To the Widowed Mother Keeping It Together This Father’s Day

Dear widowed mother, I see you.

I see your pain and the smiles you use to cover it. I see the comfort you find in others to soften your heartaches, and I see the overpouring of love in your children that allows a distraction. I’m sure like every holiday that has come and gone since his passing, you’ve stayed up at night, overthinking how to handle the next one on the calendar. Now you’re faced with a holiday that has stopped you in your tracks… Father’s Day. Let’s face it, this is one holiday that will never be the same. I can assure you of this because I know, firsthand, how much life changes after losing such an important and significant person. I may not be able to understand your side of this because you see… I’ve never been a widow.

However, I have been the child of a widow.

My dad passed away suddenly when I was only 7. Nearly three decades later, I can still remember the details of the day he passed away. From those brief minutes that seemed like hours, my life changed, immediately, quickly, and forever. I can still smell the strong aroma of magnolias that filled the funeral home where our family and friends grieved. I was too young to fully comprehend the situation or the over-the-top attention I began receiving from everyone around me. My other memories from around the time are blurred and fuzzy. Certain events have mixed together, and special moments are misplaced in time. There is always one thing that stays strong and solid in my memory. That one thing that made every holiday still exciting and every Father’s Day bearable. The one constant thing that kept my childhood innocent and fun even after such a tragic loss.

That one thing was/is… you, the mother.

My mom’s strength and resilience were and always will be a lasting effect and memory of mine. Believe it or not, her strength to overcome such a loss became more of an impact on the growth of my well-being than the actual life event of losing my father. The older I got, the more in awe of her I became during that time in our lives. Having my own husband and children now, it’s even harder to comprehend how she mustered up that strength every day. I, honestly, don’t even know if my mother ever properly grieved. I’m sure most widows fall in the same pattern of worrying about their children who lost their father over a wife who lost a husband. I can’t imagine that frame of mind or the distractions it must take for a mother to get up to cater to her children after losing her husband. I’m not here to say I understand your loss or how hard it is to get through holidays, especially Father’s Day. But I am here to thank you. Thank you for keeping your head high. Thank you for smiling when you want to cry. Thank you for filling bigger shoes than you ever intended on wearing. Thank you for making new memories while keeping old memories alive. Thank you for every unnoticed distraction you put into play to soften our hurt. Thank you for never letting us feel alone. Thank YOU for, simply, always being there. Thank you for your unconditional love every day of the year, but especially on Father’s Day.

I know your children are still small and you often wonder if you’re doing enough. This Father’s Day, I want to assure you that you’re doing great, even if your young children don’t comprehend all your hard work and effort at the moment. In the years to come, they will see and appreciate all your strength and heart, and thank you. When their hearts should feel empty, you are the one who is always there to make sure they are always full. You are a superstar, and undeniably incredible.

Happy Father’s Day to all the moms who are going above and beyond for their children this year. You’re incredible. We thank you.

Nicole is married, mommy of 2 (Emily – 8 Talia – 5.) She’s a lifetime resident of Chalmette, with a brief 3 years in New Iberia following Hurricane Katrina. She is also an 10-year breast cancer survivor. She is Disney obsessed and was also a Disney Bride. She is trying to stay sane with juggling her busy life.

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