Father’s Day is a chance to reflect on the importance of fatherhood in our world. To those like me whose dads have passed away, it should also be a quiet time for remembering our fathers and all they did for us. Still, as fond as my memories of my dad are, my thoughts each year on Father’s Day are invariably tinged with pain, since it also happens to be the birthday of the bear that killed and ate my late father.
Although Father’s Day is still a beautiful occasion for me, and although I still cherish it as a time to feel close to my late father, it comes annually as a reminder of the bear that mauled my helpless dad at our campsite and was coincidentally born on the very day we dedicate to fatherhood.
Every year on this day, my many good feelings about my father are inextricably mixed with anger at the bear. Ever since I watched my father die in that forest clearing inside the bear’s mouth, I can’t even think of Father’s Day without being instantly reminded of the bear that ate my father, and of the fact that this bear celebrates its birthday every year on Father’s Day. It makes me boil with rage. I hate that bear. I hate knowing that Father’s Day is a special day for it—a day of joy and revelry.
I can’t even think of Father’s Day without being instantly reminded of the bear that ate my father, and of the fact that this bear celebrates its birthday every year on Father’s Day.
I know I ought to focus on the good times I shared with my dad, rather than on the reality that Father’s Day is his killer’s birthday. But I can’t help it. Every time I remember that the bear is out in the world, celebrating its continued life, I want to ask why. Why can the murderer live while the victim’s family mourns?
My dad deserved better. He deserved to see many more birthdays for many more years to come. But each Father’s Day, it’s that horrible bear that notches another full trip ’round the sun, not my father. It’s not fair.
I’m trying to heal. I’m really trying. But this Father’s Day was as difficult as last Father’s Day, and the Father’s Day before that. I suspect that when this holiday comes around next year, my feelings about it will be as complicated as ever. Somewhere, that bear is having a birthday party. All I ask is compassion and understanding as I try to forget how happy it must be at this moment.