real life

"I don't know what it's like to have a dad, but I still want to celebrate yours on Father's Day."

Once a year a conversation ripples through the world that I can never be part of.

One involving present shopping, family in-jokes, and the creation of memories that will fill photo albums and Instagram feeds for years to come.

I'd wager that for most of the world, much like a perfectly crafted toasted sandwich, feelings around Father's Day are sliced right down the middle.


Video via Mamamia.

On one side you have people who know what it's like to have a father hold their hand when they're scared, to toss around Dad jokes and be on call for emergencies involving everything from hospital visits to stubborn IKEA flatpacks.

But on the other side of the hypothetical sandwich are the people whose eyes automatically skip the 'For Dad' section when faced with a wall of greeting cards, because maybe their father has sadly passed away and the grief blocks out everything else.

Or maybe this particular parent is still out there in the world somewhere, but now your paths no longer cross. You're left living in that strange level of limbo where their name is still written on your birth certificate but no longer saved in your phone.

This is the category I have fallen into for more than 20 years.

When I try to picture what my dad might look like now, the closest image I can conjure up in my head is a faint version of a tall man with dark hair and a blurred face, the type of figure who appears like a flash in the background of a dream, or a nondescript extra in a crowded Marvel movie scene.

He doesn't know what my favourite TV show is or what type of music I sing along to in the car. He's never read any of the stories I've written, heard my voice speed up when I get a little too passionate hosting a podcast or know the reason why I last cried.  

It's because of this that I can't really contribute to those Father's Day conversations that always emerge in the lead up to the first Sunday in September, when friends share what celebrations they have in store or even just grumble about having to spend the day with annoying siblings.

There is of course a wave of sadness that always comes with this particular date on the calendar passing by because, after all, who wouldn't mourn the loss of having that extra loved one in their corner as they go through life?

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Everyone is different, but for me, I don't want this loss to be the only focus of this day.  

I don't know what it's like to grow up with a dad, but I still want to celebrate yours on Father's Day.

"My Dad doesn't know what my favourite TV show is or what type of music I sing along to in the car. He's never read any of the stories I've written, heard my voice speed up when I get a little too passionate hosting a podcast, or know the reason why I last cried." Image: Laura Brodnik Instagram.  

So much of the world is hard and sad and unrelenting, and because of that, I actually find comfort in knowing there are dads out there, in many different forms, who deserve one of those cards I never stop to look at in the 'For Dad' section.

Only good stories will ever chase away the bad.

And when I need good stories, I think about being in the car with my high school friends and their fathers, hearing the pride in their voices as they listened to a recap of the day or safely picked us up from a party we probably shouldn't have been at.

I think of friends I grew up alongside of who now hold their own children in their arms; I think of the happiness on my sister-in-law's face as her father walked her down the aisle on my brother's wedding day, or the lengths my brother-in-law goes to when he makes my nephew burst into joyous laughter. 

I think of the dads who have carried their children to safety in treacherous spaces, who are trusted to protect their children's secrets, and the fathers whose idea of providing a safe home doesn't stop at locked doors and a solid roof. 

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I also remember a very ordinary day working in the office, glancing up from my desk to see one of my bosses spy his daughter making her way across the room swinging her school bag, his whole face lighting up when he saw her as he called out "hello sweetheart'".

I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like, to have little moments like that, to make your dad so happy by simply appearing in the room after a day apart.

There could have been a moment in time when a scene like that would have stung, but instead, I couldn't help but find it nice that a small moment like that could exist.

These are the types of stories and memories that Father's Day can bring to the surface. 

If you don't have a father in your life, then I understand how scrolling through social media on this day can incite a sharp burst of pain, to see everyone else's accounts flooded with photos, tributes and memories of a person you don't have.

If that's the case, there's no harm in turning away and protecting yourself by popping on a gory slasher movie or maybe a documentary chronicling how a female praying mantis will eat the male after mating just so she can call it a day. 

But I choose to look at Father’s Day as a time when the world can be flooded with stories about the good dads, just to remind us they are out there. 

Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram/Getty. 

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