I am surrounded by love. I have three incredible children, and even as I write this, they are busy at the table with crayons and paper, making me notes and pictures and cards. They heap love upon me, shower me with their adoration and fill my life with joy.

And yet, there is a hole. A distance.

I’m grateful for all that I have, but this is my first Father’s Day without the man who taught me how to make it.

Dad taught me how precious love is. Despite its abundance, it can be oh so scarce as well. My father knew about the scarcity of love, despite its abundance. He told me that his own father passed away without the words “I love you” ever crossing the air between them, not once. My father struggled with expressing his own love for me when I was younger; only in his later years did he break that barrier. In so doing, he taught me how much love can be a journey. Not something to take for granted, but something to cherish.

I tell my own children I love them about a thousand times an hour, and they say the same back. Those are the flowers of the seeds my father planted.

He isn’t here. I haven’t felt a day since his passing that I didn’t need him for something, didn’t miss the way problems evaporated in his presence. He heaped love upon his grandchildren as if a dam had broken; as if there had always been this boundless capacity for expression of emotion within him, and this was all he needed. The practice made him better at expressing his love for me, too – our relationship was at its absolute strongest during the last ten years when he was a grandfather and we were both fathers.

We took so much of that journey together, and now I have to go the rest of the way without him. It feels like very far to go, and it often feels lonely. But they are good, wonderful children. And he taught me good, wonderful things.

That makes me miss him more, but it also makes me know I was always in good hands. So are they.

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