectacle to witness as a teenager.

My brother asked again. "What are we going to do?"

A hundred months later, after we both moved to another continent to study and work in the same industry as our father, that question lingers. With every remotely important decision I make in my career or personal life, it pops up again with renewed intensity.

Losing your father is much more than a sudden emotional blow. It is the slow crumbling of any solid ground to stand on, a virus that dines on your confidence as you age.

It is a perpetual state of wondering whether you can live up to his legacy while feeling like you are burying it in the dirt. You lack access to his institutional knowledge, and so you attempt to move forward praying you are not the black stain on his branch of the family tree.

Every Father's Day, as social media gets flooded with lovely tributes to fathers around the world, that feeling hits an ugly zenith, mutating wildly between anger, loneliness and jealousy.

And every Father's Day, as social media gets flooded with lovely tributes to fathers around the world, that feeling hits an ugly zenith, mutating wildly between anger, loneliness and jealousy.

Why should their father get to see them graduate when mine did not?

Why should their father get to see them married when mine will not?

Why should their father get to celebrate his 60th birthday when mine could not?

Why, why, why, and so on.

These are all dumb and petty thoughts. There is no logic in getting angry or sad because a stranger on the Internet wrote nice words on social media about his or her father.

But in each of those posts that I'll see flooding my social feeds on June 19 is a reminder of his passing and of my inability -- after eight years -- to process or come to terms with it.

Some people use Father's Day to share some kind of tribute to their late father. Others, like myself, constantly write and edit it in our heads before scrapping it due to an idiotic fear of appearing to be pandering for sympathy or ruining someone's day by bringing up the dead.

But this year, maybe because enough time has passed or maybe because my emotional intelligence has finally surpassed that of a sixth grader, I decided to write about that bench and those wretched lights and to revisit the day I buried my father with my own hands.

If you've lost your dad, talk and write about him, especially on Father's Day... If doing so makes one person appreciate their father just a bit more, then your words are already worth it.

It's painful, but there is a strange catharsis in taking thoughts that have grown moldy and exorcising them through writing. An idea graduates or matures when it is taken from your head and organized somewhat neatly into sentences. In the case of grieving over your father, it helps add some logic and, to a lesser extent, some closure. It's shown me just how far I've been able to come -- thanks to my family's support -- despite feeling like every move I made was one my father wouldn't.

mos dad

My father had a glorious moustache. I pray that I am able to replicate it someday.

If you've lost your dad, talk and write about him, especially on Father's Day. With yourself, with your friends, with your family. If doing so makes one person appreciate their father just a bit more, then your words are already worth it.

Shout his story at the top of your lungs.

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