When your family looks different than a Hallmark movie, the Hallmark holidays can sting.
I purposely avoid the aisles around Father’s Day and am secretly thankful the day falls over the summer to avoid another awkward school project.
I’ve learned with loss when things feel good, they feel oh so good, and when life is terrible, every little holiday, event, or movie scene can feel like a personal attack on your life and all that is missing.
This year caught me off guard, maybe it was the sweet taste of my almond milk latte or the distraction of the dollar section, but when my little shopping partner quickly grabbed a bright blue cookie with a #1 Dad scripted in white icing and held it up to my face, I wasn’t ready.
“Oh, we should get this for Mr. Chris!” she excitedly tossed the cookie in the cart and moved on to the next section.
My heart equally burst and broke as I realized she’s never given a Father’s Day gift, and she was seeing this new guy in our life in that light; it was sweet, sentimental, and stung.
Her skip ahead slowed, and she returned to the cart to stare at the cookie.
“I feel kinda bad,” she whispered, “I feel like it’ll make daddy in heaven sad.”
Before I could get out another word, she took the cookie out and headed back, yelling to me, “I’m going to look and see if they have a #2 Dad! That’ll be perfect!”
I let her dig around through the pile of perfectly wrapped cookies, knowing full well that our perfectly imperfect family wasn’t going to line the cookie aisle this time.
I stooped down to my girl and told her we could make our own #2 on the cookie at home and not to worry, Mr. Chris will love it, and daddy in heaven will too.
She buried her head in my leg, and we stood in the middle of the store in tears.
At home, we unloaded our Target treasures, and as she skipped back to her room, I quickly told the story to Mr. Chris so he’d understand the #2 wasn’t a reflection of his efforts, but more in order of introductions.
He smiled when she handed him the cookie and said, “Sorry, they didn’t have a #2 Dad, we looked,” she was so proud.
“I love being your #2 dad,” he said as he hugged her.
A little girl who never knew her dad, a #2 dad learning the ropes, and a mom in a puddle of emotion- walk into the kitchen- and shared a cookie, and somehow all their broken parts fit together.