Father’s Day Question: Where’s Dad?

Last Sunday was Father’s Day. Cole and I have traveled over each Father’s Day since Joe died. We were in Italy the first year, Alaska the second, and Ireland the third. This is the first year we were home instead of being away. I was going to write a post last Sunday, but after a dinner out where the waitress asked us three times “where dad was,” I wasn’t in the mood. I was less annoyed by her than by myself for not looking at her and saying, “He died.” and by the fact that I sometimes wondered the same thing…..

Sixteen has started off being an introspective year for Cole. While he used to accept his dad as his guardian angel easily and feel his constant presence in his life, he now wants proof. While I easily talk to Joe, Cole says his dad never answers when he talks to him, and the only voice he hears is his own, “My dad never talks back to me.” These words break my heart. I rage at Joe and insist he try harder to reach Cole, and yet, I know that right now Cole is supposed to question, doubt, and see the world with skepticism. I’m suppose to “hear” for both of us.

Cole’s quest for stories about his dad is unquenchable. Joe died while Cole still idealized him, and now that Cole is ready for a real relationship and conversations about real things, his dad isn’t here to answer his questions. He is afraid of forgetting his dad before he connects pieces of himself with his dad. Together, we hunt and gather those pieces from what we remember and combine them with the stories about Joe that others share with us.

Doubt and questioning is a big part of our world. Cole asked me if I thought it was possible that when you died, it was simply over, done, or finished. He suggested that perhaps we only make up an afterlife to take away our fear of dying. I wanted to tell him that I believe the streets of heaven are paved with gold and that an angel chorus, along with all those that we had loved and lost, will greet us at heaven’s gates. Instead, I said, “‘I don’t know.” Cole was reassured by my answer and agreed that none of us know for certain; we went on to discuss the possibilities. “I don’t know,” is a powerful answer.

Low level listening crept in as Cole explained to me, “Empty space is the primary weight of the universe.” He would have lost me all together if I were not jolted back into his world when he said, “This eliminates the need for God or a Creator.” I asked him if he believed in God, and he said he wasn’t sure. He was certain he did not believe in a God that insisted on one way of thinking or one set of beliefs. He believes that if there is a God, he is more interested in forgiveness than in vengeance. He went on to tell me, “It’s hard to forgive people who leave you even when it’s not their fault.” Indeed, it is. I pulled out one of his dad’s and my favorite books, “The Disappearance of the Universe,” and gave it to him. The margins are covered with Joe’s notes, and passages are highlighted. I’m not sure if Cole is ready to read it, but I suspect if he does not pick it up for more than a glance someday soon it will fall off his closet shelf and hit him soundly in the head.

Perhaps what I really should have said to our insensitive waitress on Father’s Day is, “What do you mean, ‘where is dad?’ Can’t you see him? Please add an extra place setting and bring the man a Martini. It’s Father’s Day.”

Fear Binds the World. Forgiveness Sets it Free ~

P.S.: I love this book!

30 thoughts on “Father’s Day Question: Where’s Dad?

  1. I don’t know either, but pray Cole finds his answers. As always, beautifully done Katybeth, THANK YOU!

  2. Oh Katybeth, what a lovely post and what an insightful mother you are.

    Joe may not talk back to Cole, but he talks through him. So do you. That young man is going to be just fine.

  3. I keep offereing to tell Cole some stories about Joe but Katybeth won’t let me! Only kidding, Joe and I had an unusual relationship. We were both strong minded and neither of us was shy about sharing our opinion. However, as I often reminded him, I was almost the perfect Mother-in-law, I didn’t come often and I never stayed long, and I cooked while I was there!!!! LOL

  4. Kb, this is so poignant! While I appreciate your “I don’t know” about Heaven, I can’t agree. I firmly believe in the afterlife (and yes, take great comfort from that!). Domer, too, has had years of “practice” wondering “where’s Dad?” on holidays, etc. It’s not the same thing Cole has faced (is facing), but in many ways it might be even harder. I try to be sensitive, but as you know, it’s not easy being Mom and Dad to a smart, sensitive, talented son! Hang in there, and I’m sure Cole will find his way!

  5. Katybeth,

    I am sure you know of me , but you don’t really know me. I love what you wrote. I have the greatest memories of Joe….Me, him and Tooch had countless great times. The picture of Joe and Cole is priceless…..God Bless you and Cole and carry on.

    • Hi Ray!
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I hope someday you will have a chance to share some of those memories with Cole.

      God Bless and Carry On—I like that 😀

  6. What a lovely and thought provoking post. I do believe in the afterlife and heaven though i do not think that I have the mind to wrap around what it might actually be like and I quite honestly do not dwell on that. What I do dwell on is my life here and now and what I am doing daily to honor God—your Cole has so much life ahead of him and of course he wants to share it with his dad. How could he not? But your openness and willingness to share honestly with him is what is going to get you both through those difficult times. Thanks for sharing from the heart today, Katybeth. I loved it.

    • Thanks Beth. I feel like it’s less lonely to struggle with someone than alone. As long as we keep talking I feel like every thing will be ok. . .and while it is painful to see my son struggle it is very rewarding to watch him puzzle, question and seek out his own answers. And like you I believe we can’t go wrong by living a spiritual life in the hear and now.

  7. I’m actually annoy by that waitress, obviously if dad wasn’t there at the table, there’s a good reason behind it. He might be away travelling, he passes away, etc… why even dwell and give a reminder that dad wasn’t present? Oy.. some people!
    Although there are times I have my doubts, I believe in the afterlife, please share this story with Cole:
    I was in the waiting room for Kalia speech evaluation, a lady kept on looking at me, finally she approach me and introduce herself. Strangely she asked me to keep an open mind about what she was going to say. She told me things that I have no clue how she would be able to find out! She told me about my hopeless feelings for Kalia and also my husband’s sadness and frustration. I asked her how she knows all that? She told me my guardian angel told her and also assure me that my guardian angel will look after me. She’s then goes on describing who that was, male, regular build, she describe his hairstyle, height and glasses. A thought running in my brains, I’m thinking that I have never meet this man in person, but it sounded like my grandfather – my mom’s dad. He pass away before I was even born. The lady then continue by saying, “Oh he told me he’s your grandfather.” I feel like my heart dropped and I just started crying….
    That lady have no reason to lie to me and she also have no way of knowing all that specific detail of what I go through especially an exact description of my grandpa.

    • What a lovely story Sendi. The universe (or God) provided you with exactly what you needed an angel in a human form to reassure you that all would be well.

  8. I’m sorry but I don’t get it. Why would you tell your son that you “don’t know” if there is an after life. That must have been very painful for him to have you say “you don’t know.” I’m sure he would have taken great comfort in believing that his dad will be there to greet him when the time is right for him to cross over with open and loving arms. Don’t you have any religion at all in your life?
    I feel sorry for you boy.

    • Hi Phyllis,
      No we do not have any “religion” in our lives if you are asking if we are a church going, bible reading family. We are spiritual and do our best to live in away that reflects our spirituality. Cole asked me a valid question and by saying, “I don’t know” I allowed room for us to explore all the different things an afterlife may or may not offer. This works for our family. If Cole were 5 I’m sure my answer would have been different but he is 16 and isn’t satisfied with the simple short answer,”your dad will be standing at the pearly gates to meet and greet you someday.” He did not ask the question to be reassured he asked the question so we could discuss the possibilities together.
      Thank you for your thoughts and sentiments.

  9. The bible is the best place for you and your son to find answers. Find a good bible group and they can help you understand and regain your faith in Our Heavenly Father.

  10. I admire your ability to be kind to people that aren’t. Whatever you feel and how you express it is God’s way of leading you through life, Katybeth. You and Cole are doing just fine, and I assure you, everything will work out for you both in finding the answers you seek. 🙂

    • Thanks Carol–I appreciate those words from someone who raised a wonderful daughter and son both of whom think the world of their mother!

  11. Phyllis, your comment annoyed me. As Cole’s Grandmother, let me assure you my Grandson is the most self sufficent and confident young man you’ll ever meet. My daughter is doing a fantastic job raising him and they have a beautiful relationship. I only hope if you have children, they feel half as close and want to be with you half as much as Cole does his Mom. You feeling sorry for him is completely out of line. Trust me, there’s no need!
    Let’s face it, if we are to be honest, NO ONE knows for sure if there is a life after death, NO ONE. So why should Katybeth have lied and said, sure there was. Of course we’d all like to believe in a Heaven. But, we don’t know FOR SURE.

  12. I’ve just had a birthday Margarita so if this is out of line blame it on the Tequila. I just read Sendi’s comments on my news feed and I thought I would add my two cents.

    Phyllis, I was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic home and as an adult I converted to a “loose Christian” as Katybeth might say. I’ve spent years in the bible studies you suggest Katybeth should explore and I do love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart I know only because it’s been revealed to me that there is a heaven and I hope to spend all eternity with all the angels and saints of God in paradise, someday when I’m called home. However Phyllis, some people like my daughter for instance, who was also raised in a traditional Christian home, went to Evangelical grammar school from 4th to 8th, Catholic high school, Catholic College, but she does not share my opinions of life after death and a resurrected body. She sings in Gospel choirs for entertainment but just doesn’t make the connection you expect from Katybeth and Cole. My daughter has grown into a non religious young woman and believe me she knows her bible front and back and for the life of me I can never stump her on even one verse. Yet she no longer believes in the doctrine that you and I profess. My husband and I, stand back and say she is an adult and must come freely to the throne. You cannot and I believe we should not ever tell people what they should and shouldn’t do especially with religion. (Politics maybe) LOL

    I think Katybeth’s answer was spot on because she said exactly what she felt. My answers to my daughter were spot on because it’s exactly what I felt. My daughter I believe has strong morals and values and most importantly she does not judge. She accepts everyones spiritual journey and this is how it should be.

    Phyllis without trying to offend you, I think perhaps it would be a good idea to reconsider how you witness to a non-believer of Jesus Christ, because my friend your harsh words are not the ones expressed by The Master. We are taught by the great apostle Paul to lift up one another’s burdens. Can’t you hear by this expressive writing how terribly difficult it is to see your son without his Father on Father’s Day? I personally was cringing the night before Father’s Day just thinking about how Katybeth and Cole would or could proceed with their day. There are no words for their suffering, for their loss and I just wish you would consider that before advising people to read the bible.

    I wish you the Peace of Christ Phyllis and I pray next time you will craft a more inviting way of witnessing about Christianity.

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