The Corner

Dads

Remember that courtroom scene in Big Daddy where everybody gets choked up about their fathers? Well, my email box is a bit like that today. I’m not being dismissive. It’s all very moving. Thanks for all the nice notes. Here are a few:

Jonah,

I’m sure you’ll hear from lots of folks, who, like me, also miss their dads. I got thosefloods of emotion for about three years after he died and even now (ten years later) sometimes.

My major professor told me after his wife died: “You don’t get over it; you just get used to it.” I think that’s right. I also think that being a father makes you miss your own. Knowing how much you love your little one, you realize how much you were loved. That recognition is enough to break any man’s heart.

Happy Father’s Day to you.

And:

Thanks for the post “Remembering Papa G”. My father passed away almost 13

years ago when I was 27 and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him,

usually a memory that brings a smile to my face. But you are right: every

now then, just out of the blue, something triggers overwhelming emotions.

Just the other day I was playing with my youngest (20 months), when I

teared up thinking, “man, I wish my father could see him”. As am I right

now writing this.

Sincerely,

[Name withheld]

P.S. I bet that’s the fourth time I’ve read “The Hop Bird”. Your father

must have been a wonderful man.

And

Jonah:

It will be 11 years in August since I lost my dad.

The emotions you describe do seem to come out of nowhere sometimes and you are never prepared. Indeed grief never goes away.

Thanks for sharing

[Name withheld]

And

Hi Jonah, Nice post about your father. I can relate, the grief goes away but the emotions don’t and I hope they never will. Mine comes every year for the Auburn/Bama game. Dad was a Tiger and it was the last thing we did together, 30 years ago.

And:

Jonah,

I’m a regular reader of NRO, but only very rarely send my thoughts in. But your post on dealing with the loss of your father and the flood of grief really hit home with me.

I’m a 39 year old regular guy with 2 wonderful kids, 7 and 4. I have a better life than most and definitely appreciate that. However, in November 2005, I lost my beautiful wife of 9 years to a brutal bout with lung cancer (non-smoker, btw). In July ’05, the world was terrific. The day after Thanksgiving, she was gone.

We’ve gone on, as we all must when faced with such situations.

But your expression of how the emotions surge was spot on. My own description is that there is an underground river raging below the surface of everyday life. After a while, you feel like you have “dealt” with your grief. Maybe even a spot of guilt over being “better”. Then, an event, a song, an old card, something, triggers it. And WHAM, it can knock you to your knees.

Time does help, but I’ve come to understand it does not “heal”. You will always grieve the loss of your father as I do my wife. But you learn to give yourself outlets. As difficult as Father’s Day is for you, it is a chance to step back, take in the grief, feel the underlying emotions, and process it in a healthy manner. For me, it’s Mother’s Day (especially with the impact on the kids) and our wedding anniversary.

Anyway, as I said, you post touched me, so I wanted to tell you that. No two losses, no two grieving processes are the same, but there is definitely a shared experience in many ways.

My best to you this weekend and always,

[Name withheld]

Ps: Btw, I’m fortunate enough to be dating a wonderful woman now – something I honestly did not think would be possible not so long ago. But that does not circumvent the process either.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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