a {tardy} father’s day letter

Dear Cortney,

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Almost four years ago you became a dad.  You were sort of nervous, if I remember correctly.  Although I was sort of preoccupied at the time, so I hope you’ll forgive my lapse in memory.

Listen, I know.  Father’s Day sucks for you.  I has for almost eight years now.

Father’s Day 2005 was the last time you celebrated your dad while he was with us.  We had been married less than 24 hours and it was pretty emotional since we all knew it was his last one.

After we opened our wedding gifts, we celebrated Father’s Day.  I know it was awkward.  Your mom and stepdad were there as were all my siblings and my parents.  Not exactly a nice, intimate way to have your last Father’s Day with your dad.  I’ve always felt bad about that.

The next three Father’s Days were meh.  We celebrated my dad and your stepdad, but there was always something hanging in the air.  Something big and ugly, while at the same time there was something missing.  A big hole.  It was all just…wrong.  Icky.

Then you became a dad.

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And you were amazing.

You didn’t always know what to do, but you always did what was best.

But Father’s Day still had a lump of ugly.  I tried, babe.  I really did.  I didn’t want you to forget your dad, but I wanted you to feel celebrated.  I know I failed in lots of ways.  Some of that was because I tried to force conversation about your dad.  Other times I was sick and depressed and your day sucked because my brain sucked.  And sometimes I just wanted too much out of the day.  I wanted more than you wanted.

Of course, you became a daddy all over again last year.

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You were much more ready this time.  Much calmer.  You even joked and laughed with the docs and nurses during my surgery.

You still didn’t always know what you were doing, but you did know that it was Ok to not have all the answers.  That everything…and everyone…would be Ok.

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Again you were amazing.

I think Father’s Day got better last year.  I am not really sure why–whether it’s because I am in a better place or because time helps us know each other’s needs better or because I just listened better.  I don’t know.

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What I do know is this…I wish Father’s Day didn’t have to have that piece of suck stuck to it.  I know that won’t ever go away.  It’s hard to watch you smile through the pain.  I know you LOVE being a dad. I also know the biggest hurt in your heart is that your dad isn’t here to see and experience your being a dad.

I know that today, while you loved having Charlie wake you up, having Eddie and I pull in with Starbucks for you, getting gifts that your sons thought of on their own, and having Eddie yell HAPPY…what day mom? FATHER’S DAY, DADDY!

I know you love that Eddie announced he wanted to get you a Flash T-shirt and even though I told him I didn’t think that they would have that at Target, they did.  And Eddie has said, “I told you, mom” about a thousand times since we bought it on Thursday.

But I also know that every time the boys make you smile, something hurts in your heart at the same damn time.

You have no idea how I wish I could make that go away.

I don’t want you to forget your dad…I want him to be here with you.

I know that is impossible, but I am sick of it being impossible.  I am sick of the one thing that I want to gift you to be out of reach.

I am sick of saying “He sees you. He knows.” And I am sick of you having to nod and be Ok with that even though you will never be Ok with that.

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Mostly I am sick of seeing the sadness in the smile.

There should never be sadness in a smile.

I know the sadness will always be there and even though I rage against it because I can’t change it for you…even though I give God stink-eye from time to time, I know too that even though there is sadness, there will also always be the smile.

I strive to make sure there is always a smile in front of the sadness.

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Even if that smile is totally forced because our life is crazy…and our kids crazier.

I love you, Cortney.

I hope the boys and I did a good job of making you smile yesterday.

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About Katie Sluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Katie, you are a good wife and soulmate to your Cort. And the boys.
    How could one not smile?
    Beautiful letter.

  2. Way to go and make me cry. This was a beautiful letter…mothers day is hard forme too but being a mom makes it better because I can focus on them…and Kate u r so amazing to cort and the boys..and I know Corts dad is smiling down on all of u…sending lots of hugs ur guys way!!

  3. Very, very sweet, Katie! You have a beautiful family, and the suck is lessened so much by your love for each other. Happy Father’s Day, Cort!

  4. Lovely. Heartbreaking. And you are clearly amazing (as is your husband).

  5. I get what he’s going through. And it is oh so hard. And you are doing everything you can. He and knows and appreciates it. I promise.

  6. Y’all are so cute, first off.

    I am so sorry Father’s Day is hard for him and all of you for that matter. I hope that it can get a little better each year as your boys get older but I know that feeling will always linger in some way. Much love to your and Cortney.

    xoxo

    • After I posted this, Cortney and I talked about it and he said that Father’s Day definitely gets easier each year. This year Eddie chose his gift and was excited about it…that did something for Cort. Years past was just me saying it was from little kids who had no idea what was going on, but this year…this year Eddie proudly gave him things HE chose.

  7. Katie, I read this on my phone earlier today on a rare break at work and I couldn’t comment so I had to come back. Your love for Cortney and the amazing father he is just shines through your words. I hope, that as the years pass Father’s Day will get easier and the good memories of Cortney’s dad will linger and make all of you smile.

    • Aw, thank you for coming back, Susi. It’s hard to write about because I can only tell this from my perception, ya know? And after the fact, Cort and I talked about it and he said he loved the post and that yes, it was getting easier. He misses his dad, but this year–for the first time–he saw the joy on Eddie’s face of giving him a gift HE chose for his daddy. It was pretty cool to watch.

  8. This is a really beautiful ode to your guy, and his story. I love that your kids will have this slice at their fingertips when they’re older.

  9. Oh that’s hard. This was a beautiful tribute though – to both dad and grand-dad.

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