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Father's Day

To My Dad, On My First Father’s Day Without You

gersch_dad

I was born in the earliest hours of a Monday morning, one hour and 13 minutes after Father’s Day.

You always told me I was a late Father’s Day present.

And now I’m about to mark my first Father’s Day without you.

You’ve been gone for over nine months—the same nine months that baby Izzy, named in your memory, has been with us. I’ve gone to say Kaddish for you nearly every day. With less than two months to go, I’m so very ready to leave the confines of the mechitza, the early morning wake-ups. But I’m scared that we’ll forget each other. With every Kaddish I’m pushing you up towards heaven, even as I try to tether you to me, keep you in my earthly memory. I’m not quite ready to stop our daily meetings.

READ: Missing My Father on Father’s Day…Even Though He’s Here

It’s been a hard year. Your death, followed by a series of additional blows to our community and our family. Not to mention the terrifying rise of anti-Semitism around the world, which scares me in way I can’t even articulate. I wish that I could come to you for reassurance, advice, an informed opinion. You were always so optimistic about the fate of the world: why? What did you know that I don’t?

I can’t ask anymore, and so I try to find my answers in your story. Your calm, your resilience in the face of life’s challenges large and small. You were born in the Depression, lost your dad when you were only 7, were betrayed and divorced after 18 years of marriage to your college sweetheart. Disastrous blows all. And yet you took care of your family, achieved amazing things professionally, and found happiness again—lasting love—just when it seemed most elusive. Whenever I worry that my life will never be full of carefree joy again, I think about your magnificent second act.

This year has had its hidden blessings. I can see you so clearly in my children. My eldest’s love of math and reading. My middle son’s new love of engineering, which began in the week after you died, as if a spirit had come over him—just last month he built a battery! The baby’s love of yummy food. And Dad, we never realized—they’re all the spitting image of you as a child! How could we have missed it?

READ: Dear Gefilte: How Do I Make Sense of My Father’s Death?

And so Father’s Day approaches. This year I won’t be sending you the latest 800-page presidential biography or a touching card. No gift certificates for your favorite coffee and donuts. Instead, I’ll wake up early, as I do every Sunday, and spend a few minutes with you in shul.

Before it’s time to go.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

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