Father’s Day can never be the same.
Father’s Day was just around the corner; this was going to be the fifth Father’s day where I would both celebrate my father and my being a father. In the short time I had spent in this window of being both a father and a son I had learned so very much. My son had taught me that the world was so much bigger than me, he had made me a better man. Being a father had also offered me the perspective and appreciation for many of the things my father had done for me when I was little.
Noah had been preparing for Father’s day and had painted and decorated a birdhouse in preparation of the day. He and I talked about it and we were going to give this birdhouse to my father for Father’s day. I felt that this would be the perfect marrying of my being a son and my being a father. He and I were both happy about this choice.
There were so many things like the birdhouse that made me feel successful as a father. There was the Kiddie pool we had purchased, one of the those that are about 18 inches deep and 6 feet across and set it up in the front yard. With a lot of coxing from a very persistent four year old I got into the pool with him and we splashed around in the front yard together and had a blast.
When we had purchased our home it was winter and there was a bare, ugly tree in the front yard, my wife and I had decided we were going to cut it down. Noah overheard us say this and threw himself at the tree, begging us to not cut down his tree. I was so moved by the passion of our small tree hugger that I left the tree alone. As it turned out Noah knew best and in the spring this thirty-foot weeping cherry was the most beautiful tree in the neighborhood. I sometimes wonder what the neighbors would have thought of us if we had cut it down.
It was ten days before father’s day when Noah has an adenoids and tonsils surgery. Three days following the surgery he hemorrhaged at home and died before the ambulances arrived.
I spent the next few days in a daze of paper work, decisions about a funeral, comforting friends and family. On the Saturday after his funeral I realized that the next day had been set aside to honor and celebrate fathers. I had done this with Noah for four years and each year was proud of the things like the pool and the tree. But this particular year I was haunted by one thought…”Am I still a father?” I was not sure and this terrified me. I was so torn up inside, Noah was my only child, suddenly all the things that had reassured me that I was a good father were no more. It didn’t matter that I played in a kiddie pool or saved his tree. When he needed me the most I was not able to save him. My tears were now of sorrow not fatherly pride. I felt strongly that I no longer deserved to be a part of a holiday set aside to praise fathers.
The next morning, Father’s day I came across the birdhouse, the one that Noah and I had planned to give my father that father’s day. I looked at the designs he had so carefully painted. The colors flowed together in a messy rainbow of brightness. I cried and as I held that birdhouse the answer to my question came crashing down. I AM A FATHER!! I actually screamed it over and over to the universe and to myself “I am a Father, I am a Father, I AM A FATHER.”
I decided I was going to gift that birdhouse to me, It would be the last physical present I would ever get from my son, but I knew in that moment, I knew I am and always be Noah’s Father.
This year will be the 14th Father’s Day without my son and each year the pain of that first year is still there but now there is a joy. I continue to receive gifts from Noah on Father’s day and every day. They are the gifts of memories, I see a weeping cherry and feel the pull to wrap my arms around it or when passing children in a kiddie pool I hear him urging me to get in. I now have two other boys that I can physically hold this father’s day but I am a Father of three and always will be.
I Love you Noah thank you for 17 Wonderful Fathers Day’s