My dad died twenty-five years ago next month, and so I have been without someone to wish a "happy Father's Day" to in person almost as long as I had someone to wish that to, which is a very strange thought, since every passing year I feel more and more his son.
For all those missing their fathers, here is a bit of what I take to be wisdom from my cousin Scott, who once said, in a conversation about both of our (even then, long-dead) fathers, "it feels like he could walk into the room right now and it would be just like it was before." That's the sense of my dad for me too: a palpable presence, one of several, just behind the veil of the everyday; and that presence is too profoundly grooved in my world and my mind and my spirit to fade, so that if he were to walk onto the deck where I am writing this now, and sit down in a deck chair beside me, it would not seem strange. Likewise for my mom, who died fifteen years ago, and now I can say the same is true to me about my beloved cousin Scott, who died just over five years ago. And the grief of death trundles on: I wrote a version of this thought to children of a friend of mine who died, utterly unexpectedly, only two weeks ago.
Now that I am a father I realize that much of my happiness rests simply in the sheer presence in the world of my children, and the many antics they get up to in it, and in the blessed presence of my partner and my friends; and this knowledge counterpoints and complicates, in a good way, my grief at missing my dad, for I know that he would be delighted just to know I'm still around and being Chuck. And I think the same is true of my mom.
I don't think social media is a very good place for sincerity, but for anyone particularly missing a loved father, or father-figure, or just good friend today—and all our absences are particular, distinctive, and idiosyncratic, in the granularity of their griefs—I would say you should know that, for them, your life was and is a great blessing, indeed the greatest blessing that their lives bestowed upon them; and your best gift to them is your most vivid presence in the world, even when they are visibly absent from it. Just know how deeply, deeply pleased they would be with you. Feel a little bit of their delight, at least, at the gift of yourself in the world, today.