Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

It was an early Sunday morning in our house. Domani woke up around 6am and went quickly back to sleep, but I had no such luck. I proceeded to shower, write a blog post, upload our vacation photos, and paint my toenails. It was time to leave for church and he still wasn't awake so I had to rouse him and get him dressed. He looked so cute in his new Conan shirt, a gentle reminder of his Dad who we miss dearly, especially today.

I tucked some scotch tape and one of my favorite photographs of Joe and Domani in my bag, knowing that at some point in the day I would need them both.

After a quick stop at Wawa for some coffee, a bottle of water, and a piece of marble pound cake we were on our way to church for the big Praise Band-led worship service. It was a beautiful and intensely spiritual service for me, even though there was so much on my mind since I was part of the leadership team. The most powerful moments for me were the opening prayer which I did and our offertory music selection which was composed by our band leader. I was thankful there was very little mention of Father's Day.

Mother's Day 2011 - taken by Joe
I had a quick meeting after church and then it was off to my parents for a Father's Day BBQ. It was nice to be surrounded by family and to be able to share stories from our recent trip, but it was still hard. It was tough seeing kids with their dads throughout the day, even amongst my own family. It was a constant reminder of what is missing from our life with just the two of us. My sister, her husband, and I took our kids to the park next door to my parents' house for a little while. Getting to just relax and play with the kids was a special treat and reminded me of Mother's Day last year when Joe was at that playground with us. My parents had helped Domani with a card to Joe which included a Superman pin. It was so sweet, but tugged at my heart so hard.

The day only got tougher from there. Next stop was Joe's Dad's house where we spent time with Joe's family. More dads with kids. I took a much needed break to go pick up a few cold ones to go with dinner, my own little gesture to the men there since I didn't have the foresight to think of something to bring before I arrived. It also helped me emotionally to get away for a short time.

The cross stitch from Joe's room
We ate delicious food cooked by Joe's Dad on the grill Joe had helped him put together. The kids played in the backyard. Domani seemed fascinated by the tree where the three of us had some family photos taken just after he was born. We took the kids to the park at the school nearby, a spot with sweet memories of Joe playing with the kids. Joe's Dad gave me a framed cross stitch that had hung in Joe's childhood bedroom until he had moved out of the house. I remembered what it said before he gave it to me - Skateboard Frenzy. His mom had made it for him. No wonder he kept it up there all those years. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of Domani someday displaying it in his own room and as I remembered one time in particular when Joe skateboarded in Princeton while I hurriedly walked along behind him.

All of these memories and even my crying were private. Oh, what I would have given to have been able to bring him a cold Twisted Tea and wish him a Happy Father's Day. Or to watch him play with his son, niece, and nephews in his father's backyard. Or to share in the misery of another sweep of the Mets, this time by those surging Reds (at least Greg Dulli should be happy). While there was certainly an undercurrent of sadness as we gathered this afternoon, I don't remember Joe's name being mentioned, except for maybe once or twice. I think that made it even harder for me. I have found that it's a bit of a delicate dance to know when to talk about him and when to let things be. I do my best to be honest with my own feelings and allow others the space to experience their grief in their own way. Maybe I don't always hit the nail on the head.

New Addtions - Superman pin and Domani & Dad photo
We made an attempt to join Domani's uncle and the rest of his cousins for a little fishing trip in a creek near the house, but the little guy was overtired and he was only interested in trying to go swimming so it was quick exit for us. By the time we got to the cemetery, he was asleep and I carried him in with his blankie and my purse, filled with our Father's Day goodies for Joe. I had barely walked through the front door before I started to cry. The whole fact that this was the place where I had to come if I wanted to honor Father's Day with my son was just too much. I pulled the bench right in front of his crypt so I could sit with Domani in my arms and just remember. There were lots of tears during this visit as I placed the Superman pin on the Mets flower arrangement I had placed there early in the season (replacing the Giants-themed flowers!) and taped up the photo I had chosen of Joe and Domani. I needed those tears and I'm thankful for the time I was able to spend there with my son.

The rest of our Father's Day was quiet. The little guy went to sleep soon after we got home. He is still adjusting to the time change and hadn't had a nap all day. I settled in to a typical Sunday night routine of True Blood and Girls. I wondered what Joe would have thought about the plot lines so far this season on TB and marveled at how much Adam from Girls reminds me of Joe. Tomorrow, it's back to work. I know I'll be busy, but somehow, after today, I welcome the diversion.


  1. Here is the opening prayer I used during our service. I had written it weeks ago and after our nature travels of the last week, it was especially touching to me. I also found the life and death imagery powerful today in particular:

    Creator God, You have shown us your power in making all things new – in taking the darkness and death of winter and turning it into the light and new life of spring. Your love is amazing and your promises last for all time. Your creation teaches us what it means to be made new and yet we will never fully understand. The butterfly. A garden of roses. The rising sun. May we know the lessons of your loving change deep in our hearts. Prepare us now to worship you with our whole being.

  2. I came over from Lynda's where I'm a little behind in my reading so I just got to where she had linked to this post on Father's Day. Thank you for sharing such a powerful and open post about your grief on this particular day.

    I recently started watching the series Girls--I have read so much about Joe on his mother's blog and now I feel like your comment that the character of Adam reminds you of him has placed another puzzle piece in my understanding of who Joe was.