To most, Father’s Day is a day to celebrate their dad and show appreciation for his part in their life. From my experience, this is typically done through tacky (or not so tacky) Hallmark cards, barbeques, and some far-fetched gift only a dad could really need or want.  But for some, Father’s Day is just another holiday, spent without a father.

For a few years after my father died I was extremely bitter. I was jealous (rightfully so) of those who had their dads there to celebrate this day in person. I would scroll through social media, viewing countless posts of fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and family pictures, each with a caption sharing how thankful for their dad, how they had “the worlds best dad” and how they don’t know what they would do without them. Well, there I was, doing (for the most part) alright, without a dad.

For a while, that is how I viewed myself, labeling myself as someone without a dad and this only made holidays that much harder. But after coming to terms with some of my grief around this loss, I realized that I was actually completely wrong. I did have a dad, because without one I would not be here. I had a dad for 13 years, and I wasn’t going to discount a single one. Just because I couldn’t shower my dad with tacky cards and gifts didn’t mean I couldn’t celebrate and enjoy Father’s day. Just because I didn’t have any recent pictures to post and brag about how awesome my dad was, didn’t mean I didn’t have a kick ass dad who I could brag about. Because I did have a dad, and I still do. Just because he can’t be with me to celebrate my birthday, high school graduation, father’s day, or whatever it may be, does not mean I can’t celebrate it and enjoy it, because I know he is always with me, celebrating every accomplishment and milestone, pushing me through every set back and sending me love always.

Father’s Day to me is still a celebration of my dad. And while it may not be celebrating his latest job promotion or how much he does to support me and my family, it gives me another excuse (as if I couldn’t find one every single day) to appreciate his life, what he taught me and left me with, and to be thankful that I was lucky enough to spend 13 years of my life with him.

Don’t get me wrong, you have every right to be sad and to grieve such a loss on such a special day, because it sucks not having a dad for any day of the week or month or year. But if you can, try to take this day, or any day, to remember your dad in a way that empowers you, makes you smile or laugh, and appreciate the time you had while you had it. Nobody can take away the pain, but nobody can take away the love that you have for your father, and the love that he has for you. Look through old pictures, eat his favorite foods (for us it means choking down KFC), listen to his old CD’s (that’s Grateful Dead in our home which our dad loved), and celebrate the hell out of Father’s Day. That’s what my dad would want me to do.

by Alena Volz