By: Keith D. Lewis, Full Circle Suicide Loss Group Participant

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Daniel or see him in my mannerisms or hear him in my words. So much so that I wonder if I thought about him this much when he was living.

Holidays are different now because my thoughts are about what he would be doing or saying if he were here. Daniel died in August of 2019, and while this will be the second Father’s Day without him it will seem like the first. Because of the pandemic, last year was just another day. We did not have the usual family gathering to celebrate, so it wasn’t too bad of a day. I am not sure what to expect this year since most of us that would be together have been vaccinated.

My experience has been that the anticipation leading up to a special day is usually worse than the day itself. Holidays, his birthday, the day he died, and special dates in his or our lives are tough. For years, our celebration of Father’s Day centered around a meal. Either just the 3 of us or with some other family members. If he was working on Father’s Day or any holiday, there would be a phone call or text message from him. I miss those!

There is one Father’s Day that I will always cherish. In 2018, a couple of my friends decided to go on a cruise for Father’s Day weekend and asked me if I was interested. I decided to go and asked Daniel if he would go with me. I was hesitant to ask him because it would be a small group of my friends and no other young people. But he said yes. I am so glad he did, we had so much fun. From the flight to Florida, hanging out on the cruise, and the flight home. First time on a cruise for both of us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

It was a special time and has taken on new meaning because it was the last trip I was able to take with him. We never know what life has in store for us, so I am glad that we spent that time together.

We find ways to do for others to honor him on his birthday since he’s been gone. We took cookies to his crew at the fire station and several other fire stations on his birthday the first year.

This year, we made a donation to Full Circle in his honor and invited family and friends to do the same.

As I approach Father’s Day this year, I am grateful for the privilege I had to be his father.

He came into the world on his own terms, and he went out on his terms. We had our good days, and we had some bad days. In spite of it all, my goal was to make sure that he knew he was loved and that his father was there for him. In that I know I succeeded.

One way I will always honor him on Father’s Day will be to talk about him and share a story with others. So often, people are afraid to talk about him or mention his name because they don’t want to upset us. Talking about him will not upset us, it helps us to keep his memory alive.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have fathered, raised, and loved my son, Daniel.