Not so long ago the father of the wife of one of Jack's friends died. At the time I didn't know her that well, our husbands were friends but she and I had only been together a few times. Like me she is the mother of twins and like me, she lost her father far too early in her life, and in his. Holding the hands of her children she followed her father's casket out of the church, and from the back row, with a squiggly two year old on my lap, I cried. The ache was overwhelming, and for a quick moment I was so grateful to be me, sitting with my daughter and watching, not walking behind my father's casket. It took more than a minute for me to understand why the pain was so familiar, and so deep; this had been me, three years before, not watching but walking.
The next day I emailed her husband, finding myself on the other side of that grief was cathartic, and I wanted to let her know that someday she would find that place, unthinkable as it may seem. She may be there, I haven't asked, it takes time. But I think of her on Father's Day, and of Jeffy and Peter and Ed, of Karen and Colby, of my cousins and my sister, of all of us who have lost a dad too early for it to make any sense at all.
Jack gives me a reason to celebrate Father's Day, he's a good dad whose daughters adore him, as do I. Their jubilation when he walks in at the end of the day reminds me just how important a dad can be, and how very lucky I was to have the kind of dad who made me run to the back door when I heard his car in the driveway. That part of our story makes living with the grief a little bit easier, and allows me to celebrate Father's Day as I know Dad would have liked, with his grandchildren and their father, celebrating all dads, including my friend's dad, one I never met but who taught me that there is a happy father's day to be found on the other side of darkness.