Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day Without My Father

Well, it's Father's Day. I have missed Dad a lot today.

"Missing" turns out to be a rather precise term. He is not in any "place" in this world that I can go to, or call, or even find on a map. He's not puttering around the condo in Arlington, or in his wheelchair at Greenfield. He's not "around" in any kind of empirical way.

"Where" is he?

I know he lives. He walked with Jesus in the Church, faithfully, in this world; and thus we have entrusted him to God in the hope of eternal life. He lives in God's love, whether in the fullness of beatitude or in that final mysterious passage of preparation and purification which most of us will need - the "bridge" between death and glory known as purgatory.

In any case, the relationship continues, and there are "signs" of its ongoing significance. They pertain especially to the concreteness of the Church, the bond that unites us in Christ's body, the Eucharistic liturgy, the prayers for his eternal rest and also the confidence we place in his prayers on our behalf and the fruits of his labors from all his years of earthly life.

There is real, meaningful consolation here. But it stretches us beyond the horizon of this world. It's not a trick that somehow "brings him back" to us. On the contrary, it only makes it clearer that the journey of this life means so much more that what we think we can control within the narrowness of our own interpretations.

Then there are all the memories, so many more than I realized I had. There is much to reminisce about, but memories also pop up surprisingly, evoking unexpected emotions that I don't understand.

It's like the memories have acquired a new dimension, demanding to be seen in a new way. The memories seem "restless," sometimes, as though there are aspects of them that I have not yet noticed, or resolved, or appreciated.

I do believe that my father loved me more than I ever knew. How little I appreciated that love. Here, even more than in the "missing" of him, I find a kind of sorrow. It's a sorrow that draws me to seek forgiveness from him, and from God whose gift he was, irreplaceably, in my life.

I guess this is part of grief, this sorting of memories, with a more vivid and poignant awareness of the need for forgiveness.